The Gifts of Yoga


On the twelfth day of xmas, yoga gave to me:

Twelve minutes of savanasa,

Eleven yin poses,

Ten yamas and niyamas,

Nine types of yoga,

eight limbs of yoga,

seven forward folds,

six back bends,

five deep breaths,

four warrior poses,

three woven blanket,

two sturdy blocks,

and a yoga mat in a shoulder bag.

This week, we celebrated the coming holiday– Christmas. We celebrated by reflected back on all the gifts yoga has given us–beyond just a great mat and some time to rest our legs up the wall.

Some great poses to use while reflecting and discussing include seal (sphinx), stick (staff), butterfly (bound angle), rock, hero, and cow face. You could have a gab fest While in poses, we discussed “yoga and you”, including:

  • how yoga has changed your relationships with yourself, others in your home, and nature;
  • which poses were your favorite and why;
  • what you like most and least about yoga, and what you would change; and
  • how yoga has altered your levels of compassion, forgiveness, and strength.

This completed my project implementation and data collection for my Master’s Thesis in Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck. I was researching whether yoga can connect people to nature as a healing modality, thus “affecting” PTSD which is due to Nature-Deficit Disorder. A lot of work has been done on yoga and PTSD in war veterans. Domestic violence survivors face similar problems, yet few advocates and yoga instructors, and even fewer researchers, have taken the time to research what works best for this group.

I was happily surprised that when I asked “how has yoga affected your relationship with nature”, even with the language barriers, students were able to express their positive feedback– that even in non-nature poses like warrior, one student felt more “connected to the earth underneath me and the sky above me and it allowed me to relax”. Others felt that when they go into parks now, they are more aware, and feel at peace in nature. Before, they were too stressed with abuse issues.

By and large, the results proved my hypothesis to be true, although this study is far from all-conclusive. Nature-based yoga may not be the only form of yoga that can help!

We also had some great ayurvedic-based treats, including:

As the students relaxed into Yoga Nidra for the last 40 minutes, we played soft music by Deva Premal. Talk about some peace! In yoga nidra, the body becomes so relaxed, it is as if it has rested for 4 hours. Twelve minutes of savasana just ain’t enough sometimes! Students were surprised has how amazing they felt.

If as Gandhi said, you must “be the change you wish to see in the world”, and as Thich Nhat Hahn always alludes to the peace within that is needed in order to bloom outside, then yoga is slowly working at carving that inner peace which has become more and more acknowledged in the field, helping us to become the change we want to see– PEACE.

And Merry Christmas!


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