Citation: memoria. "Formula for Therapeutic Heal: An Experience with LSD & Yoga (exp66904)". Erowid.org. Feb 17, 2011. erowid.org/exp/66904
LSD + Yoga = Formula for Therapeutic Healing
I have been working with psychoactive substances for four years, having come to psychedelic work after having tried literally dozens of therapies (traditional and alternative) over a lifetime, seeking healing of very early childhood traumatic experiences. The substances used have included MDMA, LSD, and Psilocybin, separately, and in various combinations. My experience of my life as an adult is generally a complete disconnect from my body and any body feelings, which actually feels normal for me.
The transition time -- from commencement of my journey work (when I am most out of body) to being taken into my body by substance -- has always been difficult for me (anxiety and fear). During a previous journey (3 tabs LSD and one tab of MDMA), I thought that I might reduce some of the transition anxiety by starting off doing something that gets me into my body fairly effectively – Yoga. I began a 45-minute practice immediately upon dosing. This method seemed to substantially eliminate my transition anxiety, and also yielded some dramatic and exciting body releases in a pose that was usually troublesome for me (Down Dog). But the MDMA felt overly medicative, and because I found myself dissociating through most of the journey, I was not able to explore the full potential of the Yoga work during that journey. I was eager to try this experiment again with just the LSD, and had the opportunity two weeks later.
This journey I reduced the dosage to 2.5 tabs of LSD. I began on an extremely empty stomach at 8 pm. As before, I began to practice my Yoga immediately upon dosing. I went through my practice for 30 minutes. This time there was no noticeable effect. My mind is frequently subjected to exaggerated Obsessive Compulsive loops during journey work, which is expressed by the need to compulsively repeat a previously successful experience, and I panic when it does not follow the route my mind thinks the journey should take. I took a break, listened to some music, and then came back to the Yoga mat. I calmed myself by telling myself that I had lots of time, all night, and then simply started the Yoga workout again from the beginning. The time was 9 pm -- one hour in.
This time, the effects were immediately and profoundly different. I found it very hard to transition from one pose to another, since each pose I entered had so much going on in it. Each pose was an intimate exploration. Each pose was its own virtual universe -- mesmerizing. I would find my body moving of its own accord to adjust in the pose, and most of the adjustments felt completely surprising to me – ways my body had never set into before. Yet, in many of them, as my body would self-adjust, I could suddenly recall a yoga teacher recommending to me or to other students that exact adjustment, but never experiencing it as relevant to myself or my body. And with each automatic and surprising adjustment, I would exclaim “Oh! That’s what he meant!” And it would feel totally good, and right, and pleasurable. I did not want to leave each pose for the next because of how good each pose felt.
In the style I’m now studying (the Anasura style), our teacher continually brings us back to Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog), which is where we start and where we end each sequence. And following this pattern, I kept coming back to Down Dog. And I kept staying in Down Dog longer and longer. The pull to that pose just seemed to be more and more compelling. Finally, I stopped moving into other poses altogether, and just stayed in Down Dog. Strange things started happening to my shoulders – they were reconfiguring in the pose, self-adjusting in a way that made them stronger, allowing me to stay in the pose longer. My legs were vibrating. It became harder and harder to keep the pose, but something told me to keep working in it. My arms and shoulders ached, more and more. I continued to stay. My breathing began quickening. And then, the screams came – screams of terror that had been bound up in my shoulders since infancy. I dropped out of the pose to scream into a pillow (to muffle the sound from neighbors, and to protect my throat), and released, and released.
When I was done, I walked around for a few minutes, feeling kind of dazed, but thrilled -- excited at the depth and power of the release. Then I went back to Down Dog, and did it all over again. Again, the movement deeper into the pose, just hanging out, until the breath started quickening, and then a huge emotional release. I repeated this sequence another two or three times, each time dropping down into a pillow to release more and more of the terror that had been held into very tight musculature in my shoulders.
In an almost experimental mode, I moved on to Uttanasana (forward bend), to try to work very tight hamstrings, which were vibrating in Down Dog, but not releasing. The effects in forward bend were also dramatic and profound. The tight hamstrings were frozen because they holding me up – they were doing the job of my lower-back-side-muscles, which were not available because they, in turn, were trying to do the job of the lower-side-abdominals. These lower-side-abdominals were not available for my structural use because they were no longer doing the job of a muscle, but rather they were a holding tank -- holding in deep, deep sobs. And when the forward bend began to melt the hamstrings, all of this unwound – the hamstrings released, the back side muscles let go, then the front side muscles opened up, and deep sobbing began releasing from the sides of my gut. I could feel each part of this layered patchwork of musculature band-aid unwind and release with the sobbing. The sobbing was so deep, and so profound, that I threw up (nothing to throw up, of course, but a lot of emotional release).
Next were some very gentle and unexciting twists (simply laying on my back with the knees bent, legs to one side). These “unexciting” twists turned into glory. I felt my whole spine simply relax and unwind, releases all up and down, and in my hips, and I started laughing. There was laughter bound up in my hips and lower spine, and the twist, allowed this, too, to release. I was laughing, joyously, for between 10 and 15 minutes.
All of this took place during the second hour.
This was when I had the most significant insight of the journey, and that was this:
------ Every pose was a healing ------
When even the simple twist yielded a release, I then understood that every single pose I could do would lead me to some place in my body where I had stuck energy, or unreleased emotions, or locked-in trauma. If I was in a pose, and I wasn’t feeling joy in the pose, that was the sign that I had something stuck there. All I had to do was to stay in the pose, keep breathing, and automatically, I would work my way down to whatever might be stuck, and, using my breath, it would work its way out of my system through some sort of vocal release.
And so I went back to Down Dog. My mind told me I’d already done the work. That there was nothing there. It felt good being in the pose, but nothing else was going to come up. That I should try something else. I started to quicken my breathing. My mind told me that it wasn’t working. Then my mind confirmed that it wasn’t working. My breathing started to quicken even more. And my mind kept confirming that it wasn’t working, right up until the split moment that most powerful screams of terror came out of the deepest part of my center. And they continued into the pillow for another full minute. I had never released that deeply. I was shaken, and a little stunned. And five minutes later, I was back in Down Dog. And there was my mind telling me all over again that nothing was going to happen. And I had an even bigger release.
My mind kept playing the same game. And I kept going back. And I kept having these huge releases. Finally, after bruising my nose trying to drop into the pillow when the screams started, I just piled up some pillows right under my nose so I could stay in the pose and do my screaming without breaking the pose (and without disturbing my neighbors).
I would take breaks during this process. There was huge energy being expended, but I had been working on my stamina for several months to be able to do this work, and now it was paying off. It did not matter if I felt too tired to do another Down Dog. It did not matter if I “felt” like there was anything there to release. It did not matter if I felt like doing anything at all. It was all rather automatic (but not at all in any kind of disconnected way – rather, it was all VERY connected). All I had to do was move into the pose, keep breathing, completely ignore what my mind was telling me and stay in the pose, and the release would come. Finally, at about hour four it felt like I had really done all the releasing I was going to do in Down Dog for the evening.
Hour five: Now I finally felt I could move into Pigeon pose (one knee cocked underneath with other leg extended back). Again the same type of release – the mind denying, avoiding, dismissing -- right up until the very second of release of more fear out of the hips.
Switch sides. This time, on the second side of Pigeon, the mind was even more insistent on avoiding any release. As I negotiated with my mind, I told my mind that since I was not feeling joy in the pose, I was damn well going to stay there until I had my release. And so my mind said, ok let’s feel the joy – and I felt the hip release into a place of pleasure. But I also felt something really weird happen. It felt like a snake traveling up from my hips through my back into my shoulders – literally. As my hips relaxed and released without any type of expression coming out though my breath, this serpentine thing that felt bizarrely but realistically like a snake wound its way up my back and deposited itself into my shoulders, which promptly tightened and started feeling locked and almost painful. WTF? Back to Down Dog. And then, an incredibly huge release of screaming (pain) out of my shoulders.
This demonstrated to me that a locked-in emotion in one part of the body could be moved out of one part of the body, but it would not be released unless it was given a vocalized expression of that emotion. Instead, it would simply migrate to another part of the body, there to become part of the held-in-tension and eventual solidification of the musculature, unless and until released.
By 2:00 am, I felt I had done some of the most powerful and sustained emotional release work of my life. I was not tired, nor was I wiped out, but I felt deeply grounded, and I felt good. My body felt different. I was walking differently. Because the hamstrings were now no longer being used to keep the sides locked in (which kept them rigid and locked), they were released and available for walking, which allowed my legs to have a spring that allowed my knees to bend with a flexibility I had never felt before. All this allowed my hips to move in ways that I also had never experienced before.
I ended my journey at 2:30 am by eating a light meal. I was feeling like I had done many journeys’ worth of work in this single evening, and, even though a typical journey for me lasts from 8-10 hours, I called it a night at 5.5 hours.
Most exciting for me was possibility that I had found a “formula.” A way to do the work that did not require anything of my mind to “get it right,” or to “try” to achieve some result that might not happen. It was as simple as a mathematical formula:
LSD + Yoga Pose + Breath + Time = Release. (Pillow optional.)
Years of release in a single night.
This was the most powerful work I’ve done. I hope this report helps others who are use this kind of work to find the deeply unconscious places that remain hidden to ordinary methods of healing.
I have studied Iyengar Yoga for several years. There are many types of yoga and many types of teachers. Some types are less concerned with precision and placement in the poses than others. I, for myself, found that having Iyengar Yoga’s grounding in precision, placement, and sequencing was very important for my work that evening. I did find during the journey that there was a correct way to do a pose, and, while my body would often find its way to that correct pose entirely on its own, much of my grounding in the Iyengar work helped me move far more quickly towards the pose I needed to be in, and with confidence that I would not hurt myself in the process. I do not have the experience to recommend any style over another since I have only worked in the two styles mentioned herein. I offer only that a Yoga school that is more meticulous about correct positioning in poses might be an advantage in this type of work.
My breathing during this work was simply normal breathing. The quickening of the breath that immediately preceded the releases was mostly involuntarily, although sometimes I had the perception that I had initiated it voluntarily. That perception may have been the mind trying to take credit for anything it could grab onto as a way of minimizing (to itself) its utter lack of control over the work, but that, too, did not seem to matter. I surmise that people deeply experienced in using breathwork, such as pranayama, might find an even more profound doorway into these deep places, but I do not have experience or training to offer that report.
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