EPISODE 8- HEALING THROUGH BODY MOVEMENT
As we welcome the new year, we’ll continue hearing from our community partners. For this month’s episode, we talk with Deborah Grado, a local yoga instructor who provides gentle yoga sessions through our FRC to anyone in the community who is interested.
Throughout this episode, we discuss yoga and how it can benefit an individual’s journey to long-term recovery. We also talk about why yoga can be considered a non-traditional therapy and how it can boost your mental health.
YOGA & ITS MISCONCEPTIONS
In past episodes I’ve shared that my healing journey started in a cozy yoga studio. I had been invited to a “yoga birthday party” by one of my closest friends. I’ve never been a fan of exercise, but since it was her birthday, I went anyway, not really knowing what to expect and all the wonders I was about to encounter.
For many, when we think of yoga, the first thought that comes to mind is that yoga is a form of exercise. However, yoga can be much more-- it’s the connection between our body, mind and soul.
In yoga, I learned how to listen to my body’s needs, both physical and emotional. I still remember that first session like it was yesterday. I felt intimidated, I was not flexible or in good physical condition to do such a thing like a handstand. The session started and I was worried, I looked around to my friends and they were ready. I wasn’t. Ten minutes in and all of my worries melted away.
Throughout my conversation with Deb, we learn that one of the most common misconceptions of yoga is very similar to what I went through in my first session. Many of us think we must be experts in order to enjoy yoga. However, yoga can be modified to an individual’s needs and capabilities.
Deb suggests to not be intimidated and to ask for modifications when needed. There’s always something for someone. For example, during the first session, I was not strong enough to do certain positions. In my attempt to do those positions, I distracted myself from one of the most important elements in yoga -- breathing. I asked for modifications and my instructor was kind enough to guide me so I could bring awareness to my breathing. Flexibility can come as a positive consequence.
YOGA AS A NON-TRADITIONAL THERAPY
It now seems that yoga is everywhere you go. Personally, I’ve seen many people from my network show interest in yoga since the pandemic started. Why is yoga one of the most common non-traditional therapies? Why is yoga sought out by many and why has it become so popular in our Western Society?
Well according to Deb the answer is quite simple—many come with the expectation of a physical exercise. Most people start with the stretching and they end up staying because mentally and emotionally they feel better.
“Think about the body, mind connection. We are so much more than just our bodies and minds. Yoga has a way of getting you to understand both of them. You get to know your physical body by the movement, and you get to know your mental and emotional by what you feel through the movement and the breathing,” said Deb.
“You then combine the two and it creates a ripple effect that not only deals with the physical body, but you also have the energy body. Yoga has a way of understanding the energy in our body. At the end of the day, we all are energy, we are all atoms or molecules and those are energy,” she added.
Research shows that yoga can benefit our mental health. According to Deb, meditation can generate blood cells and hormones that are good for our health such as dopamine, an important chemical in our brain that creates feelings of pleasure and motivation.
Savasana is the meditation portion in yoga practice, usually toward the end of the session. When I started practicing meditation, I was very perplexed. I thought that meditation was the ability to quiet all thought.
After much practice and frustration, I learned that meditation is not the ability to have a thoughtless mind. On the contrary, during meditation you can bring awareness to your daily thoughts. As a society we are in a constant rush, we work, we go to school, we help the kids, etc. In a busy life, it can be difficult to genuinely listen to what is going through our mind. Savasana or mediation is a space where you can bring attention to those thoughts, process them and react with intention and mindfulness.
As I mentioned earlier, my healing journey started here—in a yoga session. Thanks to meditation, I listened to my constant worry and was able to address my needs.
Yoga can be a safe space and it can guide and support traditional therapy. We encourage you to take the opportunity to join a yoga session. There are many options that can meet your needs.
NEXT STEPS TOWARDS HEALING
We are excited to share our partnership with Deborah Grado and the impact that it can have for our participants and anyone in our beautiful community. If you are interested in enrolling in this program, please contact our office at (915) 775- 2783. Due to COVID-19, Deb hosts virtual yoga sessions every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30PM.
Tune in to learn more about yoga with Deb and all the amazing work she does in our region.