Yoga is more about inner strength than outer muscles.
Emotional Yoga is a book about emotions. It is also a yoga book. But here, yoga is a methodology for helping you access, transform, and heal your emotions, as well as your body and mind. This is the "real reason" for doing yoga, invoking the enthusiasm of all your parts, especially your emotional parts.
The practice of Emotional Yoga will allow you to touch your feelings and the feelings of others. Ultimately, it will help you to heal yourself.
Where Did It Come From?
In the early 1990's I began teaching yoga at Dr. Deepak Chopra's Ayurvedic medical center near Boston. I observed the body in all kinds of conditions and saw how yoga could be adapted to these conditions. I worked with cancer patients, children, seniors, people who were physically challenged, celebrities, and athletes. I also taught my father what I learned from my teacher, T.K.V. Desikachar — how to carefully stretch his back with movement and breath.
After seeing these exercises, Dad's neurologist told him it was the best program for the spine he'd ever seen. Dad's condition improved. Cancer patients felt better (some cancers went into remission). One quadriplegic began having feelings in his body. The children had fun. Some of the celebrities thought yoga was better than working out.
This was the beginning of my true faith in yoga.
The Yoga of Emotional Healing
Emotional Yoga is a gathering of Viniyoga, Ayurveda, mind-body medicine, and other systems of treatment I've experienced. My teachers and mentors in the fields of yoga, dance, spirituality, and medicine have inspired the fundamental concepts that form the foundation of this book. Their insights have provided me with an integral vision of life, working on all levels, including the internal and external in ourselves, in culture, and in society. The premise of Emotional Yoga is to strive for this level of wholeness.
In Emotional Yoga, engaging the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual parts of you is essential for creating health. While it’s great to be able to execute a complicated pose, climb a mountain, or lift heavy weights, if you have an emotional weakness inside, no matter how strong your muscles are, you remain weak. You find it difficult to function. You collapse with a small emotional problem. Why does this happen? Perhaps it’s because the power inside you is so rarely touched.
Yoga is more about inner strength than outer muscles. The whole intention of your yoga practice is for you to be an integrated human being in all ways, not to gain muscular prowess, do a lot of postures, or become a gymnast or human pretzel.
What really counts is what’s going on in your life right now. How are you feeling? How is your sense of well-being? How are your relationships? If you easily become agitated, something inside is trying to tell you something. If you are emotionally balanced, you become more tolerant and your immune system is strengthened.
To be a functional member of society and enjoy healthy relationships, you must have a certain amount of emotional stability. At each level of your life there will be stress – physical, emotional, financial, romantic. The practice of yoga helps you deal with these stresses and become a more stable human being. It protects your health, maintains your emotional balance, and sustains your life.
Here, the practices of Emotional Yoga come in several forms – emotional inquiries, self-observations, physical exercises, breathing techniques, meditations, rituals, and healing sounds – all considered equal in helping you along your emotional path.
Emotional Yoga offers you an opportunity to:
—Take responsibility in shaping who you are and what you feel.
—See your emotional experiences as feelings and moods, rather than “how things are.”
—Realize that you are not responsible for emotions that arise but that you are responsible for staying in a mood.
—Open yourself to the possibility of healing troubling or challenging emotions.
—Change your attitudes and beliefs.
—Use your body to help shift your emotional state.
—Understand how your emotions can help you to develop character, resoluteness, sensitivity, and wisdom.
—Grow spiritually and attune yourself to the greater world around you.
Emotional Yoga involves your whole life. It's more than just an exercise program. It's a lifelong healing practice. You will learn how to cultivate your body. But more important, you will learn how to nurture the life-enhancing energy at the basis of all your actions, feelings, and thoughts.
This will make you a more joyous person in whatever life requires you to do.
Be sure to explore my book, "Emotional Yoga: How the Body Can Heal the Mind".