Yoga as a Healing Tool

This is the fifth article in the series, “The 12 Healing Tools“. These articles outline the things that I have found most useful in my journey to overcome childhood trauma and abuse, drug addiction, and debilitating depression.

I put off writing this article because it’s a pretty deep topic for me. There are so many reasons why yoga helped me, some of which I continue to learn about based on scientific research1, 2; and the ways that it helped me are vast and continue to unfold every year I practice. So I suppose I will start at the beginning, even though the beginning was pretty boring. 😉

One of my friends suggested we sign up for a series of Wellspan Health yoga classes around 2003 (don’t quote me on exact dates). I remember it being a struggle financially for both of us. We were single females in recovery and it seemed like there was barely enough money for the basics, much less something frivolous like a yoga class. But somehow, we found a way.

I don’t remember feeling like much was happening in the beginning – unlike during the free Buddhist meditation classes we were also attending around the same time. If anything, I felt self-conscious and really out of place! But for whatever reason, I kept trying to find affordable classes to attend.

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What is Breathwork Therapy?

Pranayama (control of prana or life force energy via the breath), is one of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, and as such has very ancient healing roots. However, the more modern version of therapeutic breathwork was born in the 1960s out of LSD research. When the government banned LSD, Stanislov Grof turned his attention to something that couldn’t be outlawed: breathing. Grof went on to trademark “Holotropic Breathwork“, a non-drug alternative to reaching altered states of consciousness.

Today, there are numerous styles of therapeutic breathwork. At the core, all breathwork therapy has benefits similar to other “psychedelic therapies” (such as Ayahuasca, magic mushrooms, and LSD) in that, as oxygen builds up in the blood, the breather experiences a mild sort of trip with the aim of promoting transcendental, ecstatic, religious or mystical peak experiences. Types of experiences usually fall into one or more of several categories:  sensory, biographic, perinatal, and yogic sleep states.

Continue reading What is Breathwork Therapy?