“Yoga? You’re kidding, right?” My response to the suggestion that yoga would be a good way to reinforce the 10 weeks of Rolfing (structural integration) I had just completed was automatic and defensive. A former swimmer with Olympic aspirations, I tended to approach all kinds of physical activity as training. Though I didn’t know much about yoga, my impression was that it was for non-athletes – people who liked to meditate and tie their bodies into unnatural, pretzel-like postures. On the other hand, the main reason I needed Rolfing was because of damage to my spine caused by years of over-training. As a bodyworker and healer myself, I knew something had to change.
In the end, I was intrigued enough by my Rolfer’s experiences with yoga (she’s no pretzel) to do some research. What I found left me marveling (yet again) at the way each new lesson appears in my life just as I’m ready to learn it.
Far from being a namby-pamby, watered down version of exercise, yoga is a powerful tool for integrating mind, body, and spirit. The word “yoga” means union, and the combination of postures and breathing not only quiet the mind and strengthen the body, but open energetic channels as well. Moreover, in the hands of a skilled yoga therapist (a yoga teacher who has been trained in how to adapt traditional techniques to the specific needs of individuals with health problems or injuries) yoga becomes a healing art.
I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that exactly the right yoga therapist appeared in my life, nor that the first thing out of her mouth was, “Now this is not a competition to see who can get on the cover of Yoga Journal. It’s about breathing and listening to what the body needs.”
Since entering Kate Hillman’s studio (www.kateyoga.com) approximately six months ago, I have forged a new and more compassionate relationship with my body. Moreover, I am stronger, more flexible, and able to integrate my own work (www.conversationswithessentiallight.com) more easily.
Equally important, however, has been the formation of a community of healing professionals known as the Transcendent Healing Collective. The collective includes everything from mainstream western doctors - such as an osteopath, psychotherapist, and dentist - to those working in more integrative fields such as yoga therapy, naturopathy, and ayurvedic counseling. Together we explore how our various disciplines dovetail, and share our perspectives on particular health topics (stress, interpersonal relationships, aging, playing for health, etc.) with the world at large. This takes the form of a weekly blog called Transcendent Healing (www.transcendenthealing.com) to which we all contribute on a rotating basis.
Needless to say I had to smile when Krista asked for stories of how yoga has affected your life. I can’t think of any aspect of my life that hasn’t been positively affected by yoga. It is one of the few disciplines that addresses all aspects of being - offering tools for positive, life-affirming change.
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