I have always known, from the very beginning of my practice, that yoga has the most amazing power to heal. I have always seen it, however, from a psychological lens, perhaps because it comes with my job as a psychologist. Nonetheless, from the first time I stepped on the mat I saw how yoga can heal the heart and the soul. I write very much about this, in fact, and it really has changed my life. Through the practice of yoga, I have been able to withstand very difficult times I encounter, the kind which at one point of my life, would have led me spiraling down in a pit of depression or reaching for things like food or alcohol to cover up those feelings that I could not sit with. Because of my practice, I have been able to make amends and surrender to my emotions, knowing that (as cliche as it may sound) it will eventually pass.
The physical part, however, I have often ignored. Sure, it has allowed me to manage my weight issues better, but I never really gave it much thought. Today, however, I was reminded about the integrative nature of this healing. I came from the doctor today and for the first time in many, many years (in fact since the beginning of my diagnosis), I walked away with a complete clean bill of health. To backtrack a bit, I had previously been diagnosed with PCOS when I was in my early twenties and despite all the hormone treatments, surgical interventions, diets and all attempts to keep the disorder at bay, nothing really made it better. Granted that PCOS does not really have a “cure”, it has come to the point that everything is relatively normal. Nothing did that before.
On my way home, I sent a text message to my yin teacher and integrative nutrition counselor and she had asked me what changed. Then it hit me: what changed is that through the practice of yoga, I finally made that choice to live clean and healthy not just in terms of what I eat or put into my body, but even with what I do with my body. I had told her that on the physical side, I was making wiser food choices and my regular practice keeps me focused and on track. Through the practice I became more mindful of the signals of my body and what they’re really telling me. On the emotional and psychological side, however, the practice, especially yin yoga, allowed me to learn how to surrender and release my firm grip on negativity and things that don’t suit me, such as deep-seated resentment. Yoga reminds me to breathe and not react to the volatility of my emotions at the heat of the moment. Doing my teacher training allowed me to step off the beaten path and explore the proverbial road less traveled and allow my creative and free side flourish. Granted that I am still a work in progress, I do see that yoga is the catalyst that allowed for this integration and union to happen.
I highlight the value of yin yoga here, although I do acknowledge that whatever practice it is I take on, they all contribute to the wholeness of my experience. After all, that is what union is all about, right? But what I gained from yin yoga is a deeper understanding of not just my body in pretzel like poses or in inversions, but about how what happens on the inside allows for the outside to come into fruition. From the inside, I saw how tapping into the meridian lines of the body through the long held poses of yin allows for a healthier flow of chi in my body, nourishing me from the very core. On the outside, yin showed me how to be okay with discomfort. To take it slow. To pause. To not push too hard and just surrender. But most of all, through yin I learned that by taking time to rest and restore, be it on the physical plane or deeper within, wellness begins.
So yes, yoga heals.