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Archive for the ‘Yoga’ Category

Yesterday I blogged about Reiki. I cannot talk about Reiki without also talking about yoga. Yoga has been a particularly powerful way for me to heal from child abuse.

I was surprised to get a suggestion from my pastor to engage in yoga after he learned about my child abuse issues. I thought that yoga was “New Age” and, therefore, “bad” in the eyes of the Christian Church. My pastor assured me that many people do yoga before entering into prayer time, etc. That was news to me.

I bought a book about yoga for beginners called Yoga Made Easy by Howard Kent. I also bought some CDs of relaxing music so I could do yoga in my room.

My first reaction was surprise at how my muscles felt after doing yoga. They felt odd, but I could not pinpoint what was wrong. They were not sore like they felt after lifting weights or exercising. It took me a few times to recognize what I was feeling – my muscles were feeling relaxed! I had spent my entire life (a good 35 years) tensing up my muscles thanks to the child abuse and the aftermath. For the first time ever, my muscles learned what it felt like not to be tense. It took me a while to adjust to that feeling.

One thing I did not know going in is that the purpose of yoga is to silence your mind for meditation. The deep breathing and asanas (postures) of yoga lead you to silence your mind, something that I did not believe was even possible for me. As you discipline yourself to stop that constant inner chatter, you free yourself to “hear” your spirit and tap into a power greater than yourself. Once you figure out what you are doing, it is kind of like giving yourself your own Reiki sessions, only you are doing it in a different way.

I love to do yoga and miss it when I don’t get to do it. Unfortunately, I live with an ADHD child who has trouble sleeping thanks to his medication. This makes it very hard for me to have alone time to do yoga and meditation. (I used to do it right before going to bed at night.) When I get a chance to do it again, I always question why I ever stopped. It is like giving myself a massage and a Reiki session all rolled into one!

Photo credit: Faith Allen

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Green Plant (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Yoga and meditation were, and continue to be, very powerful healing tools for me. Now that I have healed the wounds from my childhood, these tools continue to help me grow into a continually more functional and at-peace person. I am talking about these tools together because they really are part of the same process.

In the United States, we have turned yoga into a stretching class, but that is not yoga’s intended purpose. For thousands of years, yoga’s purpose has been to prepare the mind for meditation. So, I do both together – first yoga, immediately followed by meditation.

Yoga is a very spiritual experience when done in the privacy of your own room rather than with a large crowd of people. Yoga helps you focus on being present rather than stuck in the past or fearful of the future. It also teaches you how to quiet your mind – a concept that was foreign to me when I first began these disciplines.

When I first started doing yoga, it almost “hurt” when I finished. I came to realize that the “pain” I was feeling was the release of tension. I had spent most of my life carrying a lot of tension in my shoulders. I truly did not know how it physically felt to relax. Doing yoga helped me to relax my body and, in time, my mind.

Howard Kent’s book, Yoga Made Easy: A Personal Yoga Program That Will Transform Your Daily Life, is a particularly valuable resource for learning the art of yoga as a merging of body, soul, and spirit rather than a series of stretches. It is written for the beginner with no experience in yoga, which is where I was when I started. The book includes lots of pictures and text so you can understand what you are supposed to be doing both physically and mentally.

While Howard Kent’s book also discusses meditation, the best resource I have found is on a blog called The Little Jewel. (If you struggle with religious triggers, skip down to the heading “BASIC MEDITATION TECHNIQUE.”) That blog explains meditation in a very simple way for beginners.

Related Topic:

Positive Coping Tools for Healing from Childhood Abuse

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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