My dear, youngest sister, perhaps one of the coolest and most goofball people in the world has asked me to write a short article to present to her college class about therapy through Yoga. Here it is. (I’m going to ask her to send me a pic of herself in a yoga pose…and if you’re reading this to the class Madeline, I cordially invite you to lead them in chanting Om three times with your hands together at your heart. )
Let me first tell you that the applications of Yoga for therapy are limitless really. Look at any kind of yoga practice; poses, breathing, or meditation. What is really happening there? You are practicing being consciously aware of yourself and choosing how to be in that environment. The general therapeutic affect of any of these practices is that you become skilled at perceiving yourself presently, perhaps curious to discover if there is still yet some broader capacity for that perception, and empowered by realizing that you can choose how to be in yourself with any situation, at any moment, and in a way that is genuinely healing to your whole body-mind system more and more often. This healing increases your senses and energy which creates a feedback loop increasing your ability to perceive yourself and the inter connectivity of life. You can choose to be calm. You can choose to energize yourself. You can choose to love yourself and others unconditionally. You may not feel that immediately but you can choose to move in the right direction. The more aware you become of the relationship between these aspects; your breath, mind, and body(in movements or repose) the more you realize how infinite you are.
Yoga is a healing modality that creates balance and transformation. Sometimes people may become obsessive about how to heal from a certain ailment or malady. They focus so hard upon what ails them and their energy becomes consumed in a downward spiral. By Yoga practice you expand your awareness to explore your boundaries. What is the mobility of my body? What is the capacity of this breath in this position? In? Out? How long before the tendencies of my mind interrupt my silence? This expansion of awareness is akin to taking stock on all your resources or being the manager of all your systems and behaviors. Healing which really lasts comes from the intelligence provided by observing yourself and choosing those things which you intuitively feel are bringing you towards well-being. As all things are connected, a positive change in one aspect of your life or relationships can lead to healing in another.
Yoga teaches you the value of retreat, of rest, of times of reflection or integrating your recent experiences. This is the principle in the practice of the corpse pose everyone loves at the end of physical yoga practices. When you get into Yoga you’ll find your skill at relaxing increases. Relaxation is a skill, but it’s a skill of not doing anything. How do you keep entertained like that? Observe yourself. Can you feel your heart beat? Can you feel it in your veins? Can you feel it in your little toes? How about your nervous system? Maybe normally you don’t think of “feeling” your nervous system but how do you feel energetically; serene, agitated, sensitive, dull, blissful? As you observe these things and your own breathing can you feel subtle shifts in your mind? What was that, a thought, or something more subtle? Going into these deep states of relaxation is tapping into the natural healing and restorative intelligences of your mind-body systems. They are pro at this. They just need your attention and they get even better at what they were made for…to help you feel love, to give and receive love.
For me yoga has helped me overcome emotional pains, give up destructive behaviors, increased my self worth, healed minor injuries, given my life purpose, and made me very enthusiastic about exploring the possibilities with a positive attitude for myself and the world. I can do it so well I can even gently subdue my rational mind and believe “unbelievable” things. Not because I really want to think that they are real, but because I want to see what happens to me when I do. And maybe… because somethings don’t become true, until you believe in them.
George Anthony IV