I went to a yoga class in Bergen County this week that truly felt like it saved me, literally. It’s why I go, most of the time. To be rescued, either from myself or to find a way back to my center.
Sometimes I go to yoga class because I feel tight and stressed (restorative), I need to move my body and shake some things off (kundalini yoga), to quiet the chatter, get back to grounded. Sometimes I just go to sweat, (vinyasa yoga). Sometimes I go to find stillness, to lift myself to higher ground (meditation).
But I’ve learned that when I am particularly feeling off-center when my edges feel frayed when I start to get abrupt with everyone when I lose any and all perspective so much that I weep thinking there may not be enough coffee, I go to yoga to fix myself. And when I am within my practice, I am reminded I don’t need fixing. I am perfectly imperfect just the way I am.
I am beyond thankful for well-rounded studios like Body Positive Works that offer so many different styles to fit my every need, a yoga studio in Bergen County that offers a space to reap the benefits of yoga, offers different types of yoga, and focuses more on the whole practice of yoga, than merely on the poses.
I found yoga in 1997, my life looked perfectly fine from the outside, I had a job, and a loving family, but inside I was truly dying, an empty soul, I so longed for balance and stability. (Soul Sick people don’t always look like sick people).
I stumbled upon my first yoga class in 1997, fueled by a huge eating disorder with a desire to have a body like Madonna’s. In addition to that eating disorder, I was also coming from a background of severe drug addiction, anxiety, and panic attacks.
My entry point for the profound shift in thinking that has taken place within me was through numerous treatment centers, but the missing link was a consistent yoga and meditation practice.
I realized that untangling myself from the grip of addiction seemed impossible at times, but a weekly yoga practice began to lift me to higher ground.
There are numerous benefits of yoga:
Yoga is a collection of techniques and movements that lead to enhancing attitudes and a sense of well being.
The practice incorporates postures, breathwork, and other methods in meditation to promote physical strength, healing, and spirituality. These days it’s difficult to find any healing facility that doesn’t offer some form of yoga or mind-body awareness. Some teach meditation, which helps you to sit quietly and calm the body and mind with the breath, and experience feelings of peace and comfort.
Other classes can teach a series of yoga poses that are simple enough for people who have never done yoga. The goal is to give people the skills they need in order to tolerate the uncomfortable feelings and sensations that lead to the negative narrative. (SOME OF THOSE POSES CAN BE REALLY TRIGGERING) Addiction, stress, and anxiety takes a person out of their body and prevents them from connecting to what they are physically feeling and what their body is telling them.
Many people don’t understand how to navigate and master the fearful racing thoughts. In some instances during yoga practice we can find refuge, in some instances we can find relief from feeling like a prisoner in our own thoughts. Because of the biological changes that occur to the brain in addiction, motivation and priorities can become distorted.
Attuning to bodily based cues through active modalities such as yoga can go a long way to help people begin to be more mindful in their responses. As someone healing from stress and anxiety, yoga is very effective at regulating the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. An imbalance of these hormones has been associated with anxiety disorders, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder, as well as substance abuse. It’s truly biochemical in some cases, like mine!
The real benefit of yoga is not to become bendy or attempt to change the shape of a particular body part. Instead, the real benefit and purpose of yoga are to remember. Actually, it is really about remembering who we are not. We are not the big job, the alcoholism, the failed marriages, the so-called mistakes, the traumatic experiences we may have endured, the mother, the father, the various roles we play as, child, wife, friend, etc. We are all those things, but they are not who we are. Who we are is timeless and perfect and whole already!
What is the ultimate benefit of yoga? Yoga is about remembering who we are….. We are the diamond in the rough! And when I am within my practice, I am reminded I don’t need fixing. I am perfectly imperfect just the way I am.