When I was first introduced to yoga, I was 20 years old, struggling with and eating disorder and confused about who I was. Let’s just say a very different person is writing this blog today. I tried yoga to balance all the excessive running I was doing. At first, I could only make it through 25 minutes of a 60-minute class, before restlessness and anxiety forced me to stop. The movements were slow and long. The instructor also taught on the breath which I could not do, nor did it make sense to me at that time.
What nagged me intensely was I realized how disconnected I was from my body. I thought, why did this practice shake me up so much? Why was I so frustrated with my body doing this? At some point, I even decided never to practice yoga again. Fast forward to the present time, I am 37 years old, radiant, heathy and deeply connected to my spirit and source.
Yoga brought me things I needed to look at and learn from. God was whispering in my ear, “Raechel feel and listen there is something here you need to look at.” Well, most of my life I didn’t, I just turned up the volume and busyness.
My body had a different plan. It wanted to heal and be heard. The process felt like my body was a separate entity which I had no choice in but to explore it. Maybe it was God or the universe creating symmetry or balance. For this I am eternally grateful.
Over time, I felt safe with longer classes, hiding in the back so no one would notice me. Over time, my yoga practice slowed down, mindful of each micro-movement and feeling all these different sensations in my body. I stayed a while in forms. I allowed my body to settle in to the point where I was no longer doing, but being the forms. For you readers, I am sure this process happened much quicker but for me, it took 10 years for me to experience the practice as “being” over “doing.” To feel yoga in my body as a deep, compassionate, connection to myself. Over the years, this practice has allowed me to glean an in-depth understanding into the way my own mind and body works, and instead of frantically trying to escape or change it – to sit with, appreciate, and respect it for what it is.
After, now teaching yoga myself for 14 years, I reflect on the 30 years of wisdom by Judith Hanson Lasater, who was quoted as describing "the most important work of a yoga teacher is to transform her class into a ‘sacred circle, a safe place for the personal exploration of one’s body, emotions and mind." This has been what has grounded me as a yoga teacher. This is my intent to the world and now to my trainees today. For within the external imperfections there lies a potential that is in all of us for transformation and bringing a difference into the world.
I want to train effective teachers that can refine their offerings and adjust what they do through the lens of their own experience, without shame and, hopefully, with the kind of transparency and compassion that invites us all to be who we are without imposition.
We teach the concept of pratyahara, or pulling back from external senses and sounds to connect to one’s soul. To draw every moment from our worth which can bring such an internal peace.
What I have learned and integrated into my teaching and training is the experience living in a body with emotional, mental, and/or physical pain can cause human to confront some of our deepest fears. By being in your body with mindful moments, you can become less helpless and stronger in your body. Yoga, if taught in an empowering way can give you choices on what to do with your body. Your body is the home of your subconscious and most of the time knows what you need. This confidence in choice, leads us to begin to ask the questions that mean the most: Who am I? What is my purpose? What do I believe in about the nature of life? How can I live in my light and strength? And THEN life is radiant, abundant, and whole.
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About the Author:
Raechel Morrow, founder of Grand Rapids Healing Yoga, holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, is a certified Yoga Therapist, Holistic Health Care Practitioner and certified in Trauma Sensitive Yoga through The Trauma Center at JRI. She works with victims of domestic and sexual violence. She offers private yoga therapy and group yoga classes. She uses the tools of somatic experiencing in connecting the body along with licensed therapist in treating eating disorders and body image issues, depression, anxiety and trauma. She offers routine training's in trauma informed practices and private yoga therapy. For more information on private sessions or group classes please visit www.grhealingyoga.com