man in inversion yoga pose with Iyengar chair and yoga bolster

The Soul of Yoga: Savasana

Every time I think, “Of course everyone can do yoga!” I have to stop and remind myself that no, actually, lots of people have never tried it, haven’t been to a class, or even had the slightest interest in it.

Unless you were raised by parents in Cirque du Soleil, you probably didn’t have an overwhelming urge to make headstand and handstand a goal in life.

But then at one point, maybe you have an injury, or chronic from repetitive stress movement, or insomnia, or some other event that makes you think you need a gentle change. In some ways, the body’s need can show the way to the brain’s (and mind’s) healing.

Four months ago my husband suffered from a hemorrhagic stroke, which I chronicled in a separate website. It was a devastating event, and though at the time I didn’t see what yoga might mean or do for him, yoga has turned out to be a wonderful way of aiding in his recovery. Stroke is a neurological event, and can effect movement, speech, memory, sensation–everything that helps us make our way in the world and store the imprint of who we are as individuals. Through breathwork (pranayama), poses (asana), and restorative holds, his cognitive and physical coordination has continued to improve in amazing ways. Remembering and following cues, engaging major muscles, and encouraging blood flow through all the major organs has strengthened the subtle body as well as the physical body, allowing the nervous system to re-set, and rest.

So as his teacher, the wonderful Meagan McCrary, has pointed out, this final stage of rest, where the body and mind find equilibrium and restoration, is the real purpose of yoga. Arm balances and fancy extensions are great if that’s what your body needs, but they are only some of many roads to real soul of yoga, the state of rest, meditation, and rejuvenation.

 

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