Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Benefits of Yoga: Meditation, Relaxation and Reflection

The past two months have been extremely busy and filled with various stressors. In this short span of time; I left my very successful, high paying job and packed up my apartment and moved myself and two cats over 1400 miles from Boston, MA. Moving away from the familiar and easy path was no doubt difficult, but worth my peace, sanity and creating my life's mission: Natural Healing.

Getting adjusted to this major transition has been trying and I sought refuge in a local yoga class at the local adult center. What I did not expect was to walk away completely enriched, nourished and revitalized. My muscles were stretched; but so was my perspective. Typically known for being positive and super enthusiastic- I had lost that sparkle and needed something to set me on the right path.

There are many types of yoga: from the ever popular Bikram and Kundalini to styles like Hatha and Astanga. This class was a traditional Kundalini style and the breathwork and poses were key to opening up the chakras and energy flow of the body. Kundalini is rooted in untapping energy (prana) at the base of the spine that can be drawn up through the body awakening each of the seven chakras. Full enlightenment occurs when this energy reaches the Crown Chakra. Kundalini energy is often represented as a snake coiled at the base of the spine.

Our instructor had done a great job in created a setting of serenity and meditation through the sounds and dimly lit room. Although our poses were not difficult or extremely complicated; the combination of breath work and focus only on our body's alignment and breath helped shut out all external stresses and worries I had when I walked through the door.

Yoga has caught on here in the states over the past 15 years; but I was alarmed that few individuals under 50 were in my class. Granted, I'm in Florida- the retirement capital of the states- I thought there would be a much younger population.

Perhaps the benefits of yoga; reduced blood pressure, increased lubrication of joints, ligaments and tendons, the stimulation and massaging of all the internal organs, detoxification and increased flexibility and toning of the muscles are prescribed by doctors to the babyboomers as a way to combat the various ailments and diseases they now face.

Regardless of those involved in the session; Yoga had enriched my day and helped me release the toxins in my muscles and my mind.

I was quite moved by the poem our instructor read during the last 5 minutes of our meditation and wish to share with you today:

The Heart's Garden
by Katherine Merrill

The heart is a garden
Where thought flowers grow:
The thoughts that we think
Are seeds that we sow.

Every kind, loving thought
Bears a kind, loving deed;
While a thought that is selfish
Is just like a weed.

We must watch what we think,
Each minute, all day;
And pull out the weed thoughts
And throw them away;

And plant loving seed thoughts
So thick in a row
That there will not be room
For weed thoughts to grow.
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