Yoga as Medicine

In yoga, asana is the practice that moves and holds the body in specific positions with the purpose being to balance and purify.  In its original form, yoga was a practice for enlightenment.  In our culture most people I know approach yoga under a different motivation.  If they are taken by the practice, they share there is a sort of enlightening that occurs as the magic of yoga enables one to free up the various levels of the body, mind, emotions and spirit.   In this way, not only does the body become tone and the mind become more calm, but there is an expansion that occurs in the sense of self.  All the sudden “I” means more than my personality, my problems, my gifts, etc.  

Along the way of our yoga journey we begin to discover moving the body in certain positions changes the electrical current throughout the body.  As well, it changes the blood flow through our tissues and stretches and calms our nerves.  These changes are similar to how acupuncture, reiki, massage, chiropractic and other wellness modalities influence our bio-psycho–physio-energetic bodies.  Discovering what poses have what effect on your body is part of the transformation that occurs in yoga when the mind turns in on itself through the alignment of the body.  As you can imagine, having a good teacher to help you along the way is key in developing a true yoga practice, and not just a fitness practice.

Below is one position shared by 5 Lights teacher Melissa on Viparita Karani – “inverted in action” – and how it can be used as medicine.

High/low blood pressure? Insomnia? Low back pain? Anxiety? Headaches? Compromised immune system? Chronic stress? Healing an injury? Low energy? Chronic pain? If you said yes to any one of these ailments then Viparita Karani (pronounced Vee-pa-ree-ta Kah-ron-ee) is for you.

This pose translates from Sanskrit as “inverted in action”. Meaning, in a physically passive way you are quite actively creating powerful shifts in your being by changing the typical flow of energy. Inversion postures that take you upside down have the power to boost the body’s ability to adapt. As you probably know through your own experience, this world can be an intense place. We are constantly being exposed to other people, energies, messages, and circumstances that create a response within us. For better or for worse. While our thoughts and energy can shift rather quickly, our physical body has a deeper process for integrating and releasing information. Through yoga, we can bring our attention and intention back to the body to enhance this process. 

Viparita Karani in particular, helps the body in so many beautiful ways. When being supported by the wall (as shown in the picture), this posture has such profound benefits because it helps the body to replace effort with ease. When we allow ourselves to rest with awareness and support, we are clearing our systems, cleansing the body, and improving our energy flow. Healing from the inside out. #thanksyoga

Taking 5 to 10 minutes a day to rest with your feet up is like creating an energetic drain to release whatever happened that day or within this lifetime and bring you back to your center. Try this posture while listening to a guided meditation, audio book, or simply rest with your breath and know the benefits are great. Remember, self-care is never a waste time.