I would like to continue this blog by sharing the effect of my yoga practice on my daily living. I have chosen this practice because it involves reaching peace of mind through the body. Of course there are many other daily practices that may be as effective.
The last couple of days have been challenging. The signs for potential high levels of stress in my mind and body were all there. I can’t say I wasn’t affected, but something felt different. Within the chaos of outside events, I felt a part of me remained surprisingly calm.
Today I felt my yoga practice take a positive turn. My body was more flexible and my mind calmer. Balancing was easier than usual. I observed thoughts that uncentred me and then shifted the focus back to my breathing and my body. Whenever my mind wandered, I felt myself leave my body and the present moment. When I brought myself “back” I enjoyed every move and stretch. I contacted the part of me which was unmovable by the outside world. Everything could wait, there was no rush.
In psychotherapy, much of our work involves working with the effects of trauma on the mind and body. This includes increasing an individual’s ability to regulate emotional responses, which impair their daily living. To put it simply, this process entails gaining insight about the origins of those feelings and linking them to present feelings and responses. It also entails learning how to manage those responses in the present, not just through understanding where they come from, but by gaining an awareness of body responses and learning how to change those. For instance, slowing down and changing one’s breathing pattern, or adopting a different posture. This can be an effective process when facilitated by a therapist with whom the individual has built a mutually trusting relationship in a safe environment.
Going back to yoga, the daily practice of paying attention to thoughts, breathing and body improves one’s ability to use the breath and posture in regulating unhelpful emotional responses. Whilst it does not on its own tackle the root cause of emotional and psychological distress, it is a helpful addition to therapeutic work.
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