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  • Writer's pictureRon Bushner

Svaroopa® Yoga is Very Healing

You may have heard that Svaroopa® yoga is very healing. Your next question may be, what does that mean or how does it work?

It is helpful to understand what a Svaroopa® yoga class is.

It starts with Awareness. Svaroopa® classes begin in supported Shavasana with 20 minutes or so of Guided Awareness and Ujjayi Pranayama. These practices turn us inward, relax our bodies, and quiet our minds. They prepare us for the asanas that make up most of the class. We are able to be more introspective about the poses. We are more deeply aware inside our bodies and can notice where we are holding tension.

The poses are well supported by props and precise alignment of the bones, allowing us to release tension wherever we find it. The asanas in every class are mostly easy and relaxing. Some asanas are more active. Whether “easy” or “active,” the point is to find steadiness with the least amount of effort. Maximizing steadiness while minimizing effort allows release in those areas that don’t need to be engaged to support the pose. Whether you are doing an easier or more active pose, the point is to be aware of how your body is aligned and supported, to find where there is tension that is unnecessary, and to let it go.

The sequencing of asanas in Svaroopa® classes is designed to release tension in the muscles attached to the spine methodically, at every level. There is universal agreement that the spine is the central channel for the operation of our senses. Having the spine as free of tension as possible changes the body and the mind deeply.

The class ends with a final relaxation. In Shavasana, the most supported of all asanas, we receive more Guided Awareness. This pose at the end of the class is an opportunity to integrate the changes that have taken place in our bodies and minds.

So, if Svaroopa® yoga is very healing, how does it do that?

It depends. Everyone is different.

Some find it difficult to do “nothing” during Shavasana and to move very little during asanas. They find such an approach to yoga boring and tedious. Some do not understand that the point of yoga is to still the mind, whether that is done through asana or some other yoga practice. Or they may think that the mind can only be quieted by asana if it is physically taxing or vigorous. These people experience no change and no healing.

Those who rise to the challenge learn to slow down, to turn inward, to refine their awareness. They engage their awareness to explore the subtle and deep sensations, the kind we do not notice in our everyday life. Having successfully cultivated a more refined awareness during Shavasana, we are able notice change in areas of the body that have been tight, immobile, or not functioning.

This kind of change is often described as feeling like the body is opening from the inside out. In our everyday life, these areas are often associated with pain or some other unpleasant sensation. Typically, we ignore these areas and avoid using them. The body adapts by developing compensatory patterns to work around the unwanted sensation. By doing asanas that support one portion of the body so another portion can release tension, we discover these compensatory tension patterns. This allows that part of the body to open and settle into a more natural position.

In the newly opened areas, we may notice nerves that were previously shutdown or not fully functioning. Those nerves begin to wake up and make connections that weren’t available while they were embedded in chronically tense tissue. Nerves that were embedded in tight, unmoving, chronically tense muscles begin to function and the muscles begin to move the bones in new ways.

The changes that we discover in the asana practice are not just in the body. In the process of the body changing, the mind changes too. They are connected. Our minds learn the power of sharply focusing on what is happening deep within ourselves in the moment. Both mind and body become calmer, quieter, and quite still.

That is how Svaroopa® heals for some.

For some, the challenge is not boredom but the fear of discomfort or pain. Asanas, even Shavasana, can be filled with sensation. Sometimes sensation can be disturbing. For many of us, our minds react to the disturbance by ignoring the sensation completely. We might dismiss it as unimportant or flee away from it and toward anything else.

Those who rise to the challenge meet the disturbing sensation with a calm mind. They do not ignore or deny the disturbing sensation. Svaroopa® cultivates an awareness that is curious and non-judgmental. We bring such awareness to the disturbing sensation and let it be whatever it is. We observe it without judgment. It is not a flaw in our bodies. It does not mean we have failed at the pose or that the yoga has failed us. The disturbing sensation is what it is. It is not an evil to be banished or an aspect of us to be hidden. Knowing more about the disturbing sensation is an essential step in healing. Our minds may never understand it. Fortunately, our bodies have their own intelligence and will do what needs doing to be healthier.

This is how the healing happens for some.

Svaroopa® yoga supports a shift in attitude. It quiets the mind and body and allows us to be fully present in the moment, not ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Everyone is different. Not everyone is ready for or needs what Svaroopa® offers. Exactly how the yoga works for those who do it is their own experience. But the yoga works very reliably for those of us who are open to change. The change starts with learning how to cultivate a refined, sensitive, non-judgmental awareness. Turning that awareness inward, we find how to be comfortable with our Self in body, mind, and spirit.

That level of awareness often fades as we move through our mundane, everyday life, but not entirely. That state lingers. The more often we do yoga, the longer it lingers. The more yoga we do, the easier it is to access that state of mind. What used to be so disturbing, we see is only part of our life. We are aware of more than the disturbing things. Seeing more, we have more choices for how to move through life. When disturbing experiences present themselves, we know how to engage life in a calm, focused, grounded way. We can see the disturbing situation for what it is, not what anxiety or fear say it is.

This is the healing that happens in the body, mind, and spirit by doing Svaroopa® yoga. We become more present and aware. We come to know and be more comfortable with our Self than ever before. Contentment becomes a more familiar, sustainable state of being.

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