Gaza War To Restorative Yoga
By Eileen Fleming
Exclusive to The Arab Daily News
In Thursday’s email, Ray Hanania, the Managing Editor of The Arab Daily News wrote,
Yes, the Gaza war was one of the worst I’ve seen in my entire life covering the conflict…I am completely and totally overwhelmed with work and things to do all the time I never get a minute just to relax…
I replied, Yoga could help you relax!
I wrote Ray to check out HuffPost’s How Yoga Became A $27 Billion Industry — And Reinvented American Spirituality
The best money I have spent in the Yoga Industry was for a few private lessons with two extensively trained teachers who had years of experience teaching yoga and a dedicated practice of continuing education.
Bill Harper, the publisher of Yoga Journal, told The Coast News that the reason one in 10 Americans are yoga enthusiasts is due to peer pressure, celebrity pressure and various health benefits.
I began the practice of Yoga last October and quickly learned that what we practice in the West as Yoga is only one component of what was originally considered yoga by the ancients.
The physical practice of postures, or asana, is one of eight traditional limbs of yoga, as outlined in the foundational text of yoga philosophy, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, thought to be over 2,000 years old. These limbs present a sort of eightfold path to enlightenment, which includes turning inward, meditation, concentration and mindful breathing. The Sutras make no mention of any specific postures, but the original 15 yoga poses were later outlined in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, dated to the 15th century CE, making it one of the oldest surviving texts of hatha yoga, the yoga of physical exercises.
Traditionally, yoga was a private, personal practice that involved a sacred bond between the student and teacher (guru) using demonstration and oral transmission of imparting knowledge known as guru-shishya paramparya.
“In the West, there are streams where this authentic transmission from living masters to students still exists,” Viniyoga founder Gary Kraftsow said at the Omega Institute Being Yoga conference in 2011. “But there’s a lot of yoga that’s made up, modern stuff, with no understanding of depth and meaning of text.”
Today, yoga is promoted as the antidote to our Western speed of life and if practiced on a regular basis it has been shown to help free one from addictions, back pain, diabetes, slowing the aging process as well as boosting overall well-being and stress relief.
However, Yoga’s proven health benefits do not necessarily mean that every form of adaption of the practice is valuable or healthy for YOU-because yoga is about comfort in ease in movement and stillness-so if it hurts it is not yoga!
Philip Goldberg, a spiritual teacher and author of American Veda, told The Huffington Post, “The sudden boom of interest led to people wanting to fill the demand by getting more teachers trained, and studios discovering that they can make more money training yoga teachers than giving classes in some cases. The standards can get compromised along the way.”
The old Theosophical statement goes, “When the pupil is ready, the Master appears” and the Buddhist Proverb says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
Last October I stumbled into a local yoga studio after being told my MRI’s and x-ray’s confirmed endstage osteoarthritis in my shoulders and no cartilage in my knees.
I was told by medical experts that the only relief modern medicine could offer was drugs and joint replacements-but my gut/inner wisdom told me to say NO to total bilateral knee replacements in the midst of signing the release forms intuiting there was a better way for me to go; I just had to find it!
My first Yoga Teacher G, is a Yoga Alliance E-RYT 500 registered yoga teacher and a member of the National Association of Yoga Therapists.
Yogi G taught me how to breathe in yoga and in yoga everything is about the breath; and also somewhat contrary to how I had been taught to breathe during practice on a Pilates Reformer-which I began 7 years ago and continue on a weekly basis:
During a private session with Yogi G she recommended I try ginger as an anti- inflammatory.
I had been using prescribed anti-inflammatories for over twenty years and as many had been pulled from the market due to killing people-I began to drink 2-3 cups of Ginger Tea a day.
I have not taken any prescribed or over the counter medicine in 8 months and I feel 10 years younger now than I did last year at this time!
I also consume anti-inflammatory foods such as blueberries, sweet potatoes, olive oil, broccoli and salmon.
I also massage Sesame oil into my shoulders and knees before submerging in my back yard pool and ‘jogging’ for an hour suspended on a tether like a fish on a hook and with out impact on any joint.
Yogi J taught me that I am and will be a Wabi Sabi Yogi for the rest of my life.
Yogi T specializes in Therapeutic Alignment Yoga and she taught me Restorative Yoga poses I can do at home and Mountain Brook has become a daily ritual:
Several years later, I got my first yoga teaching gig and thought I’d take a stab at teaching restorative yoga.
I mean, how hard could it be, right? It’s just a few poses.
Humility set in when I realized that the people I was attracting through this practice were overworked athletes and hospice caregivers, cancer [survivors] and the newly diagnosed, people healing broken spines and people healing broken hearts.
But even more important, these people weren’t just sick trying to get better.
They were on the wellness train—working hard to to prevent further illness, balance the effects of chronic stress and optimize their potential as human beings.
These very wise students were giving this very ‘green’ yoga teacher a lot to learn about this practice.
With a ton of studying, training and many mistakes along the way, I now try my hardest to offer a nurturing, open space where people can practice resting…
They are courageous enough to get quiet and potentially uncover physical and emotional states that are often masked by overbooked schedules and never-ending checklists.
They are aware enough to know that they must take responsibility for their own healing if they expect to be well.
They are trusting enough to know the body can do amazing things when we get out of our own way and allow ourselves true rest…..
At last Wednesday’s yin class, Yogi G handed out paper and pens and had us list what gave us energy, depleted our energy and then to consider how to live divided no more!
Some things gave me energy, some just depleted me, but these things gave, depleted and also taught me how to live divided no more:
Reading the News and viewing painful images, researching, reflecting and then writing my heart out energizes me- until I finish my article or book chapter and only then do I realize how depleted my vocation/passion/work can leave me.
Through the latest war on Gaza I learned the dire need for me to FAST from the News and especially images of bloody children.
I also now begin my day with a few deep breaths while gazing at this little boy of Gaza and say a prayer for ALL children that they will be free to grow into their full potential as human beings.
In 2005, Eileen Fleming established WeAreWideAwake.org in response to her first of 8 trips to both sides of The Wall as a public service.
Eileen is the Administrator for FREE VANUNU and TNT/Telling Nuclear Truths
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