YOGA means union of the individual soul with the universal soul, an abstract notion perhaps which can be easily misunderstood. In other words, the science of yoga is there to help us treat our body as a divine vehicle, so that both mind and body become vibrant and are drawn towards a spiritual path or path of one’s soul journey and freedom. Emotional healing, flexibility, peace and calm can be considered as beneficial side-effects of yoga
Asana – Physical Practice, Meditation or Both?
In the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali (compilation of yoga wisdom), asana (posture or seat) is defined as “sthira-sukham-āsanam”. This means that if we want to experience the full benefits of yoga practice, it is recommended to be comfortable in asana and practice with strength and meditative awareness. In the West, we had forgotten about meditative aspect of asanas and yoga is mainly used as a physical tool. However, research shows that meditation shifts brainwaves to calmer and happier states. At Harvard University, Prof. George uses meditation to train self-aware and conscious leaders. Meditation is the oldest known training for the mind. It can have many purposes but in a nutshell it is an experiential, technical exercise targeted at developing compassion, love, patience, generosity, forgiveness and more far-reaching goals such as effortless and sustained concentration. The thing is, if you don’t train your mind to stay fit and healthy, the mind will tend to be over-reactive and filled with unnecessary chatter. As a result, we tend to experience deep emotional pain, anxieties and addictions. It is very important to delete junk from our system and let go of redundant limiting beliefs, if we want to live lives full of energy and joy.
Yoga and Self-Development
One proven way to overcome our limiting beliefs is through a process of self-discovery, which gives us access to deeper parts of ourselves and enables growth and real integration.
In my experience, yoga as a form of physical and meditative practice has remarkable results in shifting our perspective, healing the past and opening to new possibilities. Just like our bodies need a workout for physical fitness and well being, our brains have to be trained too in order to be fit, healthy, able to deal with stress, life’s challenges, and the ‘rollercoaster ride’ of emotions. Our focus has to shift towards learning to love, accept and honour ourselves, cultivating different skills to release the inner critic and blame, and creating from harmony rather than conflict.
So, how does emotional healing actually happen when practicing yoga?
Our blockages and limiting beliefs happen on a feeling (body) level as a projection of suppressed energy held in the subconscious. Yoga can assist with awakening self-acceptance and deep self-love, being “in the moment” with the experience. In brief, we could transcend any negative (or positive) experience by using these 3 steps in asana:
1) Bodywork – calming your mind to feel whatever comes up in your body, such as tightness in your hamstrings, stress in your shoulders, or judgmental thoughts in your mind. Here you are allowing your intuition and body wisdom to help you become aware of your body sensations and feelings. Very often yoga brings to the surface suppressed anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety, or any other “negative” feelings to be cleared from our chitta (memory storage). Choose to accept whatever feeling or thought might come up, e.g. accept pain in your shoulders or the feeling of being stressed out. Realise that pain is created in rejection of uncomfortable feelings.
2) Surrender – dissolving the energy of our experience by surrendering to asana or something bigger than our egos. With deep breath, release experience and energy into the ground. Catharsis and emotional healing happen at this level, without conscious control. Pain can be released from our bodies and we can transcend our addictions, stress and anxieties. The healing process can be instantaneous, or it can take a few months or even years to clear all blockages that hold us back. This really depends on you, and your desire and readiness to shift perspectives. I have witnessed that life can change quickly if you allow it.
3) Energise – we are shifting our vibe with an aim to remove old energy and heal our bodies. Our thoughts and emotions are just energy. Our bodies and energies are meant to be moving. When you experience new energy in your body, let it flow and observe it without attachment.
Our Personal Energetic Frequency
When we get stuck in old patterns, we are actually stuck in our old limiting beliefs imposed on us by our parents and society. We are not allowing our energy to change, increase our vibration and manifest our goals. In fact, your personal energy frequency might be one thing that is preventing you from achieving the life you desire. In a nutshell, if your mind is focused on your problems, on what’s not working – if you spend time feeling bad about yourself, about your life, and angry towards others – then what you’ll attract will be in alignment with those thoughts and feelings. Stepping into the “now” can instantly dissolve negativity and raise your vibration so you only attract what you desire most. Yoga can assist us to stay present and develop our inherent skill to have power over our choices, release blame and take responsibility for whatever is happening in our life. Yoga as a way of life can reflect back to you all your dreams, aspirations and the inevitable resistances that we all have, which can block us from achieving these if we don’t become aware of them and work to let go of them. Ultimately you’ll have to make the choice and take the action to make empowering changes in your life. Is there an action that you would like to make right NOW and shift your energy to align with your goals?