Karate Chop Yoga-Style

My eyes were closed. I didn’t see karate chops coming.

Since completing the 21 Day Yoga Challenge, I’ve been hooked on yoga.  It’s gentler on my knees than running.  And by now, I’m an expert, knowing all the poses by heart. Or so I thought…

The other day, we were seated when our instructor told us to cross our arms into “Eagle Pose.” I stacked elbows, hooked hands, and raised arms towards the sky.

Eagle Arm Pose

I cringed slightly, feeling the heat between my shoulder blades. I closed my eyes and concentrated on my breath, like a Zen Warrior Princess.

“Now, raise your elbows up and down. Karate chop the layers!” my instructor said.

Karate chop what?! Am I dreaming? I quickly opened my eyes to make sure I’d heard correctly.

At the front of the room, the instructor pulsed her elbows in the air, sort of like a karate chop. She kept a straight face, it wasn’t a joke.  I hesitated.

“Karate chop the layers that don’t serve you,” she continued, “As we go through life, we build up all these layers. Break through them, free yourself!”

Although out of my comfort zone, as soon as she described the layers, I knew I had them too. Guilt, worries and fears churn through me sometimes and I sit back and let them take over – as if I am not in control of them, but instead they control me.  Although unhealthy and pointless, I let this negativity hang in my closet and I wear it every so often, like a full-length winter parka on a hot summer day.

So, I smiled and joined in the motion. I closed my eyes and chopped even more vigorously.  As silly as it sounds, the exercise gave me permission to take off the winter parka; to chop through the layers; to let go.

Soon, we moved on to more typical poses, but the karate chops stuck with me and I knew I had to write about them for my narcolepsy blog.  Whether you have narcolepsy or not, everyone has extra layers.

Give it a try:
1. Close your eyes
2. Visualize the layers that no longer serve you
3. Karate chop them
4. Add in the Eagle Arm motions if you like!

Sound crazy? Try it anyway. You may be surprised by what you find hanging in your closet.


  1. Scott on July 20, 2011 at 9:29 am

    I appreciate the honesty in this post about something that we all struggle with to some extent – negativity and self doubt. Sometimes little reminders to fight these negative interferences are very helpful. Thank you!

  2. Gail on July 20, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    I tried it. It is not easy but then I tried just Karate chops in the air and it felt good to chop away at the negative thoughts and energy. It reminded me of a PTSS exercise to close your eyes and picture a flowing river in front of you. Start throwing all the bad memories and thoughts in the flowing river and say goodbye to them. I did it to soothing music. The therapist told me to tell her when I was finished. Finally she interrupted me saying,"Aren't you finished yet?"
    It is a very good exercise to try when bombarded by negative memories.
    Thank you for sharing!

  3. Unknown on July 26, 2011 at 10:43 am

    I admire your hard work and courageousness for sharing your story of narcolepsy through your blog. I think that you would agree with my feeling that, as part of the self-discovery process, it can be useful to share your personalized story of narcolepsy, or other mental health issues with others. If you are interested in sharing your story with me, I am assisting with a book that will be published around September 2011 on first person accounts of people with a range of mental health issues. This is another opportunity to continue to share your story and touch the lives of others. If you would like more information on this opportunity please let me know and I can answer any questions you have. As part of contributing to this project, we would also be able to direct readers to your blog for more information. My email is aer0930@gmail.com…thanks!

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