Yoga's healing potential is probably limitless. Why? It is not just a bodily practice. It's effects reach into the mind, emotions, energy, and spirit. Yoga helps us find greater balance between all aspects of ourselves as complex human beings existing in an even more complex world. Here are three stories of real people who found healing in yoga. We kept their names anonymous to honor the courage it took to be so publicly vulnerable with their experience. We want to thank our contributors for sharing and helping us to educate others about the healing potential of yoga.
"Yoga helped me find my way back to my body again after my post-abortion dissociation."
I was engaged once. He was sort of like a tornado, and so was our relationship I guess. His power was both intoxicating and destructive. After chatting online for about 8 months, we met and moved in together all in a weekend. After two months, I became pregnant and shamefully showed the positive test to my fiance in the parking lot of a Wegmans. We led a traveling lifestyle, so I was removed from my family, my friends, my work, everything I knew. He was all I had and he told me that if I kept the child, he would leave me. I never wanted children, but also never knew what I would do if I got pregnant. I decided to go ahead with the abortion.
Throughout the entire experience, I felt this was a test of my character and I failed. But even so, it was surprisingly easy to go through with. In the waiting room of the clinic, I felt giddy being there with my fiance, having some kind of sick togetherness experience in all of this. As I was examined by the doctor and handed the pill, I felt almost like I was on auto-pilot, mechanically performing the motions without much going on in my mind.
After the abortion was over, I bled for about a month. But I didn't feel like my body was my own anymore. I felt like I was outside of it and everything that happened to it wasn't really happening to me. At first, I thought this was a positive spiritual kind of experience, but as it persisted I began to wonder if I would ever feel at home in my body again.
It was years later that I eventually released this trauma by returning to my asana practice and pushing through the hurt of being present with the storm the abortion and that relationship left behind in my womb. Womb clearing has become huge for me since then. So much of our past lives in there, and it extends beyond even this lifetime. Before coming back to yoga, my sex life was being infiltrated by this dissociation. I was unable to enjoy healthy intimacy and it affected all of my romantic relationships. Now, I am in the midst of a celibacy phase before I decide to open my womb space to a new lover. If it wasn't for yoga, I don't even want to imagine what kind of sexcapades I'd be winning gold medals in today.
"I had a pretty f*cked up home life as a kid. People were always fighting, some days it felt like I lived on a battle ground and I had to learn to be vicious to survive."
My dad just walked out on us one day when I was 16 and my mom fell deep into addiction after that. I always felt like he blamed me for his choice to leave. Once I became sexually active, he lost his love for me because I was no longer his little girl. Needless to say, I was a pretty angry teenager. I felt disadvantaged: my family lived off of welfare, my mom and sister were both addicted, my brother was sick, and life felt overwhelming and unfair. I struggled a lot in school because of all the stress I had to deal with at home. I didn't feel that I had a sanctuary anywhere. Then, I started a home practice of simple stretches and breathing exercises. I would come home from school, smoke a bowl, practice and journal. This was my self-prescribed medicine. It got me through a lot of nightmarish days. It also helped me realize early on that we can control our consciousness to an extent. We don't have to be victims. We can use our pain to empower our motivation to be better. As a teenager, this was a lifeline for me. I'm grateful that my greatest addiction has been only to marijuana, and to whoever gave me that deck of yoga cards that introduced me to these practices.
"The doctors told me physical therapy would help but some of the effects would be permanent and I would have limited mobility for the rest of my life."
When I was 53, I had a stroke that effected my mobility on most of the right side of my body. The doctors told me physical therapy would help but some of the effects would be permanent and I would have limited mobility for the rest of my life. I had heard about yoga's growing therapeutic applications and decided to try chair yoga. After years of believing I couldn't do yoga, I was surprised at how easy it was -- even for me after having a stroke in my mid-fifties! The mindfulness is really what got me hooked. I felt that I was communicating with my body in a way that I never had before. I would make requests and it would respond! I practiced chair yoga twice a week for about one year and saw remarkable improvements in my mobility. I fell in love with Iyengar yoga and continued to practice at the studio for about two years. Then, about four years after my stroke, I attended my 200-hour yoga teacher training and was practicing alongside 20 year olds! The mindfulness and alignment based approach to yoga has really changed my life! Combined with physical therapy, it definitely contributed to the mobility I have today.
Our yoga teacher training course is focused on introducing you to yoga as a complementary healing practice. We also incorporate Reiki, sound healing, and yoga psychology into our course curriculum to send you off with a well-rounded and refined toolbox of self-healing practices. Learn more about our 200-hour training here.