Yoga has a lot of benefits to it but just how does it work? This week, Lucy McCarthy answers with her view on ‘How Yoga Heals’
Yoga is a very magical and special tool for our lives. Like all things, all different types of people seek out yoga for a myriad of reasons. For some, initially the desire is purely physical, to get fit or to help recover from an injury.
For others it may be the desire to calm and quiet their mind that brings them to yoga. And for others still it may be an emotional issue that they wish to resolve and have heard that yoga has the transformational power to help with this.
But whatever the initial reason for coming to yoga, what I think is amazing is the healing journey that yoga usually takes us on.
Best of all it usually isn’t singular, the healing is holistic- as in it helps heal us as a whole. All aspects of us- body, mind & spirit. For me that really is why I have stayed hooked on yoga all these years and become not only passionate about my own journey of yoga and healing but of bringing it to others. Helping this amazing, ancient, healing art reach those who are most in need of it. In truth, almost all of us have some healing of old wounds to do.
Part of the beauty of a mindful yoga practice is that it connects up disparate aspects of ourselves.
It links the mind and the body, connects head and heart and in the process allows us to integrate, embrace and accept all aspects of ourselves. This leads to a sense of reclaiming our innate wholeness and when that happens deep, profound healing starts to happen within.
The magical thing about healing ourselves through the practices of yoga- deep breathing, mindful movement, concentration and meditation- is that the healing doesn’t end with us.
When we work on ourselves to mend our unresolved issues, to heal our hearts and reclaim a relationship with self that is kind and loving; this usually results in the rest of our lives changing too.
Suddenly the world is an easier place to navigate and our relationships seem smoother. We are better able to negotiate the inevitable ups and downs of life with less reactivity and more steadiness. This then really does affect our day to day lives and all those around us.
But how does this actually work? How and why does yoga help us to heal?
Well, for me, it all comes back to this idea that ‘we hold our issues in our tissues’. Meaning, that because of the connection between our mind and body, they are not separate, what we do with our mind affects our body and vice versa.
So often unexpressed or repressed emotions, old wounding and trauma can get lodged in our physical body, our tissues and muscles, and that through the process of physical movements we do in yoga (asana) combined with the deep breathing, this allows for these old trapped energies to be softened and ultimately released.
Which is why, we can frequently find ourselves out of nowhere in the middle of a yoga class feel sudden emotions arising. Common ones may be feelings of anger, frustration or rage arising in deep thigh stretches, or feelings of sadness or grief arising in deep hip openers.
Yoga and the practice of it, creates a context in which deep healing can happen. So that over the years of practice I have done I have explicitly experienced many deep emotional releases in various poses and cumulatively this has led to me healing my past, releasing old wounding which has allowed me to step more fully and whole heartedly into the present moment. Which ultimately has allowed me to lead a happier, more enriching life.
So next time you are feeling big emotions arise in your life, instead of reaching for the nearest distraction in whatever form you usually seek out- food, work, sex, social media- try instead taking a few deep breaths in the sensation, go to class, use the practice as a form of good medicine in your life to help you heal and reclaim your wholeness.