Hello again, this is Lizzie writing from the little yoga room and continuing with the blogging about yoga and the flow of life.
This week, I wanted to talk about how yoga can be used as a tool for helping us through some of the more challenging moments that life has to offer. During these uncertain and somewhat chaotic times it can be that last thing on our mind; to go to our yoga mat.
Quite often I hear people saying. "yoga?... oh no, I am far too busy to do yoga..." or "Yoga? are you kidding me, I cannot add one more thing on my "To Do" list!!". The problem is that when life is presenting challenges to us we really do think that we have not enough time, to "do" one more thing. What is it about our pereception of yoga in the West that deems it as another thing to "do"?
Since the death of my beloved dad six weeks ago, yoga has been my saviour. Not in the sense that I need to add to my busy schedule and rush off to "do" a class. Rather, it is yogic breathing, asana and yoga nidra that is helping me through my grief. The tears I still shed for my dad happen in the morning either before or after asana practice; either before or after meditation....my "morning tears" I call them. They are becoming much less as time goes on and even though I miss my dad acutely, I know that through the practice of yoga on and off the mat will bring me comfort and peace of mind.
Grief and loss will affect everyone at some point in their lives and it is important to be able to express and release our feelings in a healthy and non-judgemental way. When I worked as a bereavement therapist, it was always humbling to be able to spend time with people who genuinely wanted to come to terms with their loss and lives. Grief is not an unnatural state of being, but allowing ourselves to grieve in a healthy and non-judgemental way can be something that we struggle with.
There is no doubt that whenever we suffer a loss it is important that we feel our sadness and grief. If we distract ourselves by working too much, eating too much or even exercising in any way which is driven, we are only damming the flow. If we are fortunate the dam may burst when we are safe in the coccoon of loving family or friends. If the dam does not burst however the fellings and emotions may become frozen and we may experience a numbness and then depression.
Psychologist Rubin Naiman believes that most of our emotional distress comes from, "faulty resolutions to loss- that is, bad grieving". What we need in these distressing times is "Good grieving" practice. We need to give ourselves time and space to breathe and allow our bodies to open up so that feelings can flow uninhibited by our controlling thoughts.
The yogic three part breath or Dirga Pranayama can be used very successfull while we are in a relaxed Shavasana or corpse pose. To further assist in this ten minute asana we can lie on the floor with pillows and cushions to make our selves as comfortable as we can, the whole idead here is to "let go" in the physical sense, while remaining open to the flow of feelings and thoughts that continue to move through our bodies and consciousness.
The three part breathing is an excellent tool to aid sleep as well as releasing tensions from the body and relaxing the mind. It is recommended that you stay in this position for ten minutes and practise Dirga Pranayama for five minutes if you are a beginner and not more than fifteen minutes if you are experienced.
Make yourself comfortable and allow your body to relax. As you inhale imagine the lower part of your lungs filling pause slightly and then continue the inhale to the middle part of the lungs, pause again, and then continue the breath until the whole of the lungs are filled. Pause for one or two counts and then slowly let the breath be breathed out through the lips as if you were blowing out a candle. Repeat this for five, ten or the full fifteen minutes.
Allowing the breath to be breathed out slowly has a calming effect on the body as the Parasympathetic Nervous system kicks in and actively releases tension from all muscles. Once you have completed your breathing, gently roll over on to one side and notice how you feel, both emotionally as well as physically.
This simple yoga asana and yogic breathing can take no more that ten minutes in a day, and yet practiced regularly will have a calming and balancing effect on both the body and the mind. When we suffer trauma, whether physical or emotional, it is both our minds and bodies that are affected and using Yoga as a tool we can find that support we need is already within us.
Yoga is unity and when we practice yoga we unite and integrate ourselves with all our constituent parts so that we can feel whole and balanced. There is a place for a vigorous asana practice and there is a place for ten to fifteen minute break that we can take for ourselves so that we can breathe and allow our bodies and minds to unite in healing and allow our thoughts and feelings to flow with our breath. If the tears fall during this time, know that it is all part of the good medicine that Yoga truly can be.
Dont forget Love Your Body Day is coming to the Reston Town Center this Sunday June 10. Give yourself an opportunity to go along and find out what is current , what is available and what might be good for you and your body. Sadly the Little Yoga Room will not be present this year, but we will be there in spirit!
Have a wonderful week!