Connect with us

Ayurveda

How Yoga Teacher Training Helped Me Find Healing Courage When I Needed it Most

Published

on


After five surgeries and a lifelong battle with her health, one writer unexpectedly found strength and healing through yoga, friendship, and physical and emotional support.

After five surgeries and a lifelong battle with her health, one writer unexpectedly found strength and healing through yoga, friendship, and physical and emotional support.

“You’re better now, right?” people sometimes asked.

I had to hedge.

“Mostly,” I said. “I’m mostly OK.”

I wanted to be totally better, to have a clean break between sick and better. But illness like mine doesn’t work like that. It’s like having a cold that lingers, and you think every day might be the last day and tomorrow will be better, and then you forget what feeling better feels like and you just hang on, and “normal” changes, and you’re not sure if you still have a cold or not, until one day you wake up and you just don’t have a cold but you don’t know what broke it or why then. And I was in the in-between, even after I got better, for over a year.

I slowly edged off of almost all of my medications. I took 14 pills a day and then I took 13. Then 12, then 11, then 12, but one was different. And I kept doing everything else, everything I could think of: desensitization, allergy testing, enzymes, iron supplements, yoga, yoga, yoga. And therapy.

I signed up for a teacher training, and I set a rule: No one could touch me. It was enforceable because of the container of our weekends together, because there were only nine trainees total, because everyone was working through their shit. I was able to ease up during those hours, and because of that easing I was able to recognize how guarded I felt the rest of the time. And then slowly I began to touch again. First just my teacher-training partner, Kristen, who was so similar to me that I felt I could trust her. And then another woman, Alice, whose brightness and raspy voice felt like a waterfall of care. I touched them and then, once I could tell my nervous system that touch wasn’t only about pain, I let them touch me.

See also Healing Heartbreak: A Yoga Practice to Get Through Grief

I had been touched against my will for so many years by so many people. And they were, for the most part, well-meaning touches, pats on the arm, or hugs. But I had also been touched in ways that I had consented to but did not want. In a matter of a few years, I had brain surgery to drain a cyst that had hemorrhaged into my brain, heart surgery to seal an extra pathway in my heart that could lead to sudden death, and experienced a range of debilitating symptoms that turned out to be a rare disease called mast cell activation syndrome, which tricks your body into thinking it’s allergic to everything. I had consented to every one of my surgeries, but I had also been, occasionally, roughly handled. By trainee doctors—my surgeons were all at teaching hospitals—or by nurses for whom I was just another number. I was starting to remember more, too, about how it felt to lie down and put my head onto a plate, knowing even through the fog of Versed—the greatest anxiolytic ever produced—that my skull was about to be cracked open.

Every other weekend, I went to the yoga studio and learned the language of healing. I learned about empathic feelings and how I picked up the sadness and the fear and the anxiety of others. “I’m not an empath,” I’d written, proudly, on my application. A few weeks into the training, I realized that the opposite was true. That I am so deeply empathic that I’d had to numb myself for years with drugs and sugar and television and sex and men and women. I learned to talk my cohort through a pose, into and out of it again. I roared in
Lion’s Breath.

One evening, I experimented with letting another student touch my head. The tremulousness of her touch sent me into panic. I opened my eyes and looked up at the familiar ceiling of the studio.

“I’m in present time, I’m in present time, I’m in present time,” I whispered to myself. I tapped my arms, willing my body to come back to present time, out of the trauma accordion, but I couldn’t. It was stuck in exam rooms, surgery clinics, waiting lounges. It was stuck being touched, being scraped, being carved, being pierced. My teacher came by, sat down next to me, put her hands on my belly. I couldn’t breathe.

See also This Yoga Pose Raised $225K for Metastatic Breast Cancer. Here’s How You Can Help, Too.

“Get up,” she said. I did. “Get into Horse Pose,” she said. I did, standing with my feet three feet apart, knees bent, my hands pressing into the tops of my thighs. And then she roared and then so did I, reaching deep into my body for a sound I had never before made. I screamed, and then the scream turned into something else, and something deep and animal and unimagined came out of my lungs, my throat. I felt the rawness of my throat, my mouth, the way in which talking to doctors and friends and Allison and Lauren and Jason and Winston had kept me alive, the way I had talked myself into existence, and I let it go.

Paying so much attention to my body for six months helped me rewire my relationship with it. I hadn’t noticed how subtly a language of terror and anger had crept into my vocabulary.

“This fucking body keeps trying to kill me,” I had said once, and then I said basically the same thing again and again. I had been so antagonistic toward my body for so long. I’d replaced any kindness toward myself I’d cultivated with an overt hostility.

“Eff you, effing tumor-maker. What the hell is wrong with you?” was the kind of thing I thought to my body every morning, afternoon, and evening.

I understood, theoretically, that this probably wasn’t ideal. But I was so
angry. And the only way out was through: through slowly, over the course of those weekends, beginning to learn my body again. I replaced a loathing for my pelvic cavity, with its propensity to grow weird stuff, with an appreciation for my abdominal muscles through 15 rounds of abs. I replaced an excruciating sensitivity about my neck with an emphasis on what it felt like to stack my skull above my spine. As we learned more and more about sequencing, working with students, and understanding injuries, I learned more and more that my body could become some kind of home. Maybe one that had a couple of broken windows and weird closets, but one that was mine. I’d spent years feeling completely abstracted and then more years feeling completely dependent and trapped; here, finally, I could come back. I could come home.

See also The Simple 5-Part Practice to Encourage Self Acceptance

How To Be Loved: A Memoir of Lifesaving Friendship by Eva Hagberg Fisher

Excerpted from How To Be Loved: A Memoir of Lifesaving Friendship by Eva Hagberg Fisher. Copyright © 2019. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.



Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ayurveda

This Kundalini Yoga Sequence Will Make Conceiving a Little Easier

Published

on

By


Conceiving a child is a miracle. This Kundalini practice rebalances the second chakra for the possibility of conception.

Learn how this Kundalini practice rebalances the second chakra for the possibility of conception.

Conceiving a child is a miracle. Sometimes it can take time and nurturing for pregnancy to occur. Kundalini Yoga is a wonderful tool for conscious conception for both men and women. It integrates the spiritual, energetic, conscious, and unconscious aspects of a person, as well as strengthens the nervous system, balances the hormonal system, and energizes the muscles, organs, and joints of the physical body.

While all of the chakras come into play, it is essential to have a balanced second chakra in order for healthy conception to happen. Many men and women feel as though they are running on adrenaline, weakening their sexuality, sensuality, sensitivity, and emotional well-being. They lose touch with the natural balance that comes from aligning with the creative embrace of the universe.

See also A Sequence to Help You Feel Strong and Secure

Here are four Kundalini Yoga practices that help rebalance the second chakra so that creative expression and our natural, robust fertility are aligned with the ripe possibility of conception. These exercises work for both men and women, helping them to open, allow, and drop their resistance to the natural creativity of the universe flowing through them.

About the Author

Teacher and model Karena Virginia is a Kundalini Yoga teacher based near New York City. She is the coauthor of Essential Kundalini Yoga. Learn more at karenavirginia.com

STUDY WITH KARENA

Join Karena for a unique, six-week online course on the incredibly powerful practices that Kundalini Yoga has to offer. Learn more at yogajournal.com/kundalini101.

Excerpted from Essential Kundalini Yoga: An Invitation to Radiant Health, Unconditional Love, and the Awakening of Your Energetic Potential, by Karena Virginia and Dharm Khalsa. Sounds True, February 2017. Reprinted with permission.



Source link

Continue Reading

Ayurveda

This Kundalini Yoga Sequence Will Make Concieving a Little Easier

Published

on

By


Conceiving a child is a miracle. This Kundalini practice rebalances the second chakra for the possibility of conception.

Learn how this Kundalini practice rebalances the second chakra for the possibility of conception.

Conceiving a child is a miracle. Sometimes it can take time and nurturing for pregnancy to occur. Kundalini Yoga is a wonderful tool for conscious conception for both men and women. It integrates the spiritual, energetic, conscious, and unconscious aspects of a person, as well as strengthens the nervous system, balances the hormonal system, and energizes the muscles, organs, and joints of the physical body.

While all of the chakras come into play, it is essential to have a balanced second chakra in order for healthy conception to happen. Many men and women feel as though they are running on adrenaline, weakening their sexuality, sensuality, sensitivity, and emotional well-being. They lose touch with the natural balance that comes from aligning with the creative embrace of the universe.

See also A Sequence to Help You Feel Strong and Secure

Here are four Kundalini Yoga practices that help rebalance the second chakra so that creative expression and our natural, robust fertility are aligned with the ripe possibility of conception. These exercises work for both men and women, helping them to open, allow, and drop their resistance to the natural creativity of the universe flowing through them.

About the Author

Teacher and model Karena Virginia is a Kundalini Yoga teacher based near New York City. She is the coauthor of Essential Kundalini Yoga. Learn more at karenavirginia.com

STUDY WITH KARENA

Join Karena for a unique, six-week online course on the incredibly powerful practices that Kundalini Yoga has to offer. Learn more at yogajournal.com/kundalini101.

Excerpted from Essential Kundalini Yoga: An Invitation to Radiant Health, Unconditional Love, and the Awakening of Your Energetic Potential, by Karena Virginia and Dharm Khalsa. Sounds True, February 2017. Reprinted with permission.



Source link

Continue Reading

Ayurveda

Feeling a Hot Flash? Learn How Yoga for Menopause Might Help Your Symptoms

Published

on

By


Many women have found that yoga, including restorative and supportive poses, can ameliorate the undesirable side effects of menopause, including hot flashes and more.

Gracefully navigate this transition period, and ameliorate hot flashes, mood swings, and more with these yoga for menopause tips.

When Alison, 48, began experiencing intense hot flashes, they often arrived at night and interrupted her sleep. But on the whole, her perimenopausal symptoms were more annoying than unbearable. Then her menstrual cycle spun out of control. “Suddenly, my menstrual flow was really heavy and lasted twice as long as before,” says Alison, who lives in Chicago and requested that her last name not be used. “My periods went on forever.” Her gynecologist suggested that Alison try hormone replacement therapy (HRT), prescription drugs used to control menopausal symptoms. “She told me not to rule it out if my symptoms were really bad, but my feeling was that I’d rather try to just get through them,” Alison says.

She had good reason for wanting to avoid HRT. The treatment regimen, which artificially elevates a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels, has come under intense scrutiny in recent years. Major studies have linked it to an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, strokes, and other life-threatening conditions.

Soon after Alison’s menstrual cycles became so irregular, she went to class at Yoga Circle, her regular studio, and learned an Iyengar asana sequence designed to help women cope with the physical discomforts related to their cycles. Many of the poses were restorative; they included Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose), Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose), and Janu Sirsasana (Head-of-the-Knee Pose) with the head supported. When Alison’s next menstrual period began, she practiced the sequence every day and noticed that her flow returned to normal. Encouraged by the results, she began to think that she could control her symptoms without HRT. Maybe, she thought, yoga could provide the relief she was looking for. And her intuition proved correct. Many women have found that yoga can ameliorate the undesirable side effects of menopause.

See also Yoga for Menopause: Alleviate Symptoms with Yoga

Yoga for Hormonal Imbalances

Though menopause itself is simply the moment that menstruation stops, the transition generally takes several years. This phase is called perimenopause and typically occurs in women between the ages of 45 and 55. During perimenopause, fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels can trigger a myriad of uncomfortable symptoms. Among the most common are hot flashes, anxiety and irritability, insomnia, fatigue, depression and mood swings, memory lapses, and an erratic menstrual cycle.

Few women experience all of these, but an estimated 55 to 65 percent of them do experience some mild menopause-related problems, says Rowan Chlebowski, MD, of the Harbor UCLA Research and Education Institute in Torrance, California. About 25 percent report almost no disruption to their daily lives, while approximately 10 to 20 percent suffer severe and often debilitating symptoms.

Hormonal fluctuations generally accompany women’s passages into each new biological stage of life; with them often come various discomforts, such as acne and mood swings at puberty, morning sickness during pregnancy, and postpartum depression. “Menopause is no exception,” says Nancy Lonsdorf, MD, author of A Woman’s Best Medicine for Menopause.

Before the onset of perimenopause, a woman’s menstrual cycle is set in motion each month by the hypothalamus, a small structure at the base of the brain that regulates many bodily functions, including appetite and temperature. The hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland to produce important hormones for reproduction, and those hormones in turn stimulate production of estrogen and progesterone in the ovaries. During perimenopause, the ovaries and pituitary gland engage in a kind of tug-of-war. The ovaries decrease hormone production, while the pituitary gland, sensing low hormone levels, continues to spur on the ovaries. This frenetic struggle causes erratic hormonal fluctuations—too much estrogen, which revs the body’s motors, followed by spikes of progesterone, which slows the body.

See also The Best Pose and Acupressure Point to Reduce Bloating

“Hormones are very powerful; they affect just about every tissue of the body,” Lonsdorf says. “So it’s no wonder that various conditions can arise as the body tries to adjust to these hormonal shifts. For instance, when the brain is affected by erratic hormone patterns, sleep, mood, and memory may all be influenced, and when the uterus is stimulated by sporadic hormone patterns, irregular bleeding occurs, and so on.”

Typically, a woman experiences the first signs of this hormonal fluctuation about six years before her menstrual periods end. These symptoms generally continue until a year or more after her last period, when the hormone levels gradually stabilize. After menopause, the ovaries produce less of the female hormones. However, the body still needs some estrogen to keep the bones healthy and to prevent conditions like vaginal dryness. The adrenal glands, which are located above the kidneys, play an important role in this by secreting low levels of male hormones that are converted by fat cells into estrogen. Still, the body must adjust to a new, much lower hormone level.

These natural physiological changes and the havoc they can wreak for many women prompted researchers in the late 1960s to seek a solution for common menopausal symptoms. The treatment they ultimately proposed was HRT. Their reasoning was that problems stemming from declining estrogen levels could simply be eliminated if the missing hormones were replaced. Scientists believed that maintaining hormone levels similar to what the body was used to would provide relief.

See also 12 Yoga Poses to Boost Breast Health

HRT was a simple solution for managing menopausal symptoms. But since several major studies have shown that HRT exposes women to serious health risks, many women have begun seeking more natural solutions. Those who have turned to yoga for relief have found that while asana may not directly influence estrogen production, specific postures can help control unpleasant symptoms. Restorative postures in particular can relax the nervous system and may improve the functioning of the endocrine system (especially the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, the thyroid, and the parathyroid gland), which helps the body adapt to hormonal fluctuations.

Walden says forward bends, such as Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), can help reduce irritability and mental tension.

Alleviating the Symptoms of Menopause

Yoga instructor Patricia Walden, 57, knows firsthand how yoga can help temper menopausal complaints. Like many other women’s symptoms, hers arrived like rain: first a sprinkle, then a full-fledged storm. Hot flashes came first, and then—for the next year—she suffered through constant fatigue and insomnia. She often awoke in the night and stayed awake for up to three hours.

On the days when Walden had intense symptoms, she found she needed to modify her yoga routine. She was accustomed to a vigorous daily practice but discovered that unsupported inversions, strenuous poses, and backbends sometimes made her symptoms worse. When that happened, she turned to supported and restorative poses to calm her nerves. She still did inversions, but instead of an unsupported Sirsasana (Headstand), which sometimes brought on more hot flashes, she would do Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) using bolsters or Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand) with a chair. With these modifications, Walden was able to reap the benefits of inversions—relief from anxiety and irritability—without challenging or heating her body.

As Walden’s symptoms diminished, her conviction that yoga could be a potent tool for easing the suffering that accompanies hormonal shifts deepened. She began to connect with other women who were experiencing similar difficulties and has since created specific yoga sequences for women with menopausal symptoms. “I was interested in women’s issues before,” says Walden, co-author with Linda Sparrowe of The Woman’s Book of Yoga and Health: A Lifelong Guide to Wellness. “But after having gone through menopause myself, I am much more sensitive to it.”f

See also Yoga for Women’s Health: The Best Type of Practice for Each Phase of Your Menstrual Cycle

A regular yoga practice can make a world of difference in a woman’s experience of menopause. And a solid practice before this phase can ease the transition, says Suza Francina, author of Yoga and the Wisdom of Menopause. “If you practice yoga before menopause, then all the poses that are especially useful for coping with uncomfortable symptoms are already familiar, and you can reach for them like an old friend,” she says. “If you are familiar with restorative poses, then you have the best menopause medicine at your disposal.”

Yoga Poses for Every Menopause Symptom

Here are descriptions of the most common symptoms and specific recommendations for taming them.

About the Author

Trisha Gura is a freelance science writer and yoga student in Boston. Find her trishagura.com.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2018 A Touch of Health