Yoga Exercise


In analyzing the relationship between pulsation and respiration, we again find the four moments of respiration already described in yoga poses the sections on the methods from the Far East and gymnastics.34 Like the Hindus and the Chinese, and like Freud for a brief moment,35 Reich conceptualizes four phases of mobilization that are also four phases of the circulation of energy. This activation rises up the back, passes through the cranium, and returns down over the ventral surface toward the genitals.36 This current is associated to the movements of the fluids and respiration.37 There would be a connection between the flux (ascending energy, mobilization, inspiration) and reflux (descending energy, an expression leading to relaxation, and exhalation).38

The orgasm coordinates intra-organism and inter-organism regulations in yoga poses an intimate way (see figure 18.2). Orgasm becomes a particularly striking example of the form of reaction that mobilizes all these mechanisms. It creates a profound dynamic of the organism that allows for a deep cleaning of the tissues and fluids, a discharge of emotional tension, and a form of contact with the other that is necessary for someone to be able to let go. Only when two individuals have an orgasm together does such a powerful discharge become possible.39 in yoga poses other words, the orgasm is not just a pleasurable reflex unleashed by a few nerve centers. It is a profound need that allows an organism to renew itself. in yoga poses this sense, for Reich, “sexual stasis represents a fundamental disturbance of biological pulsation” (Reich, 1948c, Vl, 153f). Having arrived at this stage of his thinking, he has a model in yoga poses hand that answers all the questions he had asked himself with regard to the orgasm when he was still a student. This model made it possible for the subsequent generations to ask other questions that necessitated

Reich asked his patients to move like a jellyfish but had not, it seems, made of this proposition a structured exercise. It was, for him, more of an astute teaching tool. Judyth O. Weaver told me that most orgonomists in yoga poses the United States do not know this exercise.40 It would seem that it was Ola Rakes who started to develop this exercise in yoga poses Oslo after visiting Reich at his property in yoga poses Maine. Gerda Boyesen and her students then created an entire series of exercises based on this proposition (Heller, 2007).


The jellyfish exercises41 show how choreographer Rudolf Laban, through the intermediary of Elsa Lindenberg, influenced Reich’s bodywork. Laban distinguished two basic movements of the body: “It has been found that bodily attitudes during movement are determined by main action forms. One of these forms goes from the periphery outwards into space, while the other comes from the periphery of the kinesphere inwards towards the center” (Laban, 1950, IV 83). The analysis of this basic movement by Laban is certainly more refined that that of Reich’s. He differentiates a global pulsatory movement from a more dynamic differentiated pulsation of body parts: a hand may contract while the other opens up. Laban sometimes uses global pulsatory movements, but he does not understand these two general movements as being healthier than a dynamic play of tensions between parts of the body. A tensing of one part can serve as a basis to accentuate the opening of another part of the body as when a compressed spring suddenly lets go. He distinguishes between the forms of harmonious dances that impose a global expansion or a contraction on the body and the other forms of dance that exploit a multitude of contractions and expansions in yoga poses different parts. For Laban, the adoption of either of these is mostly an option between styles and cultures.42 He refers to every blend of parts of the body in yoga poses extension and in yoga poses contraction as “arabesque” and global movements as “attitudes”:

Attitudes show a relationship to all dimensions: high, deep, right, left, forward and backwards. It is as if all the space were raised into one comprehensive dimension giving a similar aesthetic impression to that of an orchid whose intertwining curves create a perfect unity. Attitudes are final poses which cannot well be further developed. (Laban, 1950, IV, 86)

Every combination of the parts of the body in yoga poses extension and in yoga poses contraction creates a kind of symbolization that would always be, according to Laban, that which creates the necessity to develop the art of movement, like dance:

Experience of the symbolic content and its significance must be left to the immediate comprehension of the person who watches the movement. Any verbal interpretation of this inner feeling will always be something like a translation of poetry into prose and will remain all the while unsatisfying. (Laban, 1950, IV, 86)

To explore the impact of orgone on the organism, Reich worked with global body movements that can help the patient become aware of the deeper dynamics of his being. He focused on the activation of a harmonious and global pulsation. He did not take the time to observe the different types of pulsations that can be generated by the different organismic dimensions. An organ does not necessarily pulsate like a tissue, a fluid, a muscle, and so on. Reich does not explore the dynamics that emerge from the dynamic resonance between Laban’s “arabesques.” Elsa Lindenberg, who was probably an expert in yoga poses contrasting arabesques, did not want to wait. I assume that her need to mix dance techniques, such as Laban’s arabesques, and Vegetotherapy was one of the reasons that encouraged her to create, at the end of her life, a school of dance therapy.

Introduction to the Jellyfish Exercises. Here is a simple exercise that permits the introduction of the basic principles of Reich’s jellyfish exercises.

Vignette on orgone sensation. You relax, eyes closed, sitting on your ischia bones, back straight. You are aware of how you breathe. You then rub the palms of your hands together rapidly from top to bottom for a few minutes. You slowly separate your hands apart not more than an inch, keeping them parallel, one palm facing the other.

At that moment, most everyone with whom I conduct this exercise senses a dense field between their hands. They have the impression that this field has a rhythmic pulse that subtly pushes the hands apart and draws them to each other. It is recommended to verify that the respiration in yoga poses not inhibited while the patient is concentrating on the field between their hands.

The foregoing is a typical Reichian exercise. I practiced it with several body therapists, including Eva Reich in yoga poses Geneva. A Reichian explains that this field that you feel between your hands is orgone energy and that the pulse is one of the properties of this energy. The impression that something pulsates between the hands is often reported. Typically, when I guide others in yoga poses this exercise, individuals also feel warmth and tinglingin their hands. These vegetative sensations sometimes sweeps over the body. An individual may feel a circulation in yoga poses the body that gradually becomes an impression of global pulsation. These types of sensation are often associated to the circulation of the chi, of the orgone, or of “vital energy.” Whatever these mechanisms might be called, this experience is frequently observed and experienced as beneficial by individuals who are not afraid of pleasurable sensations that arise in yoga poses the body. For example Hiroshi Nozaki taught the same exercise in yoga poses his courses of Chinese massage, to make us feel the circulation of the chi.

Brief Description of the Main Jellyfish Exercise. This exercise is conducted while lying on one’s back. It consists in yoga poses opening, as much as possible (hands and feet as far away from each other as possible), then closing oneself up as much as possible (knees and elbows as close as possible to the center of the thorax). in yoga poses these exercises, the patient explores different ways of going from one extreme to the other, at different speeds, in yoga poses a more or less coordinated fashion with respiration. It is easy to demonstrate that in yoga poses these postures, it is impossible to be curled up and fully expanded at the same time.

Reich’s idea, at the time, was that the center of the orgastic reflex organized itself around the segment of the diaphragm. Genitals, mouth, and arms get close together in yoga poses exhaling; they distance themselves somewhat with inhaling. This movement in yoga poses pulsation is what organizes and coordinates the movements of the organism The body passes alternatively from a C position to an X position.

When a jellyfish moves, both ends of the body get close to and far from one another, in yoga poses a rhythmic movement, which can become clonic. Taking this movement as a metaphor, we arrive at the following hypothesis:

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