There is no question that spiritual practices like yoga have profound healing benefits for mind, body and soul. The West is catching on and our culture has embraced Yoga as it continues to revolutionize the world of exercise. Yoga is not merely exercise: the word literally means “union.” It is a way to connect to spirit, to become one with all that is.
Whatever yoga means to you or me, or if you meditate or simply do the Asanas (poses), doesn’t really matter. Many of the studios opening up faster than you can say “Namaste” are offering only Asana, the exercise part of yoga. While I prefer going to more old school studios that incorporate Pranayam (breathing) and meditation, many people are benefiting from the Asana practice alone. I have had to let go of my judgments and realize that everyone is on his/her path and that’s why there are many styles and ways to practice. If you’ve never tried yoga but would like to or you’ve had a mediocre experience at a studio, I recommend you try out others. There is so much to choose from out there, and once you find the practice that suits you, it could transform you from the inside out.
That’s pretty much how my life radically changed back in 2006. I was blessed to have found a studio that focused on the meditative aspects of yoga and taught Pranayama (breathing techniques). Yoga brought balance into many areas of my life. I had been recently divorced and was facing stressful situations. The only way I knew to cope was to drink red wine and eat chocolate …. We all know that is a temporary fix and one that is most definitely not sustainable.
I found yoga at the perfect time: I was tired of feeling down, helpless, sluggish. One of the first challenges in my yoga journey was to look at myself in the mirror without judgment during class. That was a tough one! Simply gazing lovingly at myself, acknowledging my efforts, and honoring my practice helped me gain acceptance of my world and move gracefully without numbing my pain. I learned to fall in love with my body, to feel strong from the inside out. I learned the power of my breath, a tool we all carry with us everywhere. And it’s free!
I began bringing my practice home. My children also learned to breathe before going to bed, and I chanted a relaxing song to them every night. We meditated on those spinning colorful wheels called chakras and it became a game, a game of focus, attention and relaxation. Yoga’s benefits extended to my family, friends …. anyone I came in contact with, really. The moment I changed my perception and altered my state of being, naturally my world changed.
Compassion changes everything. While the divorce papers still needed my attention and the bills stacked up and my emotions were overwhelming, now I had the tools to deal with all those things with compassion, with love, and with less attachment. It’s not as if I suddenly had stopped feeling anger or pain, but my emotions stopped running the show once I processed them in a healthy way. I used my breath to center myself in my heart and, let me tell you, decisions coming from a place of love have better outcomes than do the actions coming out of fear or insecurity. It’s been an amazing journey and every day is new in my practice. Some days my practice consists of sitting for a few moments with one hand on my heart and one on my belly while consciously breathing love into every cell of my being. All it takes is a few moments of awareness to shift blocks of stagnant energy.
Meditation brought clarity to the things I needed to change, and the Asana practice gave me the will to take the appropriate action. I needed deep emotional and mental healing, and that is exactly what my practice produced — a sense of well being and self-love. However, for many, yoga literally has been a life saving device for devastating diseases. I recently came across Bhava Ram’s book,Warrior Pose. In it, he describes how yoga literally saved his life. Bahva Ram (Brad Willis) was a war correspondent forced to retire early due to a broken back and failed surgery. Not only was he left crippled and disabled but he also contracted a rare and fatal form of cancer, which happened most likely during his coverage of the Persian Gulf War. The cancer spread throughout his body. At the brink of death, Bhava embraced all aspects of yoga and has devoted his life to mind-body medicine, self-healing and transformation. He successfully healed himself from stage four cancer and constant pain. He is dedicated to delivering to the world a message of hope and self-empowerment; he reminds us that we have the power to heal our lives and ourselves. Today, Bhava Ram is an advanced Yoga and Ayurveda educator in San Diego.
Stories like Bhava Ram’s are becoming increasingly popular as more and more people accept many paths toward healing. This is empowering, and people’s lives are changing daily. The result is a trail of inspiration for those whose hope has been dimmed. You won’t hear these transformational stories from the main media, so I am grateful that we have access to this information in yoga journals, websites, documentaries, etc. Look and you shall find. The healing power of yoga is available for all.
For more information about this:
Bhava Ram Bhavaram.com