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.
Continue reading Yoga as a Healing Tool
Feeling stressed? Stuck at home and don’t know what to do? Come into the moment with this Gentle Yoga practice.
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.
Continue reading Past Lives & Cellular Memory
I’ve noticed since I moved back to Pennsylvania that I’m experiencing a TON of pain in my hips and low back. I’ve been sitting more and walking less because it rained pretty much all summer (and now it’s freezing). And as my teaching gigs have decreased, I haven’t been doing as much yoga either. I’m sure there are also some trauma and emotional issues involved, but I’ll save that for another post.
Anyway… Since I generally turn to my yoga practices for healing, I started experimenting with more psoas stretches to see if they might alleviate some of the pain in my hips and low back. (The psoas attaches to the torso to the legs starting in the lumbar spine, through the hips and inner thighs which led me to believe I might be experiencing tension in my psoas.) I was also surprised to learn that a tensed psoas influences the operation of the vagus nerve, which means when your psoas stays tensed, you stay in the fight or flight system! Well I’m happy to report, that in a short amount of time, these practices really seem to be helping. I usually do them first thing in the morning; however, if I’ve been sitting a lot and I notice that painful sensation coming back, I’ll take a few minutes to stretch again – up to three times a day. So here are the asanas that have been working best for me. I make sure to practice full yogic breathing as I hold the postures for about 1 minute on each side.
Continue reading Low Back Pain and the Psoas
This is the third 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.
Once I got clean back in the mid-90s, I really didn’t know who I was or what I was going to do with my life. I grew up with an overbearing mother (to put it mildly), I had no self-esteem, spent years trying to lose myself in men and drugs, etc. etc. etc. It was a rough road for quite a number of years.
The guy that I was with at the time – we’ll call him Marty – who, incidentally met me during my active addiction and stayed with me during rehab and after, convinced me to sign up for Americorps. Honestly, I just wanted the pay out at the end to help pay off my student loans, so I agreed. During this time, Marty also gave me some other volunteer work making art with kids in some local low income housing projects. I spent a full year in Americorps, doing art with kids, making murals, sweeping streets, fixing windows, and basically just giving back to the community. Eventually Marty and I parted ways, but I have to give him credit for this cuz selfless service really changed my life and probably helped keep me clean too.
Continue reading Service to Others
I’ve been struggling with a pain in my neck and right shoulder for MONTHS now. I had Reiki done on it – that did nothing. So I went to the doctor about it. Twice. After the second visit, I was prescribed muscle relaxers. Needless to say, they didn’t work either and made me feel looped out of my mind as well. So, I did some research on my own and deduced that the tension in my neck and shoulder must be from using my cell phone too much! UGH!!! The dreaded TEXT NECK! And as it turns out, a lot of the students I teach at yoga seem to be experiencing similar aches and pains which led to a whole class focused almost entirely on the upper body.
Anyway… Here is a set of stretches I found online that has FINALLY given me some relief (along with a daily application of BioFreeze): https://www.wikihow.com/Relieve-Text-Neck-Pain-by-Stretching
Since most of us are usually quite busy – maybe even frenetic – over the holiday season, I decided to offer a special yin/restorative yoga class at Garth each Monday in January. This four-week session was a welcome change of pace for those that attended the class. Familiar asanas took on a whole new effect as we held the postures for at least 3 minutes at a time, focusing on moving mindfully and the breath. Students left feeling more nourished and centered, and deeply relaxed at the end of every class. Here is a good beginner yin sequence if you’d like to try this style of yoga at home.
I feel like I’ve been studying people and the world around me for a very long time. This tendency helped keep me safe while I was growing up in an incredibly volatile home environment and it made me a more perceptive artist as I tuned into all of the details around me (sometimes to an overwhelming degree, as most empaths can attest). I’ve also witnessed how we can create our own mental states of stress or how we can choose to induce a sense of well being. It’s all pretty fascinating.
So in my ongoing quest to ‘figure things out’, I recently started volunteering at a local hospice. My decision to volunteer was sparked, in part, by how important hospice was when my own grandmother was dying from cancer and another part was based on my own near-death experience.
Continue reading Exercise & Dementia
This is the second 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.
By the mid-90s my drug days were coming to an end. I couldn’t handle the lifestyle. I was tired of chasing the white dragon every day. Tired of seeing my friends die. Tired of feeling like a total waste and hating myself for it. Just TIRED. Life was truly unmanageable as every waking hour was consumed by this substance. I wanted to finally be free from heroin and try to act and feel “normal”, though that was part of the reason why I started to use drugs in the first place – I always felt (and was told) I was ‘different’ and didn’t understand why.
Anyway… after several failed attempts at detox centers and 30-day rehabs, I was somehow admitted to Colonial House for a 90-day inpatient program.
Continue reading The 12 Steps
I write these words because I am 100% sure there are many more out there who have felt this way and/or are feeling this way right now. I want you to know that you are not alone. And there is a reason for everything that is happening in your life. Have faith, stay strong, keep seeking, and amazing things can happen.
As far back as I can remember, I felt like ‘reality’ wasn’t quite the way it seemed. And I especially knew that things were NOT the way those ‘grown ups’ in charge of me were telling me they were. It always felt like I was missing an important piece of the puzzle, like everybody was holding out on a key piece of information and I didn’t know why.
I remember things that my family tells me I shouldn’t remember – I was too young to remember they say. I feel like I came into life with a lot of memories. Memories that most of us want to forget when we embody, that blissful state of amnesia we choose to operate from most of our lives. But some of us ask to remember, NEED to remember – so we can do the work we came here to do. I am one of Those.
Continue reading A Burning Desire to Know the Truth of Reality