I have spent the better part of the last 15 years learning about yoga, mindfulness, nutrition, and movement and their connections to our mind and body. Today I watched three different documentaries that all lead to the same conclusion that I have over these years. Our minds can help to heal our bodies and our bodies can help to heal our minds!
It is an amazing journey and one that takes a bit of effort to buy into. Recently, I have heard several stories about the benefits of yoga, gentle movement (like walking), meditation and a whole foods diet can have a profound effect on one’s mindset and physical health. IT IS TRULY AMAZING!
I had a student walk into a yoga class a few months ago. She filled out her form and I scanned it quickly for injuries and health conditions that might require modifications in her practice. Luckily, she had walked into my foundations class, where I teach foundational techniques for newcomers. We modify, we talk, and we work through poses. I make yoga work for you no matter your fitness level or age. Anyway, after quickly scanning and seeing nothing out of the ordinary, I welcomed her to class. She placed herself in the front of the room so she could see me. She carefully and mindfully followed my cues, asked questions to make poses work for her and seemed to genuinely enjoy her first yoga experience!
Later that evening, as I sat down to add her to my email list and send her a thank you note, I read the entire registration form. She had recently lost her spouse, who was also her best friend. She had been struggling with anxiety and depression and felt the full force effects of grief, as no one would understand unless you are the one dealing with it. Each of us manifests and responds to grief in different ways. As family or friends of those grieving, all we can do is say “I am here.” There are no other words.
I sat down to send the thank you email with tears in my eyes. Still in the throws of dealing with my own grief over the loss of my grandson (it has been 2 years today since we lost him), I too had spent much of that day in or close to tears. I needed to find a way to help her manage her grief. I asked her to join me for a 30-minute private session so that I could give her a sequence that addressed grief directly. She welcomed the opportunity and we scheduled to meet the following Monday.
When she came in, she looked different than the first time she visited the studio. She looked happier. As we settled in to go through the practice I had set up for her, she told me “I came in to class one person last week, and I left another. I felt lighter somehow…happier. Yoga changed me in a way I can’t explain.” I was so touched by her honesty and her willingness to open up to the practice of yoga. She tells all of her friends about the transformation! She has also made some other lifestyle changes that have led her down the path to take better care of herself in many ways outside of yoga. This is an example of how the body can help the mind.
My personal journey with yoga has led me down a variety of paths. Most recently working with people on understanding the mind and body connection to healing grief and other mental and physical traumas. The truth is, the way we treat our bodies’ affect how we deal with grief, trauma, stress, depression and any other related illness.