Yoga and Healing

“The invisible must be made visible before it can be eradicated.”   –Patanjali, Yoga Sutra

Many of us know more about the way that our computers, VCRs or cars work than we do about the functioning of our own bodies.  This is unfortunate since very few things can have as large an impact on our daily lives as the health of our physical being.  Like our computers or automobiles, we often don’t appreciate how much our body means to us until it is broken.  Yoga is one way to learn more about our bodies and how to heal on every level.

The regular practice of yoga teaches us the value of recognizing and accepting our current situation, whatever it may be.  Known as Satya or truthfulness, this does not mean that you have to approve of or even see the possible value of an injury or illness.  It does mean that you acknowledge and recognize your current state and are willing to stay present to your own life to truly discover what is going on.  By accepting yourself completely, everything becomes possible.  Deny any part of your being and you begin to fragment and go to war with yourself.  Then you’ll have nothing to work with!

Yoga retrains us to recognize and uncover that which is hidden with calmness and compassion.  This is the practice of Ahimsa or non-violence.  When we are ill or injured, yoga helps us to know that our physical ailments, whatever they may be, have become visible in order for you to make peace with another part of yourself that you have either knowingly or unknowingly denied or ignored for weeks, months or even years.

Because our mental state has such a large influence on the physical body, it is important to be aware of the thoughts we think.  Our thoughts can activate a fight or flight response, excite us to passion.  They can lull us to sleep or create a powerful state of anxiety.  Glandular secretions, muscular tension and neurotransmitter activity are all heavily influenced by the way we perceive our current situation.  Like radio waves, thoughts have the potential to continue long after they have started and can have a lasting impact on our lives.

Criticism, judgements and guilt are by far the most destructive thought patterns we can choose.  Critical, judging thoughts are violent thoughts that do not support healing, so it is important to let them go.  The instant feedback provided by yoga asanas or the physical postures allow us to learn this lesson of non-violence on a cellular level whether we are dealing with a tight hamstring or a chronic illness.

As a recent popular TV series about people stuck on the same island reminds us, surviving implies a state of struggle and competition. The true path of yoga never separates mind, body and spirit but always treats the individual as a unified whole.  Existing in this way can mean the difference between merely surviving and truly living at one with all creation.

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