YOGA FOR HEALING
FROM HEALING QUEST SHOW 4 – AIR DATE: 2/5/17
Most of us know that yoga is good for exercise and flexibility but would you believe it can also have a great impact for drug rehab and cancer recovery? Most of us know that yoga is good for exercise and flexibility but would you believe it can also have a great impact for drug rehab and cancer recovery? Sacramentan Gina Garcia’s “Yoga Across America” program is discovering that and more.
Yoga is something most of us are somewhat familiar with but probably don’t know the deep meaning of. So to learn more we talked with Dr. Deepak Chopra.
He told us “What yoga postures do is establish mind/body coordination, mind/body synthesis. The mind and body are inseparably one but we kind of artificially separate them by doing things we shouldn’t be doing.
“So if the body says ‘I want to sleep’ but I say ‘no, I have a deadline.’ Body says ‘I’m hungry and I say ‘I don’t have time to eat. So when we do things like that we disrupt this connection between the mind and the body which are usually one.”
Dr. Chopra said yoga re-establishes the connection and when it does our body is back in balance, which is called homeostasis. He says: “Just like you have a thermostat in a room which regulates the temperature of the room we have of course a thermostat which regulates our body temperature.
“But we have many homeostats. They regulate blood sugar, hormone levels, blood pressure, heart rate, immune function, thousands of them, and they all have to keep in harmony with each other. If a person’s homeostats are in balance they’re healthy.”
Dr. Chopra said when those homeostats are out of balance the result is disease. “Yoga postures,” he said, “by re-establishing the mind/body connection particularly if you combine them with meditation and breathing techniques which we call Pranayama, by re-establishing the mind/body connection, restoring homeostasis, actually facilitates the healing process.”
His words about the healing power of yoga rang especially true when we spoke with Gina Garcia and some of the folks in her yoga program. Gina is a former TV news reporter in Sacramento but she also loved yoga and the transformative effect it can have.
She told us: “I realized how much the practice transformed my life so I wanted to share it with as many people as possible. I started teaching a free class outside for friends. It started in my living room and we outgrew my living room.”
Gina’s outdoor classes on Saturday grew to as many as 350 people which lead her to found an ambitious national program called Yoga Across America. Their motto is “Yoga For Everyone Everywhere.” Gina said: “Our intention is to really share the practice with people who have never heard of yoga, who can’t afford it, or who don't have access to the practice; so serving underserved communities.”
Dwight Armstrong is typical of the people Gina wants to reach with her Yoga Across America program. He told us: “I’ve had a long extensive drug problem: drug addiction for 45 years, in and out of the penitentiary, in and out of county jail.
But after one arrest Dwight got a break: a judge offered him a chance to avoid going to jail by going to a different kind of diversion program. He said: “The second day I was there I got introduced to yoga and there was something about yoga that seemed to ring true to me. I really began to understand what yoga was about not just the physical and the mental but the spiritual part of it. Yoga has given me a new way of life. I’m not using dope no more I’m into yoga.”
Dawn Heffington says yoga helped her psychologically and physically deal with stage three ovarian cancer. She said: “During the treatments and even afterwards, cancer itself can get you pretty anxious: you know have a little bit of anxiety about am I still going to make it, am I still going to be sick, am I done with treatment, am I not, when is my body going to get back?
“And yoga has just helped me relax more, it's helped me focus on the now, the present moment, instead of worrying about tomorrow or what's going to happen in five months. When I was finishing the chemo I was pretty weak, my muscles weren't anywhere near as toned as they were before chemo or as toned as they are now.
“It helped with my muscle tone and muscle mass. I would say yes, yoga is very helpful. It helps you get back in tune with your body which is an awesome feeling.”
Yoga Across America has attracted the support of HealthCorp, a non-profit founded by Dr. Mehmet Oz and his wife Lisa, and the program is now in more than 60 high schools in 13 states and the District of Columbia. Gina said: “We have teachers across the country sharing yoga with service members, veterans, wounded warriors, at food banks, homeless shelters, the Shriner’s Children's hospital, yoga for cancer survivors, and the list goes on.
“The beauty behind the practice is seeing people embrace it and it transforms their lives. Really the possibilities are endless when you co-create and come from community. It's this paradigm shift of something bigger then we ever imagined. Yoga is a journey inward so be willing to try something new and see what happens.”
As we learned from Dr. Chopra the ultimate meaning of yoga is union – union with source, with ultimate spirit. So we wish Gina all the best in her vision of bringing the healing benefits of yoga to everyone everywhere.