In Forrest yoga we begin our classes by setting an intent. These intents vary from breathing space into a tight spot all the way to to stalking and seeking out fears that arise during the poses. These intents are one of the many reasons I have found my home in Forrest yoga. I go out to play in other yoga styles and then joyfully return to my Forrest studio in Berkeley.
In my workshop this August with fellow Rolfer and friend, Kim Ureta, we envisioned taking people to an empowered place of healing through yoga, ayurvedic eating, and essential oil massage. This was our intent. We called it the “Advanced Healing Weekend” because we believe this type of internal listening can be some of the most challenging, brave and rewarding healing work we will all do.
Our morning began with yoga and I happily set the intent for the both the yoga class and the whole weekend.
“Our intention today is to connect with our innate healing intuition. We have a wealth of knowledge from within guiding us to make healing choices for ourselves. We receive so much information from the outside world about what is good for us. Much of it can be useful but it can also distract us from the deep places inside of us that contain personal healing answers unique to us. Today we will breathe, listen, and honor what we find. “
I continually asked the workshop students to make their breath the number one priority during class even if that meant just sitting and breathing. Just sit and breathe you read. Well that sounds easy right, you breathe all day long. One difference over the course of my yoga practice is how deeply I breathe and with how much awareness I do so. With awareness and deep breath, I have found solutions to problems pestering me for months and even years. Not an answer from paying attention to something outside myself but from my own internal healing fire that burns so bright if I stoke it with love and breath.
“If something doesn’t feel good, stop doing it. Keep breathing and make a healing choice for yourself. Honor the wisdom your body has”
Once I began cultivating this practice of deep breath and awareness, I began to do it more outside of yoga class. If I feel my stress level rising, I take some deep breaths. If I’m having trouble making a decision, I take some deep breaths and listen. It also makes me more aware when I lose this ability. Some days my breath is harder to find, my ribs feel stuck, the stress goes into my neck and I can’t seem to breathe in a way that lets my neck relax. And that’s when I call a Rolfing colleague for a session, sleep a little more, call a friend to laugh with, and listen even closer in case the answer is something new or unexpected.
Healing choices come in many forms. They can be big like figuring out the appropriate cancer treatment for yourself or more simple like taking the time to stretch, saving yourself pain in the long-term. And at their most exciting, they are the things no one else would ever guess for you. They are yours.
The journey of healing starts with every moment and in every inhale. No plane required but still a beautiful and exhilarating ride.