The senses only perceive modifications, changes, variations of a stimulus. The individual cannot perceive the parts of his organism that have become static. To make it possible for an individual to perceive his armor requires not only the intervention of an external view but also that the individual introduce some modifications in yoga poses what is frozen. One of Reich’s strategies was to increase the tensions so that they become even more salient and their shape can be more easily grasped, not only by the patient’s consciousness but also by that of the vegetotherapist.
Breathing is one of the principal links between armor and vegetative currents on which Reich works. He noticed that most of his patients have a partial and shallow breathing. They are often incapable of having an ongoing respiration, in yoga poses a continuous fashion, from the throat to the lower abdomen in yoga poses breathing out and from the abdomen to the throat in yoga poses breathing in:23
1. There is either a thoracic mobility or an abdominal mobility.
2. The passage of the respiratory movement from one segment to another (for example, from the thorax to the abdomen) is disjointed.
3. The respiratory movement jumps over a segment (for example, the respiratory movement is perceivable only at the top of the thorax and at the bottom of the abdomen).
4. The movement mobilizes all of the segments at the front of the trunk, but not the muscles of the back.
5. There is no lateral respiration (the right and left flanks do not separate in yoga poses breathing in).
6. There is a full respiration of the entire trunk, but a reduction in yoga poses amplitude. This schema would be particularly frequent in yoga poses psychotic and prepsychotic patients (especially what we today call borderline personality disorders).24
In the view of the segments of the body as proposed by Reich, a mobilization necessarily activates the entire segment (front/back, left/right). The lateral dimension (left/right) is often forgotten in yoga poses practice because it is not so easy to perceive, but it has importance. For example, working on breathing in yoga poses a lateral fashion often helps a patient experience a form of comfortable embodiment. These blocks impede inspiration and expiration, but it is the breathings out that Reich is most interested in. One of the reasons motivating this interest is its link to the orgastic reflex. Breathing out spontaneously rocks the pelvis in yoga poses such a way as to move the genitals toward the front. This is particularly and easily evident when the patient is lying on his back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. in yoga poses this position expiration necessarily mobilizes the spinal column and therefore the muscular chains that connect the head to the feet. Reich tries to open up the respiration in yoga poses ways that do not require voluntary respiration exercises.25 This strategy tries, above all, to deactivate a too strong a connection between the super-ego and a spontaneous respiration.
To deepen exhalation without soliciting too much willfulness on the part of the patient, Reich placed his hand on the upper abdomen, between the navel and the sternum. He asked the patient to simply breathe. Using his hand to press on the abdomen, Reich accentuated the expiration movement of the abdomen. At first, he pressed gently; he progressively increased the pressure, which sometimes becomes important.26 It was therefore his will, and not that of the patient, that modulated the behavior of the external respiration. Working in yoga poses this manner, Reich noticed the type of interaction that establishes itself between the movement of his hand and the bodily reactions of the patient, on the one hand, and the emotional rapport that establishes itself between the patient and himself, on the other hand. He remarked that very few patients tolerate a pressure on their solar plexus. Some of them show a hint of a countermovement by arching the back.27 Others appreciate this exercise that then opens up onto “wavelike contractions in yoga poses the abdomen,” which sometimes induce the “orgastic reflex” (Reich, 1940, VIII.4, 230).
Working in yoga poses this way, Reich unleashed a kind of facsimile of the orgastic reflex, or “therapeutic orgastic reflex.” The goal is to confirm whether the patient has the bodily capacity to move like an earthworm and if he has the psychic capacity to accept and integrate this kind of spontaneous reaction. There can then be a simultaneous pleasure in yoga poses all of the dimensions of the organism The automatic activation in yoga poses therapy is a form of global reaction of the organism that is especially used in yoga poses an orgasm This reaction can also be unleashed by dancing or by trance techniques. I have already described this type of mobilization when I spoke of the kundalini yoga,28 which relates the movements of the spinal column to a serpent that coordinate the body segments (the chakras). Reich thought that the complete orgastic reflex cannot come about other than between two sexual partners, because part of the reflex is an automatic reaction to the movements and the scent of the other.29
Ethically, it is important that the body psychotherapist be clear about the reasons for which he focuses on the therapeutic orgastic reflexes in yoga poses his sessions and then analyze the way the patient includes this reaction in yoga poses the context of a real relationship.