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What Does it Mean to Heal?

Heal the mind, body, and soul, yes, we’ve all heard that before. And if you’ve ever experienced heart ache, disease, or depression you know first-hand how impossible and nagging those words can sound. What do these words even mean? Is this a concept? Or could it be a process?

There is an absolute boat load of distractions today and every day. So much so that we pile pain on top of pain on top of disorder on top of dysfunction resulting in disorientation and confusion. Healing our internal wounds seems insurmountable in a world of endless contradictions. One might say, “How can I heal myself if the world is such a mess?” Even a daily yoga practice with spiritual intentions can be neatly stacked on top of the deep disillusionment that many yearn to unravel, leaving one relentlessly yearning.

And the truth is; healing is personal. Healing is slow and uncomfortable. Healing perpetually creates new steps to take, new roles to fill, new rules to follow; in a whirl-wind of self-care, protective measures, precautionary diets, exhausting exercises. Fortunately, and undoubtedly, no matter how daunting the issue may be, healing will above all push you to newer heights whether your responses realize it or not. Fabricated or strained, any slight recognition of needing to heal will set you on the path to living a more fulfilling life.

And this is the point, right? To live?

To live a FULFILLING life.

As I began to dip my pinky toe in the murky waters of my own existence, I have come to know that every human is a package of functional anomalies. How anyone is able to “hold it together” is absolutely and quite literally beyond me. Miraculous. And I myself am living the stigma of people thinking that I “have it together” and can tell you first hand that “having it together” is illusory; a subjective judgment. No individual knows the intricacies of the deck of cards that have been dealt to another. No one. Only you know how you feel and therefore only you can act consciously to heal yourself.

We have been taught so much dysfunction from the moment we were born, from family (or lack thereof), society, school, friends, loved ones, and have been expected to translate it into health and leadership. Success. Progress.

Are you kidding me?

Feeding into the external world without a solid internal foundation can be overwhelming and deadly. Society gives many options and expectations but only you can assess your needs; feel your true direction.

We are in critical times ALWAYS – and have always been! There is no mystery. There is no solution. “The end” is always near. Fear surrounding this is the ultimate external hang-up.

The only thing that existence needs from you is to truly be.

Science now shows what indigenous and traditional peoples have always known; that within us we carry the lives of our ancestors in our very DNA. So not only are we dealing with the child within us, the dysfunction of our upbringing and family life, but we also deal with the inherited damage that has traveled through space and time and now resides physiologically within us.

What?

Yeah, all the crappy feelings you have that bombard you from all sides and of which you never knew where, why, or how you felt this way; these are unseen forces, empathic resonances; basically, there is more to what you feel than what meets the eye. To accept this is the key, because there is no time to dwell on it.

Allow me to rephrase this; no longer are we burdened to deal with shortcomings or distress – we are graciously presented with the opportunity to complete the cycle, to conclude the damage, to evolve beyond survival and blossom into harmony; a thriving harmony that is so effortless, so genuine, so real.

This is what healing has to offer. It extends into the past and into the future. Lovingly addressing the suffering that humanity has perpetuated. Healing yourself first is necessary to healing the world. When the plane is going down, the clear instructions are to put your oxygen mask on first before trying to help anyone else. This is a strong reminder that until we heal ourselves, we cannot be expected to try to heal anyone or anything else.

I invite you to accept this responsibility. Within this vessel of a human body; these tissues, these issues, these differences, these grievances, there is only one truth. You are alive.

The healing potential is not solely limited to our own personal family timelines; there is no limit – this is EVERYTHING. Like mycelia of a forest, a network of communication is constantly buzzing and emanating from your every move. All of your thoughts and dreams and ideas are electric. Like a school of fish; a flock of birds – the entirety of existence is connected electrically. So, don’t be fooled to think that you can get away with plundering your own potential – you are infinitely connected, and eternally supported.

My heartfelt suggestion to every human is to meditate. Develop a daily practice and stick with it. Be responsible and compassionate to yourself which in turn extends to others. Your true-life potential lies within you.

Lay down the pipe, put down the drink, ditch the Prozac, skip the party and go within. Everyday spend time with yourself. Everyday!
I know it’s easy to get overwhelmed; Be patient.

Make the time to be responsible about the only thing you are responsible for: you. Taking care of yourself first is the most responsible thing you can do for anyone else, any animal, any forest- for the entire planet.

YOU are worth it.

With the teachings of those who have come before us, the sages, the gurus, our teachers, parents, grandparents, community leaders, the internet and any transfer of knowledge, we have the miracle of understanding. We have the human miracle of listening. We have the knowledge to know that we put one foot in front of the other. We know that the answers are not external, however the guidelines given to us are very useful. You are not alone. We all must begin from with-in. Every individual must Begin.

Begin to be aware.
Breathe.
Be.

A few links to help you on your journey:
https://www.wopg.org/

https://www.chakraboosters.com/

https://www.medicalmedium.com/

https://www.louisehay.com

https://www.drmorsesherbalhealthclub.com/

And in the wise words of Jimi Hendrix:

“There’s too much confusion
I can’t get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line
Know what any of it is worth.”
“No reason to get excited,”
The thief, he kindly spoke.
“There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we’ve been through that
And this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now
The hour’s getting late.”

 

 

 

Abigail Tirabassi is a star-gazing artist, surfer, traveler, philosopher, drawn to elevating the human vibration through her own healing; St.Pete, FL/Pavones, CR. IG: @scrammby

Finding Salvation in the Storm

The following is the story of my journey from a life plagued by burnout, addiction, depression and anxiety into a life of self-healing and finding salvation through yoga and a plant based diet.

I moved to Oakland to attend a graduate school program that would prepare me to be a public school teacher in urban communities. I was very intentional about the route I took into teaching. I choose a program that would provide me with a year of supervised student teaching and one that explicitly included courses on the profession of teaching and how issues of race and inequality impacted teaching and learning. I was a bright eyed young teacher and believed that with the proper training I would be prepared to work in some of the harshest conditions in the country. I wanted to teach because I wanted to create a narrative in my classroom that countered the narrative the larger society had about the students I worked with. I believed deeply in the importance of the work I was doing and I was committed to doing all I could to best serve my students. All the training in the world never be enough to prepare me for the conditions I would encounter as a teacher. Because I was young and didn’t yet know myself, I did not have the tools to deal with the emotional stress and trauma of the job.

In some respects, I had a lot of success as a teacher. I took on extra roles outside the classroom. I was creative with my curriculum, and I had strong relationships with my students. I was often described as passionate, dedicated and caring. Early in my career I had a colleague pull me aside to tell me that I needed to protect my passion because it would lead to my burn out. I remember feeling resentment at that statement as I felt like my passion set me apart from other more experienced teachers who appeared to me as more withdrawn from their work and therefore not as effective.

In my first year teaching one of my advisees was shot and killed. My room became the place where students came to mourn. I was tasked with holding space for her friends who were grieving her loss. The classroom does not exist in isolation from the community it serves. I became immersed in the constant trauma, violence and loss experienced by the students who graced my classroom. I continued to take on extra roles outside the classroom and seek ways to ease the pain of my students, all the while ignoring my own. I felt like the harder I worked the more I could do to help my students. I could not have been more wrong.

Numbing my emotions with work, alcohol and unhealthy relationships became my way of coping. I also developed an Adderall addiction, as I was fueled by the idea that the more productive I was the more valuable I was as a teacher. I was taking high doses of Adderall every day and using alcohol and marijuana to fall asleep at night. I was completely neglecting my physical, emotional and spiritual needs all under the façade that my work was more important than me.

I was on a one-way track to a breakdown, which thankfully came. I landed in a psychologist’s office reading me the results of my psychological evaluation. I was suffering from severe burnout, depression and anxiety as well as a substance abuse issue. The psychologist was ready to prescribe psych meds on the spot. At this point I had moved home and began practicing yoga twice a day. I had also begun to change my diet, and stopped taking Adderall all together. After my experience with Adderall the last thing I wanted was more pills. I told the doctor that I wanted to see if I could use yoga and diet to manage my mental and emotional health.

Two years later I am free of all substances and am more happy and connected to my passions and purpose than ever. I have been able to create a life for myself where my health and happiness are at the forefront. I traveled to Costa Rica to become a certified yoga instructor and currently teach regular yoga classes at a local studio here in Baltimore, Maryland. I am currently enrolled in a holistic health-coaching program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and am excited about expanding my capacity to support other peoples wellness journey through coaching. I have also been trained to teach yoga to people in recovery through Y12SR’s training. I have established a strong support group of people supporting me on this new journey. I am proud to say I am currently managing my addiction, depression and anxiety with yoga and a holistic lifestyle.

There was a moment of darkness when I could not imagine how I would ever move forward. My entire identity was wrapped up in my teaching career and my students. I had completely run myself into the ground. But I am here to tell you that there is another way to live, and that sometimes our biggest obstacles are actually here to direct us towards a life beyond our wildest imagination. You can find salvation in the storm. Yoga, a plant based diet and holistic self-care practices have saved me from a life of addiction, burn out, depression and anxiety. I am proud of my transformation.

At the end of each yoga class I teach, after savasana, I invite students to roll onto one side into a fetal position. I remind students that fetal position is a posture that symbolizes renewal and rebirth and is a reminder to us that every day, every practice, every breath is a chance to begin again. What will you do with yours?

 

Maya Semans is a former inner city high school English teacher turned yoga instructor and holistic health coach on a mission to share the power of yoga and wellness with women and communities impacted by burn out, addiction, and trauma. Located in Baltimore, Maryland.

Connect with Maya on IG: @ana_may_a

 

Maya participated in our Mentorship Program with Mary Tilson. Receive a consultation with Mary when you sign up for the Yoga Trade PLUS membership.

LEARN MORE:

Yoga Trade PLUS

Why to Get Yin With It

All right, I feel you sister (or brother); you don’t want to slow down. I, too, have heard that sweet little voice that can transform into a booming drill seargant, “Run faster, bitch.” You immediately build walls at the suggestion of taking a rest day or offer that your mind cannot focus in even momentary meditation. Moving slowly for an hour? Pshhhh, not a chance. Filling your precious workout time with a Yin yoga class is the road less traveled… that you would rather leave untraveled.

While the benefits of a sweat crunching, power-style yoga classes are endless, all exercise and no recovery is a recipe for injury and breakdown. Moving through a class where there is no goal of sweating or strengthening allows your body and mind to practice releasing, or in yogi speak, letting go.

So what exactly is Yin yoga? In Chinese cosmology, the yin-yang theory describes how everything has a dual aspect. While yin and yang seem to be opposing forces, they IMG_3967complement and interact with each other to form continuous balance. One can see the polarities by simply looking into his or her life and surroundings, such as hot and cold, day and night, and feminine and masculine.

While our yang practice stimulates and encourages our dynamic vinyasa practice or even activities like running, Yin yoga is a practice that focuses more so on the connective tissues of the body, such as the ligaments, tendons, fascia and bones. These systems in our body respond best to slow, steady load, and in return, they will begin to relax and release when given the time to do so.

While connective tissue can be found in each bone, muscle and organ, it is most concentrated at the joints. By not utilizing the full range of joint flexibility, the connective tissues will, over time, shorten to the minimal need required of the body’s activities. Gently moving into a pose and holding it for what may seem as an eternity, a yin practice can help to rebuild and restore a normal range of movement.

Yin yoga is often accompanied with props, such as blocks, blankets and bolsters. By practicing at a slower pace and only moving through a handful of postures, the class will often be a sequence of poses that open the chest for breath work and dive deeply into the hips.

Now that we have discussed the benefits of Yin yoga to your super-hot, yoga body, how else can practicing slowly quickly help your yoga practice? Let’s roll out your head and heart. Through reading this article, perhaps you have either uploaded a picture to instagram (and labeled it #yogaeverydamnday), asked the dog to be quiet, checked your facebook notications, glanced at a text message, felt stressed in determining how to respond to said text message, thought that you should do the dishes, realized you left the dish soap in the car with other groceries, wondered if a yoga studio near you offers Yin yoga and started to plan your next meal.

Hopefully you didn’t engage in all of them.

It isn’t surprising that most people are resistant to incorporating rest. The culture that we live in rewards those who hold workaholic, stressed-out, type-A behaviors. Scant value is placed upon recovery until tendonitis creeps in, joints uncontrollably pop, debilitating pain radiates from one’s lower back and we are so frazzled and bombarded by our own lives, that we have catastrophic freak-outs.

If you are consistently choosing recreation that mimics a jam-packed life, the body will break itself down.

Being softer, slower and more mindful, a Yin yoga practice will encourage an opening IMG_5733within the energetic pathways of the body and mind. Through moving stagnant energy, vitality within the body will blossom: organ function improves, immunity levels rise and emotional well-being is renewed. It is about turning inward and growing a peaceful awareness within oneself. This intimate practice requires preparation for a heart-to-heart with sensations and emotions, a discussion usually avoided by most.

From an outside perspective, Yin yoga may appear to be seen as lounging in comfy poses on one’s mat. Being still breeds ground for a straying mind, and it takes practice to deliberately stay with the rough or unsettling emotions and thoughts that may surface. Mindfulness is like a muscle; it must be exercised, and it needs practice.

Yin yoga offers the space to develop the skills needed to stay with and process those dark areas within. As I have been working through a physical imbalance within my body, embracing Yin yoga has started to grow greater attention towards my body’s abilities and signals.

For you to-do list makers and task-oriented folk, here are ten benefits of Yin yoga:

* Restores balance in the nervous system

* Regulates and improves energy vitality within the body

* By lubricating the joints and increasing synovial fluid, greater flexibility and mobility is inspired

* Opens up the fascia within the body

* Helps to balance hormones

* Encourages good posture by stimulating the entire spine

* Releases tension in the lumbar spine (low back)

* Massages and tones the bowels, aiding in improved digestion

* Offers a deepened state of relaxation

* Complements and enhances a yang practice (vinyasa, bikram, etc.)

This mini-list is only a taste of what a delicious Yin yoga practice can begin to produce. Take time to settle in stillness, reach your mental edge and listen to what your body, heart and mind are trying to tell you. Just as the day bleeds into the night, and the moon lingers in the morning sky, Yin yoga will shine light onto those dark, untraveled pathways.

 

morningyogapic

 

Patty Blake is cycling, mountain climbing, animal loving and plant crunching VEGAN! She is registered Yoga Instructor, licensed Massage Therapist, certified Reiki Practitioner who loves to laugh and smash goals. www.thepattymelt.com