Yoga for Emotional Healing
July 7th, 2011
yoga teacher trainingBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Like so many other things, emotional health is typically only considered when it has reached a point where it is out of balance. For such a modern culture, we are still largely negligent, with regard to emotional health and well being. Many of us are only willing to pay attention to our emotions when they have turned into a serious problem.
Thankfully, modern society is growing tired of the way things have been for thousands of years, and people are taking a greater personal role in their own health and well being. We do not seek information about proper emotional health because of the prevalent belief that emotional problems are a sign of weakness within our mind.
The need for emotional healing can manifest itself as something large, such as an emotional breakdown or crisis, or something as small and unassuming as an underlying sense of unease or dread. When the symptoms are mild, we tend to throw ourselves into distraction. These cycles of distraction keep our attention diverted elsewhere for a while, but the emotional turmoil is not gone; it is often only masked temporarily. This is how a small emotional disturbance can morph into an all-out crisis.
Many addictions stem from the desire to escape from this undercurrent of pain and suffering. The sad irony is that, the addictions themselves are an endless cycle. Not all addictions are chemically based. Behavioral addictions include excessive television viewing as a method of escaping reality, excessive eating, sex, gambling, and even excessive shopping.
Look for any areas of excess in your life, if you wish to know the true state of your emotional health. Observe, but do not judge. If there is an area of excess, perhaps you are seeking distraction and comfort. For what it is worth, addiction is a normal reaction to an emotional state that is out of balance.
The daily practice, of Yoga, provides emotional healing and support for a variety of reasons. In Yogic philosophy, it is believed that the ego is a major player in creating emotional disturbances, because it draws all conscious attention into itself. During a daily Yoga session, the conscious attention is diverted from the ego, and in those moments, true emotion may be felt. Turning the conscious attention toward one’s true emotions is very healing – in and of itself. Very often, an objective look at reality is all that is needed to promote an internal and lasting change.
For some individuals, who can no longer feel their emotions, the emotional energy may still be felt through the physical body. This seems to be an issue for people, who have survived great emotional turmoil and distressing situations, because the emotions were disconnected in order to survive.
These extremely rational individuals still have their feelings, but the emotions have been buried alive, somewhere deep within the mind. For these people, counseling is strongly recommended on the path of recovery. Yoga is a wonderful method of self-healing; but in some cases, it may be practiced as an adjunct therapy with a variety of counseling and healing methods.
In Yoga therapy, it is believed that when an individual moves through the asanas, with a fluttering of the stomach or tension in the muscles, like a coil ready to snap – this is a physical indication of underlying stress. The conscious mind then becomes aware of the emotion, and the focus may be turned toward this feeling. It may then be accepted as part of all that is; and this releases the emotion from the system. The moment that buried emotional baggage comes into conscious awareness, it will begin to disappear in significance, which brings the conscious state of mind into balance.
The true purpose of Yoga for emotional healing is not only the release of negative emotions, but also the heightening of the conscious state of mind. In this sense, all suffering carries within itself the seeds of happiness.