I have been practicing yoga for over 7 years now and felt it was finally time to learn what was hiding behind our mats and our physical practice. Learning more about yoga has heightened my awareness of what the human body is capable of. Blending Physiotherapy and Yoga enables me to look at the whole body from more than just an anatomical perspective.
There is so much that can affect the way we move, what feels good, what doesn’t feel good, and how our thoughts and emotions contribute to our willingness to move. I’m sharing with you today some interesting insights that I learned from my first Yoga Teacher Training with yoga instructor, Julia McCabe (http://juliamccabe.com/).
Our physical practice, asana, is only one of the eight limbs of yoga
As I suspected there was more to yoga than the physical postures that we love (and or hate). An hour or so of yoga practice can surely make our bodies feel revitalized but it also helps to clear our minds and prepare us for daily challenges on and off our mats. As we work through a yoga class we learn about our physical body, what our strengths and weakness are, and we are encouraged to push our bodies to new limits. This eventually translates to becoming present in the moment, to work with what we have, and to reach new goals. Many people begin to explore yoga with a physical practice. As we progress and continue with yoga we learn that it is deeply connected to many aspects of our lives.
Breath work is connected to our anatomy but also to our inner energy and frame of mind
A lot of literature is available on how our breath and ability to breath throughout activity is essential to effective and efficient exercises. Here is a yogic perspective: The first time a yoga instructor had us do kapalabhati breathing I almost burst out in laughter. After successfully stifling my giggles, and after encountering it a few more times in different classes, I’ve learned to love it. Kapalabhati breathing is a forceful exhale using your abdominal muscles, and it’s repeated anywhere from 30-100 times in a row. It is meant to cleanse the lungs and the respiratory system but it also helps to tone our core muscles. This is just one type of breath control or pranayama. Any type of pranayama, encourages us to do warrant a sense of control while increasing our awareness. Breathing is essential, and by having different ways to alter something that comes so naturally to our bodies provides us with the ability to manage any current state our body may be in. Breath control can be done on or off the mat, and is a way to “reduce stress, anxiety, depression and stagnant energy” (McCabe, 2015).
Being true to yourself
Sometimes that last thing you want to do after a long and trying day is go to a yoga class. You may be in physical pain, emotional pain, or under different stresses. Practicing yoga during these times may actually be the most beneficial time to do so. Yoga can provide a medium for you to work through challenging times even if we cannot see or feel an immediate change. Channelling your energies, whether positive or negative, through a physical practice and different postures can help you use your inner strength and energy to overcome something you may be going through. Being true to yourself and acknowledging whatever it is you are feeling can help to make you stronger and provide you with strategies to cope; yoga has a funny way of teaching you to forgive yourself, be patient with yourself, but to also push yourself.
“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self” – The Bhagavad Gita
By Jacqueline St. Martin, MPT, BA, ECE