Published April 2013 Yoga Magazine
“And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields” Kahil Kibran
Healing Through Yoga
Be it a mindful or physical approach, yoga is highly beneficial for any persons in convalescence, no matter how big or small a problem appears. Yoga offers an abundance of tools for challenging situations, with profound healing effects from restorative and recuperative, to uplifting qualities for optimum health and living. Yoga can be modified to support all lifestyles, surroundings and seasons, making recovery accessible for almost everyone.
With stress a common ailment of modern living, let’s start here: When under too much pressure, the mental field shuts down preceding the ‘will’ to continue. Hence the expressions under stress, a strain putting our innate wisdom out of reach. In this stage we lose sight of what is actually happening in a body and personality of sensations, emotions and feelings. Symptoms already onset by the immune system under attack due to stress, perpetuate physical, emotional and psychological problems. Often, the root cause of stress begins with surface personality and identifying with external layers we shape; push ourselves into, to fit in with society. This constant absorption of external influence, mask our core truths. Yoga however, brings us back.
Conscious or not, a process of emotional and mental responsive data accumulates to that which we speak, eat, smell, taste, touch, feel and think. Our senses, governed by the nervous system and chemical make-up designed within the formations of the endocrine system, define our personal characteristics. It is both these functions that ‘manage’ sensory overloads. That in mind you can understand how our personalities and different roles of characteristics create false impression of which our true nature is seemingly contained in. Not to mention the intricate linear matrix born out of conditionings, patterned from all lifetimes on a soul level. When stress ‘put to one side,’ the inevitable soon manifests as pain in the physical body, in one form or another. In this time the physical body may demand precedence in the initial stages of healing through yoga before we can go beyond. The breakthrough is found within change, recognising the pain body is the trigger of what needs releasing. This change requires courage and effort, soon to reap through the very act of yoga itself.
A gentle approach in Yoga should not be dismissed because of its simple appearance, as it brings a profound effect on body and mind. Its preventative and curative qualities put pressures far from reach because it changes how we react to the world inside, instead of trying to change the world outside.
How healing through Yoga works?
Each posture applies direct pressure on the nerves and glands, therefore tunes and tones the nerves and balances hormones. This in turn has a cleansing effect since the lymphatic system is also simulated, increasing functionality of the organs. Yoga releases and removes blockages, boosting a free flow of energy to body and mind. Having a direct influence on the nervous system not only becomes highly effective for the treatment of stress, tension and nervousness, in addition, provides nurture and repair to damaged tissue and joints. A gentle and harmonious approach combined with subtle exercise, avoids the risk of further damage to connective tissue, whilst actively stimulating life-giving blood flow, through breathing into areas of neglect and injury.
The Bihar school of Yoga found that muscles relax by directing attention along with integrating breath to a specific area, send relaxed impulses back to the brain thus relaxing the mind. Synchronizing movements with the awareness of breath activates the attentive mind, allowing us to not otherwise ponder on tensions and stress. Here, neutrality arises. There is a subtle shift of brain waves that deepen our capacity to relax back to our natural state; a crucial stage for healing to take place. One must be fully absorbed in the practice and be relaxed in order to reach cellular level, freeing physical knots and tensions in body and mind. Once beyond the physicality of yoga, a consistent practice allows spontaneity to arise, thus practise integrates through daily life. A more peaceful state of ‘being’ is experienced.
When you re-establish the self, moving away from the ‘I’ the individual personality, you start living inner peacefully, nurturing self again. This reflects externally, no longer redundant from healing resources that lay within, attracting healthier living.
Shifting mood through asana:
The appearance of moods can lead us to believe we are not in the mood to do yoga. It is important to consider our moods/emotions are not our ultimate truth, and such moods can be shifted. Have you noticed the luminosity at the end of a yoga practice where you feel completely removed from a heavy feeling or thought, prior to the practice? This is the alchemical effects of yoga. Though seemingly easier to stay bored or stuck in a mood, it is far from satisfying, especially for Soul. Letting initial impulse to do… pass… creates bigger challenge for mind to want to do, best get out of mind and in body to change your mind, this activates the force eded to stimulate the energetic system, thus shifting mood. Don’t listen to the mind …just do the doing! A simple act of not reacting to the minds thoughts can change perspective and lift the mind.
Useful advice in practicing Yoga:
The intention of sequenced postures is each one prepares the body and mind to support the next. As time goes on each practice lends itself to the other. All parallel, complement and enhance the other. When practicing yoga try not to worry about creating a perfect picture with your posture; by forcing into a ‘perfect’ shape. This disconnects your flow. You can’t breath properly, your muscles cannot breath properly and you create further tension, (your nerves shrink back into state of feeling under pressure). Rather merge mind with body and breath, into a more expansive field. When soul’s colours morph into life, the real picture reveals; the luminous self.
During practice you may experience opposing forces of constant push and pull, allow gravity to pronounce its very nature and work with it rather than against, try not to create a fight. Watch how your body responds in awe, observing your mental and emotional capacity in relation to current life circumstance and attitudes. Embrace the unknown. Let your physical body grow and expand in its own time – a jovial approach will certainly give a richer and freer experience. Allow mind observe for acceptance to arise thus a meditative practice transpires, watching and not reacting to what is happening. Watching and accepting all that arises, knowing this too changes.
Your yoga practice is an ongoing process, never give up. Despite all life’s glories and woes, persevere, the rewards are abundant and never ever give up.
Teaching for over 10 years, Niamh experiences Yoga as a Gift to Self since she has observed growth and change available to ALL, no matter how big or small a problem appears.
Specialisms -Hridaya Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa flow, Stress and Pain Management , Yoga for Healing (including fears, tendencies and emotions), Hridaya Meditation, Pranayama / Breathwork ,Yoga Nidra (deep relaxation).