In her most recent post, sereneflavor touched upon a topic that is seldom discussed (and even when it is discussed, only discussed in passing, in a if-you-have-experienced-it-you'll-know-what-I'm-talking-about kind of way) in the Ashtanga blogosphere: Energetic openings. Here's sereneflavor's own recent experience of an energetic opening:
"...the teacher moved my legs in two opposing and impossible directions during Virabhadrasana 11 and I felt a scary crack in my sacrum (I think) then, lots and lots of space to stretch in opposing directions!"
I think it's really cool that sereneflavor has chosen to write about this aspect of the practice; of course, it's even more cool that she has experienced such an opening, and is now initiated into the ranks of the "opened". I offer her my heartfelt congratulations.
But having said this, I would also like to use her post as a launching pad for my own agenda :-) I may be wrong about this, but it appears to me that energetic openings are widely regarded as an esoteric aspect of the Ashtanga practice: An energetic opening is something that can only be experienced, and is not something that can be taught verbally. It also appears to be something that sets apart practitioners, so that practitioners who have experienced an energetic opening are almost seen to have been initiated into some kind of semi-mystic experience, and are, in this way, seen as more "advanced." Or, at the very least, as "opened".
As I said, all this is just my opinion: It could be that I simply haven't had the good fortune of meeting enough people with whom I can talk openly and coherently about energetic openings. But perhaps, as I have often done in the past with other topics, I can use this blog as a launching point to start a little conversation about energetic openings, and learn something concrete about this topic in the process.
Actually, sereneflavor's experience cues me in on a couple of things in my own practice. I think it is possible that, without being aware of it, I may be experiencing openings quite regularly in my daily practice. Here are a couple of examples:
(1) On most days, when I come up into Virabhadrasana I in Surya B, I feel a pop/crack (it's something between a pop and a crack; maybe I should call it a "prack" :-)) somewhere in my sacrum as I fully extend my spine and reach my arms up to the sky. It's not uncomfortable at all; in fact, it's quite pleasant, and I have come to anticipate this prack: I feel that it opens up my lower back in a good way.
(2) Almost every single time I lower into Kapotasana, I feel a prack in my sacrum when I reach a certain point in the backbend. It's not quite as pleasant as the one in Vira I. It's rather uncomfortable, but not painful. And once I get pracked, it becomes possible for me to go deeper into Kapo. It's almost as if my spine is changing gears, and the prack is the sound of the gears changing, allowing the spine to switch from not-so-deep-backbend mode into deep-backbend mode. My experience so far tells me that this prack is a good thing that is therapeutic for my spine (although I sometimes wonder if a chiropractor would disagree with me). Well, maybe my spine needs some transmission fluid to make the gear-changing more smooth... Ha! Think about this: No Transmission Fluid, No Prana!
Anyway, here's what I'm wondering: Are my experiences in (1) and (2) examples of energetic openings? Or are they merely physiological phenomena that can be explained in purely anatomical/physiological terms? More generally, are energetic openings purely energetic or pranic in nature? Or can they also be explained in anatomical/physiological terms? Anything you have to say about this (really, anything) will be greatly appreciated.