May 5, 2020
In my last blog the focus was on the idea that it’s ok not to be ok. It’s not only ok to feel angry, sad, lonely, etc. it’s normal and necessary. This is all part of being human.
And, although it is normal and necessary to feel all of these emotions as they arise it is also important to find ways to manage them and move them out. When we suppress these very natural parts of ourselves it potentially will come out sideways when we are beyond our capacity to cope with the stressors in our lives. Like an volcanic eruption. The suppression of these very real emotions can also cause harm to our bodies. And when these emotions get stuck and we lack the tools to shift it can cause dis-ease. It can cause us to get sick. It can immobilize us.
There are ways to manage these emotions beyond cognitive therapy. Many of us who work in modalities that address the body believe that the body must also be addressed because our “issues are in our tissues”.
Each of us has different degrees of trauma living within our bodies. All of our thoughts, emotions, experiences live in our bodies at the cellular level, in our connective tissues and our organs. And if the traumas that live within our bodies are not dealt with in a way that addresses the whole body it can accumulate and eventually lead to disease.
So, in addition to the traditional ways we deal with emotional distress in our culture (counseling, therapy, journaling, etc.) healing also happens through the body.
We are in a collective moment of stress that is impacting every single one of us. This is hard. There is increased anxiety, fear, lonliness, resentment and anger. And, it is possible to manage this stress. To allow yourself to be present with ourselves, to tolerate the discomfort of these emotions rather than avoid them. Yoga provides us with valuable tools and resources to build resilience.
In yogic philosophy we use the Pancha Maya Kosha model as a tool for healing. This is a biopsychosocial model. It looks at the whole body based on 5 bodies of consciousness, or layers that cover the truth of who we are at our center. Each is impacted by our lived experiences and each impacts the others.
They are deeply interconnected and when we can bring them all into harmony we are better able to live the life that we most deeply desire. We are able to thrive despite adversity such as the moment we are living in right now.
Incorporating the practices of yoga and Ayurveda into your everyday life can help bring all the koshas—body, breath, mind, wisdom, and spirit—into balance. This promotes overall health and wellbeing and can support you living a life that feels whole and on purpose.
The most outer layer of the body is known as the annamaya kosha, translated to mean the ‘food body’. It is the muscles, the tissues, the bones.
Here are a few tips that can support the resilience of the anamaya kosha:
Move your body.
- Asana: The third limb of Patanjali's 8 Limbed Path. The physical practice of yoga, postural yoga. Because we all carry trauma. Because we all carry deep emotional experiences in our bodies asana allows us to (at the physiological level) release some of that trauma. Freeing us from fear...to love.
- Any movement works. Pay attention to how you feel. What brings you more ease and releases the tension in our physical, psychological and mental body? Do you love to dance? To run? To swim? In Ayurveda we use the 5 elements and the 3 doshas as a way to discover what types of movement would best benefit the body at any given moment. It's an invitation to always stay curious and intuititve. It's continual experimentation. Trusting the information that your own body gives you rather than a prescription that does not necessarily apply to your unique body and experience.
Nourish your body.
- How are you feeding your body? What, how, when are you eating? Start to go beyond the simple question of 'what should I eat?' Rather ask yourself 'how nourished should I feel?' Then choose to feed your body based on this. What makes you feel deeply nourished?
- The Ayurvedic Clock: In Ayurveda there are simple answers to when we should eat to best optimize our digestive process, having the largest meal of the day when the sun is the highest. This is when the digestive fire is burning hottest and when the body produces the most bile. According to this ancient 'science of life' we reduce prana (life force) and increase ama (undigested food...basically shit) when we are not aligned to our bodies natural rhythms.
- Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic ritual practice using warm oil to massage the body. There is no greater expression of self-love and compassion than taking the time to massage oneself each day. A daily Abhyanga practice restores the balance of the doshas and enhances well-being and longevity. There are countless benefits to this ritual including increased circulation, lubricates the joints, calming of the nervous system and it benefits sleep. Give it a try! I use Banyan Botanicals Daily Massage Oil, which is great for all three constitutions.
And remember, as you begin to nurture and heal the annamaya kosha the other layers of the body will also be impacted. You will be better equipped to deal with these uncertain times. Better able to cope with the myriad of emotions that arise.
Interested in going a little deeper into the koshas? Check out the self-paced online course Beyond Asana.
Or consider applying for Align & Awaken, a transformational journey to heal, align and awaken the body from the inside out. It is a deep healing experience with the support of a dynamic group. Apply to get on the waiting list for the next cohort beginning June 23!!
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