Yoga as a Path to Healing

3574333889_b485c46795_oIt amazes me all the ways there are for yoga to heal us.

My practice has shown me this again and again, from the time I first came to it, grappling with both infertility and a rough spot in my marriage, and on through the years as it taught me lessons in positive body image and gratitude and balance.

It came through for me again this past weekend, as I worked my way through grief at the death of my uncle.

I’ve already written about the ways in which loving my daughter has kept me afloat during this time. And it’s true. It’s nearly impossible to lose yourself in sadness when you have an 8-month-old daughter who lights up every time she sees you. How can I not answer her joy with my own?

But despite throwing myself into the act of mothering this past week, my grief still simmered beneath the surface for days. No amount of kitchen dance parties and baking binges and raspberries could change that. So on the morning of my uncle’s memorial viewing at a funeral home down the street from my parents’ house, I came to my yoga mat.

I worried I would cry during class, so I hid myself away in a back corner, near the crates full of blocks and blankets and straps, the bolsters leaning against the wall. But aside from a few errant tears during the opening minutes of breathing and centering and softening, my eyes remained dry. Instead, I poured my grief into my practice, finding a focus for it I hadn’t been able to find at home. I pushed myself deeper in my chaturangas. Deeper into my warriors. I floated up into my handstands, trembling toward a center of balance that usually proved elusive.

In the end, I found my practice was the better for this infusion of grief and intense emotion. It was stronger.

And my heart and my mind were the better for it, too.

How has yoga healed you? How does your state of mind affect your practice? Why do you come to your mat—every week, every day, even just this morning?


(photo via Flickr)


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