|Posted on October 9, 2014 at 6:35 PM|
Webster's Dictionary defines health as "physical and mental well-being." The 5,000-year-old science of yoga breaks this down even further when considering one's health: physical, energetic, cognitive, emotional and spritiual well-being. Everything we need is already inside of us to create and/or maintain the balance and harmony of all levels of our being. Through the practice of yoga and the tools it has to offer, we learn to tap into our true innate healing abilities.
There has been much press about how yoga can help you become limber and strong as well as reduce the stress in your life. But, you may ask, how do poses like 'downward facing dog" or "mountain" teach you to manager your anger? How can a "sun salutation" provide enough energy to get you through the day as effectively as your daily cup of java in the morning? Many of you have already been lucky enough to experience the feeling of euphoria cultivated during your yoga practice. Can that same good feeling also heal the dysfunctions and imbalances in your life and health? On the surface, yoga looks like a relaxing way to keep fit. But like an iceberg whose tip is above the water, the bulk of yoga's benefits lie below surface impressions. Yoga is a tried-and-true science that has been practiced and refined througout the millennia. And now, western science, is also confirming what the ancients had already discovered: a steady yoga practice can activate your innate healing abilities and produce more quality in your life.
The most important and simple tool that yoga has to offer us is also the most challenging. This tool is the cultivation of awareness. In our modern information age, the amount and pace of stimulus our human brains absorb is astounding. I once heard that the amount of information we absorb in one day, is as much as a person would absorb in an entire life-time one hundred years ago. Whether this statement is accurate or not, the point is well-taken. It would be no surprise to anyone if our entire society were diagnosed with ADD--our pets included!!! How can we know what we need when our minds are so externally absorbed? Even when we try to take care of ourselves by going to the gym, we find ourselves multi-tasking as we run on a treadmill while reading a magazine or lift weights while watching television. Our lives begin to feel like one long treadmill that is never-ending.
Yoga offers us the opportunity to slow down our thoughts and quiet the noise in our minds long enough to become aware of the messages from within. All the answers we need, and all the information we are seeking are within. We just can't hear it above the din of our minds! When I being teaching my classes, I ask my students to close their eyes and connect with their breath. By closing their eyes the external world begins to dissipate. By connecting with the breath--slowing it down and deepening it--we are flipping the "stress switch" to the off position. The tension in our muscles starts to loise its chronic hold. The mind starts to slow down and its constant chatter becomes more quiet. We then check-in to find out what is showing up for us: How is my body feeling at this moment? Where is my energy level in this moment? What is the state of my mind today? Do my emotions feel balanced today? Have I been nurturing my soul or have I been neglecting it? By asking these questions, we become more aware of ourselves. Loaded with this important information, we can then make conscious choices in our lives and influence our well-being in a direction that is more in tune with our needs and desires. Without this awareness we live our lives on automatic pilot, reacting, rather than responding to the myriad of circumstances to which our modern lifes are subjected.
Through this process of introspection and reflection, we develop an awareness that we can then use to access well-being. We can use a yoga practice to create strength, flexibility and endurance through postures. If we are seeking more energy in our life, we can learn breathing techniques that will slow down our hyped-up systems and rejuvenate us. If it is relief from the distracting stress of our "to do lists" that we seek, we can learn to focus our minds. When our emotions threaten to destabilize us, we can turn to meditation. And when our souls feel neglected, we can turn to deep, intense reflection and fill the well of our being.
This is the beginning and heart of cultivating health for our individual well-being. With the guidance of an experienced yoga teacher or yoga therapist, you can uncover the path to your innate healing abilities. It already resides within you. Take the journey and discover your inner landscape and its treasure of well-being.
Categories: Yoga Therapy