Healer, Heal Thyself Part 3: Yoga

Welcome to my journey of healing a torn meniscus using holistic, alternative therapies that align with my belief system. I recently explored body-mind-spirit healing, and next up is the ancient sacred practice of yoga. I’m not talking about the fast-paced, “work-out” style of yoga that seems to be popular in the U.S. these days. I don’t like to feel like I’m doing jumping jacks in my yoga practice! That seems like an invitation to injury (or re-injury) which is most definitely NOT part of my plan.

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First of all, I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. In addition to following the suggestions of your medical practitioner, you might consider consulting a yoga therapist.

Yoga therapists are trained to help people adapt poses and develop a practice that is safe for any body type or physical limitation. This would be my recommendation for most people wishing to use yoga to support the healing of any injury. Find a trained teacher who can guide you through the practice.

Having been a student of yoga for the past 25 years, I have loads of experience at accepting what my body can and cannot do. I’ve given up the idea of trying to look like the person on the mat next to me. I have no idealized version of how my practice should look and I feel quite comfortable doing what I can, no matter how restricted it may seem. This acquired humbleness and authenticity combined with 15 years of practicing massage therapy allows me to feel confident guiding my own practice safely.

For me, yoga is an exercise of the mind; of bringing my awareness into my body to focus on softening the areas that hold tension. It helps me to inhabit my body rather than just using it as a vehicle to carry me from place to place. Bringing compassionate awareness into the painful areas brings prana (the Sanskrit word for life- force energy that we call ki in Reiki healing) to the tissues that need it- the very tissues that I tend to ignore and numb out.

For me the combination of breathing deeply, infusing my cells with prana, focusing my mind, becoming fully present, and mindful (and in this case slow and gentle) movement is extraordinarily healing. Plus it stimulates the Relaxation Response; a physiological reaction that releases feel-good, calming chemicals in my brain.  It’s like getting the benefits of a two week vacation rolled into an hour. Seriously, what could be better than that? Maybe a massage… but that’s for the next installment. 🙂

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