The body is a gateway towards your healing

Hey there,

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to "heal" lately.

Does it happen just after a trauma? Is it reserved for specific physical circumstances? Does something "big" have to happen in order to validate the healing process? How do you heal the repetitive negative patterns going on in your mind? In your body? Can healing serve as preventative care?

What I do know about the healing process is that it takes TIME. Effort. And, it usually is helpful to have a support system in place. People like therapists, yoga therapists, a trusted friend, a partner, a parent, a doctor, an acupuncturist, a yoga teacher, a spiritual teacher, etc. can be tremendously helpful in facilitating and guiding your healing process.

Emphasis on guides. At some point, YOU have to learn how to listen as your body speaks. YOU have to do the work of learning to go within, slow down, ask yourself the right questions, get still, and listen for the answers.

And, this is in direct opposition to our culture. We often (though not always) want quick fixes and band-aids so that we can go back to “doing” at what we don’t even perceive to be warp speed, avoiding our pain and traumas, and by doing so we never actually heal. We never actually find wellness. We never actually get to the root causes of what made us unwell in the first place, and so the cycle will continue.

***

If I'm honest, I've really opened myself up to the possibilities of what healing is and what it can look like, especially during my training as a yoga therapist. For me, it often starts with the body. Movement has always been a way to connect with my highest self, source, the Divine, whatever you want to call it, and the most beneficial path for me has been yoga (up until 10 years ago, it was modern dance). Although my yoga lately doesn’t always look like the “yoga” you might see on Instagram and YouTube…

And, your variation of yoga doesn’t have to look like Instagram or YouTube either.

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You can practice Restorative Yoga, only doing five poses in an hour with the support of props like pillows, blocks, blankets, bolsters, and neck rolls to allow yourself to really relax. You can put on music and light a candle, roll out your mat, and simply move to the rhythm of your own heartbeat. You can use yoga therapy balls to roll out the fascia and tissue in the arches of your feet, IT bands, shoulders, the upper chest, hips and low back. You can choose a more vigorous practice followed by a 10 minute savasana.

Whatever you do, focus on your healing, rather than your “fitness” if healing is what you need. Focus on what is happening within your body from the inside out. How does it feel? Where is the tightness? Where do you contract? What are you holding on to or guarding? So much is stored in the body. Memories, pain, trauma. I'm learning to move it out and, through my own self study, how to help others move it out, too. But, this won’t happen in a day or even a week. Your healing will likely take time.

I’m still thinking and studying about the questions on healing from above, but I have a few thoughts to bring this full circle.

  1. Trauma is a word with a wide range of differences. What might be “trauma” to one individual may not be to another. And, because of this variability, some of us push aside our experiences as not a trauma, and healing doesn’t begin as early as it could.

  2. Healing isn’t only reserved for the physical body. Your feelings matter. Honoring them matters. And, often those emotions can affect our physical state of well-being. Healing your emotional layer is a recognition that you are NOT broken, but that you’re hitting some bumps along your journey and may need support to remind yourself of your wholeness.

  3. Experiencing our bodies and reconnecting with them is a gateway towards allowing ourselves to heal. Movement (but not always vigorously), breathing, and meditation combined with other modalities (talk therapy, acupuncture, seeing a doctor, getting into nature, etc.) can be wildly effective in your growth and well-being.

I imagine this is the first post of more to come on what it means to heal, and how we can begin to facilitate our own healing process. Try reconnecting with your body as a start. Gather a support system, but know that it’s only YOU who can really know what you need. Your body is a gateway to the answers that are buried within your being. And, it is already speaking to you. Know that this process is not a quick fix, but it’s more sustainable in the long run. Let’s begin our healing journey there. Yes?

With love,
Leanne

P.S. I’d love to hear how this resonates with you, especially as I continue down this path in yoga therapy. I look forward to sharing how we might work together in a yoga therapy capacity, working towards healing using a combination of movement and yoga postures, breathing techniques, meditation, and talking about whatever needs to come up in the moment. And, I’d love to answer your questions about yoga therapy, too.

I'm just so surprised

Ganesha, the remover of obstacles ; Photo by  Laura Olsen  on  Unsplash

Ganesha, the remover of obstacles ; Photo by Laura Olsen on Unsplash

Hey there,

I recently had the chance to work with a very new to yoga student up here in Rhode Island. We had a one on one session, taking it very slow. For many of us, poses like downward facing dog, plank, and child’s pose are incredibly challenging, so we focused on safe alignment and breathing throughout the hour together.

Aside from the poses [asana], we talked about how yoga views us as multi-layered human beings - that yoga is beyond the physical experience and is really a science to be lived in many different aspects of our lives. That’s just one of the reasons I enjoy working privately - you get to dig into which postures will support your body right now (you don’t need much) and which components of the philosophy could support your heart.

We walked out of the studio together, chatting away, when she stopped, looked at me and said, “How did you get into yoga in the first place?” And, then she said, “I’m just so surprised…it seems like yoga teachers are so…smart.”

Wow. I could take that in a multitude of ways, right? But, I get it. We teach “yoga.” We do yoga because we’re already flexible, we already have perfect lives that we sail through with ease. We drink our green smoothies, diffuse our oils, dry brush before showering, and everything’s fine. I’m totally being sarcastic here. We come across as going with the flow, maybe not being super ambitious, because after all it’s “yoga.”

But, here’s the thing. She’s right. Yoga teachers AND yoga students are the smartest people I’ve ever met. Why? Because they are learning the process of becoming AWAKE. It can seem like we’re chill, flippant, on another planet, but many yoga teachers feel so strongly about teaching because they’ve walked a tremendously difficult path before.

They know firsthand the healing that takes place when you start to roll out a yoga mat and get quiet, and so we share the practice. We’ve left big careers to open businesses, moved across country, go back to school, essentially deciding to believe in ourselves. Yoga knows no bounds - we are women, men, doctors, lawyers, teachers, stay at home parents, carpenters, musicians, flexible, not flexible at all, wobbly, graceful. We let yoga infiltrate our lives, because it WORKS. But, there’s struggle. There’s been pain, there might still be, and there will be again. There’s been fear. It’s just…we’re learning different ways of viewing the world and how to interact with it. We’re becoming conscious.

***

This weekend, Yoga Dear celebrated her third birthday. WOW. We’ve grown in ways I never imagined, teaching over 1500 students in our time with a brick + mortar space in little Lewisburg, Pa., and continuing to have newsletter readers from Rhode Island to Hawaii to New York to California to Florida.

Sharing these letters, teaching, studying yoga, and learning from you has been one of the greatest gifts I could have never imagined. YOU are among the smartest people I’ve ever met, because you’re choosing to challenge yourself. To get uncomfortable, which starts with those beginner yoga poses, but really spills over into allowing discomfort in your life. You’re realizing your infinite potential, you’re listening to your inner voice over your inner critic (or at least you’re aware of it), you’re making decisions out of love rather than fear.

I toast you, each of you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing your words and practice with me. Thank you for studying with me. Please thank yourself for how far you’ve come, for how much you’ve learned. And, remember, we as yoga students and teachers still have much work to do - on ourselves and in our communities. Happy Birthday to all who’ve called Yoga Dear home as a studio, and as a place to read a weekly letter with a hot cup of tea. I bow to you. Namaste.

With love,
Leanne