This post appeared on charlotteeasterlingyoga.com earlier this month.
A couple of months ago, I did some one-on-one sessions with a student who wanted to take yoga classes but was finding the pace challenging. He’s in a larger body, and he’s on the autism spectrum, so public classes were a bit overwhelming for him early on. During our first session together, he told me he has “a bad body,” which was heartbreaking to hear.
After a few sessions, he was ready to start taking public yin classes at PULSE with my friend Valerie. He’s been practicing with her since June. Earlier this week, Valerie read me an email that she got from his caseworker describing our student’s progress. He’s been feeling calmer and less stressed, and he now says that he loves his body. That’s what Valerie has described as yoga magic, and it’s my absolute favorite thing about teaching. (And it also left Valerie, Anne, and me teary-eyed to read it.)
The cool thing about yoga magic is that it doesn’t take long to kick in. A little breathwork here, some movement there, throw in some quiet time and suddenly you’re feeling the love. There’s a whole bunch of fancy neuroscience to explain that, and I totally geek out on all that stuff. But in the end, it still seems like magic most of the time.
Mostly, I like to use (and teach) yoga magic that helps get body and brain in sync with each other. That alleviates a lot of anxiety and stress, and it’s also a powerful healing tool for working through deeper issues such as trauma and depression. Some of the most basic things we can do to take care of ourselves—and feel better in both the long and the short run—are my favorite magic tricks:
- Get some rhythm. Flowing, rhythmic motion feels good for our bodies and our brains. Done one way, it’s soothing and quieting. Done another way, it’s invigorating without being harsh and crackly. Add a little music and you’re on the way to a yoga dance party.
- Take some breath. Breathwork is a powerful tool for anyone, which is why we talk about it so much in yoga. There’s breath to calm, breath to energize, breath to balance. Something as simple as focusing on your exhale can do a lot to quiet an overactive nervous system.
- Connect with other people. Just being in a room with others can be healing. When you start moving and breathing together, your mirror neurons kick in, and that deepens the feeling of connection.
Yoga magic is for everyone. Whether it’s your first class or you’ve been practicing for years, it’s there for you. Think of your yoga mat as a magic carpet and hop on for a ride!
Want to learn more about specific ways to use yoga magic? Join me August 22nd and 23rd at PULSE for three workshops: Yoga for Anxiety Relief, Yoga to Ease Depression, Bedtime Yoga for Better Sleep. I'm looking forward to offering you my best tips and tricks!