Yoga as a Healing Tool

This is the fifth article in the series, “The 12 Healing Tools“. These articles outline the things that I have found most useful in my journey to overcome childhood trauma and abuse, drug addiction, and debilitating depression.

I put off writing this article because it’s a pretty deep topic for me. There are so many reasons why yoga helped me, some of which I continue to learn about based on scientific research1, 2; and the ways that it helped me are vast and continue to unfold every year I practice. So I suppose I will start at the beginning, even though the beginning was pretty boring. 😉

One of my friends suggested we sign up for a series of Wellspan Health yoga classes around 2003 (don’t quote me on exact dates). I remember it being a struggle financially for both of us. We were single females in recovery and it seemed like there was barely enough money for the basics, much less something frivolous like a yoga class. But somehow, we found a way.

I don’t remember feeling like much was happening in the beginning – unlike during the free Buddhist meditation classes we were also attending around the same time. If anything, I felt self-conscious and really out of place! But for whatever reason, I kept trying to find affordable classes to attend.

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Past Lives & Cellular Memory

I’ve been sleeping on a mat in the barn the last couple of nights and, physically, I am feeling better than I have in months. It reminds me of dreams and visions of other lives I lived here on this planet. Does my body remember how ‘things used to be’ and crave those days of austerities: living simply, not eating much, etc.? And when I don’t live this way, I literally become sick from too much food, too much comfort, too much sitting, too much sleep. JUST.TOO.MUCH. It seems I may not be alone in this either. 1

. . .

Flashback to February 2010

One night during the yoga teacher training course in the Bahamas, I had a very vivid dream where I recalled a number of lives I previously lived on this planet. I was also shown the purpose of a few significant relationships I had up until that point, including the contracts we had signed before incarnating this time around. Contracts that were meant to cause growth through emotional pain. 2 It was incredibly eye-opening.

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An Apology from a Yogi

I think I experienced another dark night of the soul this week. Confronted by yet another [vegan yogic] religious zealot, did I want to continue down the path I’ve been on for the last 15 years? Quite honestly, I’m tired of dealing with the type, growing up in a cult and all. Should I extricate myself from yet another tribe of people that claimed to know what’s “truly” going on?

SOME HISTORY

Things have been very odd since I moved back here to PA at the end of 2016. My graphic design work dried up entirely (after working for the ashram in the Bahamas, an art group in York, and a weird stint with a Jewish group in Lancaster — just a few of the highlights of weirdness). And, I wasn’t able to find work here in PA as a yoga teacher for the first time since I was certified back in 2010.

I began to consider the possibility that teaching yoga wasn’t for me. Maybe it wasn’t my path, even though some astrologers told me teaching enlightenment was. Or some other possibility beyond my limited human point of view?

But, headstrong as I am, I decided in December of 2018, to experiment with my innate god-like creative potential and started practicing the techniques outlined in “The Miracle Morning”. And lo and behold: I got quite a number of gigs teaching yoga at various local places. It worked!

Well… as usual, be very careful — and specific — in what you wish for.

I quickly came to realize: yoga ain’t what it used to be. Maybe my spirit guides were protecting me again from the cold hard truth by not giving me work in the field. Could it be, that in about 50 years, Americans had twisted this beautiful esoteric practice into something physical, mundane, and competitive?

And for that, I will apologize right now. Because for the most part, it seems like these conflicts stem from a very primal part of the psyche that has not yet been healed. And for that… I am sorry.

No one wants to feel judged (as a student OR a teacher). No one wants to compete with their teacher or the person next to them on their mat. No one deserves to feel marginalized for their food and/or lifestyle choices. No one should be made to feel like yoga or meditation is inaccessible to them. And no one should be prevented from connecting to the expansiveness of their Spirit and their soul. And if anyone tells you that you can’t reach the essence of your Self because of what you eat or where you live, you should ask some serious questions about that person’s motives.

The fact is: at some point, your physical body will no longer be able to perform asanas, so all you will be left with is your breath and the inner workings of your own mind. (Sounds eerily like pranayama and meditation, doesn’t it?)

For me, yoga was a path I came upon after years of abuse, drug use, and a near-death experience. It helped to strengthen my mind, my aura, and my soul. It gave my spirit a glimpse into all that Is. It was everything BUT a physical practice for me.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this post, other than to say… yes, this spiritual path has been filled with unexpected twists and turns. So if you’re on one as well, expect the unexpected and never give up on your soul.

https://gretchensuarez.com/abuse-in-yoga/

https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/judgment-calls

https://www.kinoyoga.com/yoga-assignment-the-yoga-judgement-cure/

What is Breathwork Therapy?

Pranayama (control of prana or life force energy via the breath), is one of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, and as such has very ancient healing roots. However, the more modern version of therapeutic breathwork was born in the 1960s out of LSD research. When the government banned LSD, Stanislov Grof turned his attention to something that couldn’t be outlawed: breathing. Grof went on to trademark “Holotropic Breathwork“, a non-drug alternative to reaching altered states of consciousness.

Today, there are numerous styles of therapeutic breathwork. At the core, all breathwork therapy has benefits similar to other “psychedelic therapies” (such as Ayahuasca, magic mushrooms, and LSD) in that, as oxygen builds up in the blood, the breather experiences a mild sort of trip with the aim of promoting transcendental, ecstatic, religious or mystical peak experiences. Types of experiences usually fall into one or more of several categories:  sensory, biographic, perinatal, and yogic sleep states.

Continue reading What is Breathwork Therapy?