WHAT DOES YOGA REALLY MEAN?
Yoga means the union of opposites and the word incorporates the concept of balance. Yoga practice helps us to access clarity as well as build the strength to endure that clarity, the strength to bear the truth about our past and present realities. The purpose of yoga is to relieve suffering. The purpose of suffering is to wake us up and motivate us to search for love and peace.
a) Asana, the practice of yoga poses or postures, alleviates physical suffering by aligning the skeleton and toning and strengthening the muscles and the organs. The body often manifests physical symptoms, including knots of trauma, which the asanas are designed to melt away. The practice of the asanas bathes the brain with serotonin, a chemical that is depleted by trauma and stress. These calming body based practices allow the opiate receptors to feel the milk of human kindness; the self knows that he/she is connected to the whole, that she/he is complete.
b) Pranayama, a system of breathing practices, calms the brain and the central nervous system, introducing and sustaining feelings of peace and contentment (which can be elusive to those suffering from depression, anxiety, and trauma disorders.)
c) The yamas (abstinences) and niyamas (observances) give us a moral framework that is similar to, if not the origin of, all of the spiritual traditions on the planet. They can be considered a guide for building personal character and for living in harmony with ourselves and others. Trauma is morally disorienting. The self was violated and hurt. Trust was broken. Faith in humanity was destroyed or compromised. The yamas and niyamas reorient the lost self, providing a moral compass that can guide the self to a safe and stable home for the heart. The observances and abstinences provide a social map for safely navigating human behavior, desires, and foibles. By following these principles and practicing these precepts, the self can stop recreating the trauma.
d) The meditation practices, pratayahara, darana, dhyana, and samadi, are the other four limbs of yoga.
e) Together these eight limbs make up the tradition known as Raja Yoga. The goal of yoga is to support clear perception, build the strength to bear what we know and see as well as compassion towards self and others. These yoga practices burn away the negative patterns that have developed as the result of trauma, grief, and loss in our lives. Trauma is held in the body and keeps us fearful. The practice of yoga brings us back to our original state of freedom and innocence without fear. These claims that yoga can naturally heal physical and emotional trauma are now being supported by medicine and science.
Regina’s yoga classes focus on the physical practice of the asanas, incorporating basic pranayama into the flow of vinyasa or series of poses. Each class emphasizes one of the myriad practices of yoga, which support and enhance mental stamina and emotional well-being.