Ancient Practice, Timeless Healing
Sep 02, 2016 09:45PM
By Kelly Hume
The ancient practice of yoga originated in the East nearly 5,000 years ago. Yoga translates into to yoke, or to become one with. This is the space where body, mind and spirit merge. The healing gifts of yoga are realized as one integrates and harmonizes all aspects of one’s self.
Today, yoga has gained increased popularity in the U.S. It’s commonly practiced as a physical exercise, but there are other valuable components that must be practiced to truly experience the depth and scope of yogic healing. Asana, body postures, combined with pranayama, breath work and simple meditations are at the core of a well-rounded yoga practice. The effects of pranayama and meditation immensely benefit the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of human beings. Yoga’s tradition is comprised of many variations and interpretations, each with its own unique style, but at the core is the intention of evoking total well-being, relaxation and peace of mind.
Restorative yoga is one such variation and emphasizes the importance of mindful rest and relaxation. A class may utilize postures such as twists, backbends and seated forward folds. Focusing on using gentle postures typically held for longer intervals, it seeks to align the breath and body in stillness, providing balance and equanimity in body and mind. The body benefits greatly from holding postures for an extended period of time because it can fully unwind and release deeper, subtler layers of tension. When in a restful state, the body’s innate healing wisdom can be unearthed and circulated throughout the system to enhance total health and well-being.
Alana Bruggner, yoga instructor at Evo Rock Climbing Gym and The HUB, utilizes restorative techniques in her classes and offers props like bolsters and blocks for students to use for enhanced support and relaxation. She teaches that what is practiced on the mat can be transferred into daily life.
Bruggner says, “The importance of taking time to slow down and breathe is undervalued in our go-go-go society. The more often we allow our bodies to enter this slower pace, the more balanced and centered we feel during those fast-paced moments.” Yoga benefits everyone regardless of age, level of flexibility or endurance level. “Yoga is a healing art, so anyone can practice yoga anywhere and everywhere. By allowing ourselves time to restore in our yoga practice, we automatically reconnect back to the best versions of ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually.”
Colleen Donahoe, yoga instructor trained in the Sivananda tradition and co-founder of Wild Persimmon School of Wellness, incorporates Swami Visnudevananda’s five points of yoga into her classes offered at her school, and at Garfield Park’s Sunken Garden Mondays at 5:30 p.m. They are proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, proper diet and positive thinking (Vedanta) and meditation (Dhyana).
Donahoe says, “Prior to finding yoga I would periodically feel overwhelmed, sad, restless, and generally dissatisfied with my life for no apparent reason. The study and practice of yoga has helped me understand the nature of the mind and provided tools to harness this power in a positive and productive way. These ancient insights into proper breathing, relaxation and meditation have made it much easier for me to recognize and manage my symptoms of depression and anxiety.”
Megan Ziemer, an instructor at Body Mind & Core, Cityoga School of Yoga and Health and Breathing Space Yoga studios, has also transformed her personal health using yoga. Ziemer used yoga as a way to cope with disease. “By the time I was 20, I had 3.5 ft. of intestines, three-quarters of my colon, appendix and rectum removed from complications of Crohn’s disease. Since I was 8, I felt like a prisoner in my own body and mind until yoga. I just took my anger and buried it in my body. Yoga frees and heals me every day.”
She now dedicates herself to guiding and inspiring people on their own journeys towards wholeness. Ziemer says, “The physical yoga practice opens up parts of the body that have been closed off from stress, trauma and emotional pain. It heals the body by learning how to change thought patterns and habits with the power of one’s breath and meditation. You sit with your emotions and thoughts, realizing they are just fleeting, literally rewiring your entire brain. I honestly feel like I owe my life to the practice of yoga.”
Angelique Codarmaz practices Thai massage and leads restorative yoga classes Friday mornings at Blooming Life Yoga Studio & School. Codarmaz says, “I first came to yoga as a way to recover from chronic pain. As I built my personal practice over the last 22 years, I’ve realized I am called to share my experience to help others. The strength and fluidity I’ve found on my yoga mat isn’t just in my body; they have permeated my attitude and propelled my wish to bring these grace-filled, transformative practices to others. The slow and revitalizing nature of restorative yoga and Thai massage center our attention solely within our bodies. We connect to sensations that inform our brain of areas that need attention and healing. We then allow our breath time to create a pathway to connect our mind with our body in our spirit.”
Megan Ziemer, [email protected], APracticeInSelfLove.Tumblr.com. BodyMindAndCore.com, 1344 S. Rangeline Rd., Carmel. CitYoga.biz, 2422 Central Ave., Indianapolis. BreathingSpace.Yoga, 5026 E. 62nd St., Indianapolis.