Laurie Thompson has practiced yoga for almost 20 years. She received her certification to teach yoga from the Yoga Institute in Mumbai, India and has been teaching classes in Oaxaca Mexico since 2006.
The Power of Yoga | Laurie Thompson
Sitting on the floor, with legs extended, stretch the toes, extending the stretch to the heels. Now gently bend forward, tilting the pelvis, keeping the spine straight and relaxed. Allow the shoulders to relax, sliding down away from the ears. Close the eyes and allow the chin to relax towards the chest. Inhale and raise the arms, stretching over the head. Interlace the fingers, pressing palms up to the ceiling. Exhale, reaching the arms and hands to the feet. Inhale...exhale...inhale...exhale. Relax.
It took me almost 15 years to reach my toes and then it only came when I understood this posture was a humility pose. The physical health benefits include abdominal toning, kidney massage, improvement of circulation around the spine, and improved digestion. The longer you stay in the pose, the more effective are the benefits: the mind rests and refreshes. The heart, now under the spine and fully protected, is massaged. For a posture that accomplishes so much, I feel compelled to relax in humility.
The earliest depictions of a human figure in a common yoga meditation pose date back 5000 years to the mid 3rd millennium BC, in the Indus Valley region of India. Yoga translated from Sanskrit means "union" or "connection" and refers to a set of ancient physical, spiritual and mental practices intended to attain peace. While the philosophical aspect of yoga continues to be studied and practiced, it is Hatha Yoga (the full body postures) that emerged at the turn of the first millennium that has become widespread.
Each yoga posture (referred to as asana) addresses the body, the mind, and the spirit. Yoga postures practiced with deep breathing quiet the mind, and for some, will provide a moment of peace and well-being. For others it will mean the freedom and joy of being completely in the present. For myself and many others, yoga is the pathway to true essence, the connector to what some call the "all-ness" of life.
The West was introduced to yoga in the late 19th century, yet it is only since the mid 1980s that yoga spread widely throughout the United Sates. Its popularity continues to increase. Globally more than 300 million people practice yoga regularly. Why is it that in the second millennia yoga attracts the interest and dedication of so many?
Modern life. It has taken us away from integrated living. Far from the life-sustaining sources of water and food, the majority of people experience degrees of fractured living in urban centers. Psychic and spiritual fractures are increasingly commonplace, and are expressed in broken relationships between people and between groups of people as well as the relationship we have with our self. We experience these fractures in numerous disorders and diseases.
Yoga offers us a way to help heal these fractures that many of us lack a vocabulary to express. People are seeking an opportunity to realign and reconnect, to reduce suffering, disconnection and disembodiment of mind, body or spirit. Yoga offers some relief to the growing desire to heal and be well….to explore and integrate all of the layers--or "koshas" as they are called in Sanskirt--surrounding our true essence.
Understanding that disease is often an expression of energetic misalignment, addressing that realignment through yoga provides a powerful and proven healing strategy. Where certain modern treatments of healing have failed or fallen short, yoga is providing remarkable relief. Today in the U.S., yoga is promoted by the Veteran's Administration for treatment of soldiers with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. It is being used successfully around the world in hospitals and clinics to complement modern medical treatments for heart disease, obesity, tension, allergies, chronic pain, immunity disorders, mental retardation, asthma, gastritis, arthritis, and more. People are healing in lasting and profound ways through yoga.
Yoga helps us to feel good in our bodies; it calms our minds, making us feel peaceful and happy. We feel relaxed and content.