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MAKING PEACE WITH OUR BODY WITH YOGA THERAPY

As an assistant clinical psychologist/researcher, Your Alchemists specialises in combining psycho- spiritual cognitive behavioural healing modalities which are ‘top down’, with body work (dance, voice & public speaking and yoga) practices which are ‘bottom up’. Many of our courses and modalities were investigated scientifically and tested in a variety of environments including large corporate organisations, holistic healthcare settings and with individuals from various cultures and parts of the world.

In this article we share why yoga is such a helpful modality to improve our wellbeing, how it is now recommended as an adjunct to other health treatments in hospitals, how it can help us make peace with our body and why it is sustainable, diverse and inclusive.

YOGATHERAPHY – YOGA ENTERS HOSPITALS AS A ‘BONA FIDE’ THERAPY

The modern understanding of yoga is often associated with outer transformation based on “asanas” (physical postures). It is based on Patanjali’s treatise on yoga, the ‘Yoga Sutras’, which unified and codified a comprehensive system of yoga often known as the ‘eight-fold path’. Asana, the third branch of yoga out of the eight steps, focuses on physical fitness. This is so that we gain control of our body ready for the inward journey of the subsequent steps.

Before this physical step, we study “yama” and “niyama”- how we conduct ourselves so that we can reach our highest potential.

Yoga focuses on self-discipline as a pillar for healthy physical, mental, and spiritual development.

With over 3000 postures (asanas) and seven other ‘branches’ of health, yoga is a complete body, mind & spirit wellbeing modality.

We know from a large body of scientific evidence and personal experience that yoga is for everyone, whatever shape, physical, emotional and health levels. Yoga is taught in hospitals for people in recovery.

We strongly believe that yoga is the most powerful and effective whole-body (mind-body/spirit) modality, which intervenes directly in the body, its systems and organs. It is the “bottom up” approach par excellence we use at Your Alchemists and have started researching its effect.

YOUR ALCHEMISTS YOGA RESEARCH AND THERAPY

After two decades of self-taught yoga practice alongside a stage career, I am delighted to soon undertake the 200 hours Yoga Teacher Training course in Rishikesh, India.

HOW YOGA TOUCHES AND TRANSFORMS ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE

Yoga is effective because balance is established in the nervous and endocrine systems, directly affecting all systems and organs of the body with overwhelming global scientific evidence from multiple countries and cultures such as:

  • Strengthening of your bones, spine, immunity and muscles
  • Protecting your heart
  • Soothing and healing your nervous system
  • Improving any sport performance & practice you already have
  • Rewiring your brain
  • Inclusive of Neuro-diverse and trauma recovery client groups by being ‘invitational’ and giving you the choice and control to practice at your own pace listening to yourself
  • Weight loss happens as a byproduct of all the above
  • Making peace with our body

HOW YOGA HELPS US MAKE PEACE WITH OUR BODY

When we have suffered ill-health, whether mental or physical, effects are felt directly in our body.

When we have undergone treatment or surgery, having to handle our changed schedules and medical appointments, let alone our tiredness and emotional shock, we feel pain daily directly in the body. We often feel let down by our body.

Are you aware of your body, as in being in your body moment by moment?

Can you feel yourself moving or do you need to look at your limbs moving to realise your body is moving?

Try this simple exercise at home:

  • Sit comfortably on a chair, with your back erect and your spine aligned, feet flat on the floor, your palms on your knees facing down.
  • Close your eyes and now move your right leg perpendicular to the floor. (Make sure you don’t strain and stop when you start feeling a gentle stretch).
  • Repeat with your left leg.
  • Can you feel the sensations as you move your legs?

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

These are questions we rarely ask ourselves often taking it for granted that we are ‘in our body’. Yet many of my clients who have experienced trauma or injuries take some time to answer this question often responding with thoughts rather than feeling the felt sense ‘in the body’. I certainly did too. It took me a while to inhabit my body comfortably and happily.

Most of the time, we are disconnected from our bodies, not comfortable being in our bodies. Not comfortable feeling what we really feel in the world.

Yoga is a powerful way to learn to be in relationship to our body and to ourselves.


I recommend if you have experienced trauma to pause before each practice.

HOW YOGA HELPS US MAKE PEACE WITH OUR BODY

As a recoverer from a food addiction and other ailments, I can attest from direct experience of how yoga has helped me reach peace with my body. We achieve this by:

  • Giving ourself the space to connect with our whole self
  • Allowing ourself the time and space to feel, be in the moment and if needed let go
  • Relearning to Breathe
  • 3000 postures/asanas adapted to each person, each need and each ailment type. There is something for everyone.
  • Many surgery recoverers have practiced yoga adapted to their recovery state achieving balance, relaxation and better sleep.

Evidence shows that our sleep, energy levels, concentration and general attitude in the face of adversity improve in turn speeding our recovery and wellbeing.

HOW YOGA IS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER FORMS OF EXERCISE

  1. There is a significant focus on breathing (pranayama) and breathing correctly. Oxygenation of cells and the balance created internally helps regulate other systems. Countless studies attest to these effects.
  2. The yoga philosophy helps us bring ourself into alignment with our true self (not the one wearing the societal mask) and the natural laws of life, creating inner balance and regaining control of ourselves, our emotions, mind and body.
Photo credit: Toots

INCORPORATING YOGA WITH OTHER EVIDENCE-INFORMED MODALITIES TO HELP YOU ‘BECOME YOUR OWN GURU’

Yoga is experential rather than intellectural and must be experienced rather than read about.

We teach you basic elements of yoga to start your on your journey of becoming your own guru alongside other spiritual cognitive and behavioural modalities we are accredited to teach.

We work with you to help you achieve any of your healing, professional or/and personal objectives.

“No one can know what it is like to be you. Everyone is unique. Your Alchemists Yoga is sustainable, inclusive, diverse and adaptable in constant flux with the times we live in. Like the main tenets of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which empower us to become our own guru by teaching us how to identify and therefore heal our false beliefs, yoga empowers us by showing us how to delve within to find our own strength. We become our own sources of authority, not relying on external conditions or other so called ‘experts’. Only we know what is best for us at any given time. It is a highly creative and fulfilling practice with benefits which far outweigh the medical, mental, spiritual and physical.You simply do not know how your life will unfold. It is beautiful to witness the positive changes in my clients.”

Irena Grgona, Your Alchemists

INVITATIONAL YOGA FOR TRAUMA RECOVERERS AND NEURO-DIVERSE INDIVIDUALS

Irena is currently creating a ‘trauma aware’ and ‘neuro-diverse friendly’ yoga and psycho-spiritual practice, which she is excited to research and develop in partnership with various healthcare colleagues upon her return from India. She is currently using elements of her method with private clients experimenting with a more invitational form of yoga. We will write more about this in a separate article.

Invitational yoga is about:

  • Having a choice to listen to what feels right to you.
  • To take it as far as feels right to you.
  • To not use accessories if it does not feel right to you.
  • To decline to be touched if it does not feel right to you.
  • You do not need to engage in small, talk or interact with others in our class. We understand how difficult social interactions are for neuro-diverse individuals.
  • Lights and sounds are also modified for comfort.
  • You do not have to face the ‘teacher’ in our classes. You can place the mat near a wall and face whatever you choose.
  • You have the power to choose for yourself and go at your own pace to discover this beautiful practice which reconnects us to ourselves and the world.

In a world which places so much emphasis on externals and items outside of ourselves to feel happy, yoga is a very powerful modality by virtue of enabling us to connect with our greatest gifts: ourselves.

If you’re interested in learning more about our workshops, email us at: irena@youralchemists.com.