ad | If you’ve hung around on my blog before then you’ll probably know by now that I love Yoga. I’m an avid Yogi and like to talk about Yoga regularly, to hopefully encourage someone to roll out their mat and give it a try. So it’s always an honour when I can combine my love of Yoga and writing with my work, like in today’s post!
I know a lot of people almost take the p*ss out of those who believe that Yoga can be used as a form of healing from mental, emotional or physical problems. The idea that “try Yoga!” is just something we say, in this day and age, that’s along the same lines as “just manifest your chronic illness away!”
It’s very much NOT the same thing and whilst I don’t subscribe to prescribing any one individual thing for healing, it can very much take a multitude of things in tandem to promote effective healing, I do just want to point out that Yoga does have incredible physical, emotional and mental benefits.
I’m not just saying that. It’s true.
But it will give you tools to help you function more effectively with whatever you are going through. There are many aspects to Yoga that can aid and promote healing, it gives you the groundwork and the foundations for you to build upon to aid your own healing from there on.
I know this first hand because Yoga has played an absolutely HUGE role in my healing from my anxiety disorder. When I was in the midst of my anxiety disorder and was desperately searching for something – anything – to help, I decided to give Yoga a go.
It took a few years for me to get into the groove and find a teacher I liked (I still use Yoga With Adriene on YouTube to this day – daily!) but once I did, I knew I had found something really special that was helping me in more ways than I ever thought possible.
Did Yoga heal me on its own? No.
And I love Yoga more than ever.
Heal Your Body and Mind with Yin Yoga by Miranda Mattig Kumar
All that being said, let me first introduce you to the wonderful book Heal Your Body and Mind with Yin Yoga by Miranda Mattig Kumar:
“Stress, pain and anxiety are all a result of our fast-paced and sometimes impersonal and unforgiving society. If you add a lack of physical activity, recurring ailments like back, hip, or shoulder pain may affect your quality of life.
It is important to understand how essential it is to adopt regular movement and activity that helps to reintegrate the mind-body connection.
You will then begin to experience the benefit of that integration in your daily life through better sleep and enhanced mood. That is why Yin, a yoga discipline, can be beneficial to young and old, male, and female alike and is easily accessible to everyone.
Practising Yin Yoga postures which are maintained for several minutes allows the mind to calm and reconnect.”
This simple, well-designed guidebook is a detailed handbook to practising Yin Yoga techniques with ease.
Access to its benefits is provided by many comprehensive Yin Yoga illustrations, diagrams and additional interactive online exercise sessions via the YouTube channel which can be easily accessed by QR codes through your mobile phone.
This is an incredible book which, I think anyone who loves Yoga but is also interested in the physiology of the human body, would love. It’s like a biology lesson, as well as a book about Yoga.
It’s littered with helpful diagrams that you can learn from which help you understand each individual body part, including certain conditions in which you can use Yoga to help you heal from, such as back pain.
There’s an excellent section all about the chakras, which explains each one, what they represent and how you can encourage them to function and flow more freely.
She then includes a full section at the end with examples of Yin Yoga poses, explaining how to do them safely and offering modifications for anyone who struggles.
I think for anyone getting into Yoga, especially for preventative care, this is an excellent tool.
It’s the kind of book you can dip into whenever you feel you need it – I know I will, especially with the chakras. I’ve always been interested to learn more about them and this is a great place to start.
What else can we learn from Yoga that allows us to use it as a healing tool?
Consider your mat your safe space
This is a big one for me and not just in regards to using Yoga to help my anxiety. But for general life, every day stress and just when things are… a little bit crap.
As soon as I roll my mat out, my shoulders relax, my breathing gets a little easier and I can relax. Perhaps for the first time that day. It took a while to get to this point but this is one of the most beautiful tools that Yoga can give you, with regular practice.
Learning breathing techniques
Breathing techniques can be an absolute Godsend. I know they have been for me. Ujjayi breath is my absolute favourite and it’s helped to calm me down in some of my more anxiety-inducing moments. There are a whole range of breath techniques to learn from Yoga, there will be something that works for everyone!
Being present and focusing on the moment
When you’re healing from something, whether it’s a mental illness like me, a life event, an injury or something else entirely, it can be TOO easy to always be caught up in what might happen (and also, what’s already transpired). If you suffer with anxiety, then you definitely know this!
Yoga can help by prompting you to focus on the moment and be in the present and the more you practice doing this on the mat, the easier it’ll be to implement off the mat too!
When referring to Yin Yoga, like in Miranda’s book, then this is going to be the type of Yoga that slows you down and that’s exactly what you want when you’re healing – whether that’s physically or emotionally. The fiery practices are fantastic too but it’s all about that balance.
Acknowledging your thoughts without judgement
Adopting a meditation practice has really encouraged me to do this. It’s difficult and it takes PRACTICE but that’s why we refer to Yoga and meditation as a “practice”. Because it’s always a process and a learning-curve.
We all have limiting beliefs that hold us back and intrusive thoughts that might scare us. Learning to accept, acknowledge and move on from those thoughts it’s a process in itself but a wonderful one to learn and practice.
A sense of community
And finally, a sense of connection and community can play a vital role in healing and recovery. And Yoga is a great thing to get involved in to do that. Even if you’re doing Yoga at home – like me – there’s still a sense of community among the Yoga With Adriene YouTube channel and you’ll quickly find people online who love Yoga as much as you!
Yoga isn’t for everyone. But neither is running or swimming or cycling.
When you look at Yoga as merely a form of exercise (which it can be and is a great form of exercise!) then you’re much more likely to dismiss it as something you won’t enjoy.
Peel back the layers of Yoga and open your eyes to what it could possibly reveal in you, then that’s a different story.
Cultivating this safe and sacred space to help you heal from whatever you’re struggling with can be so beneficial and I hope this post has at least prompted you to think about maybe rolling out the mat.
Do you do Yoga? Do you use Yoga for healing in any way?
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