Yoga as a Healing Path

Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Yoga festivals bring people together to celebrate. There is often a joyful and playful spirit. The day is full of energy—the sun is shining, music is playing, and friends laugh while slacklining, hula hooping, or practicing handstands. However, when we arrive on our mats the inner journey can often feel very different. Here, you might greet the tender emotions of grief, feelings of not being good enough, or the pain of feeling alone.

Being overly focused on positivity and happiness has its drawbacks. Trying to stay positive can lead us to override our true feelings. In truth, many of us have come to our yoga to heal. We step onto our mats to heal from trauma, addictions, eating disorders, or relationship losses. We step onto our mats to find a refuge from the pain of a chaotic world.

Practicing yoga at a festival, you might feel self-conscious when vulnerable emotions arise. You might feel the urge to conceal your feelings or pretend that you’re “all good.” It is easy to get caught in the very same traps you sought to escape when you started a yoga practice: a need to be seen as perfect, skinny, shiny, or strong. However, at Hanuman Festival, we invite you to keep it real and to let go of the masks that hide your authentic presence.

Yoga is not just about the shapes we create with our bodies. Yoga is about being real. It is a practice in being vulnerable. We come to Hanuman Festival to practice together in community. Here, we can remember that nobody is immune to hardship or loss. Everyone has a story.

It is a powerful practice to share yourself with others. Yet, doing so can evoke feelings of fear, embarrassment, or shame. And, when you open yourself up to another person, you risk being rejected. However, if someone puts you down or disrespects you, then it is important not to take these behaviors personally. Rather, you can trust that these kinds of reactions provide more information about the other person than they do about you.

Most importantly, being real can bring a gift of deep connection. The choice to share from your heart is an act of courage. We all have needs to be seen, held, understood, respected, and loved (whether we want to admit them or not). It is deeply important to be seen for your unique presence. It is a core need to be felt and understood for who you are and the gifts that you bring to the world, just by being you. Being witnessed with such clarity is like a restorative elixir that also helps build your capacity to see others for who they really are. You begin to look into the faces of your fellow human travelers and see their essence; even if it is tucked away in the recesses of a wounded heart.

At Hanuman Festival, we invite you to reclaim a sense of belonging. We encourage you to come back home to your true self. This journey is not only worthwhile, it is profoundly liberating.

Arielle Schwartz, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified yoga instructor with a private practice in Boulder, Colorado. She offers classes in therapeutic yoga for trauma recovery.  She is the author of two books The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Emotional Control and Becoming Whole and EMDR Therapy and Somatic Psychology: Interventions to Enhance Embodiment in Trauma Treatment. She is international sought out teacher dedicated to offering informational mental health and wellness updates through her writing, public speaking, social media presence, and blog. Learn more at www.drarielleschwartz.com


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