Notes from a Yoga Class

Saturday morning our yoga teacher asked us a question which I would like to share here. “What is the difference between curing and healing?” If you look up these words in a thesaurus, you will see that they are defined to be synonymous. However, there ought to be a difference which requires a deeper contemplation. He did not reveal the answer but gave an important hint by saying that “you can be healed but not cured, you might be dying of a disease but be totally healed or you might be cured but not healed.” This question remained with me so I decided to write about it in search of a possible answer. I believe curing is mostly physical and mainly focuses on restoring the body back to its previous state. Healing, on the other hand, begins in the soul. It is spiritual, emotional, and mental. Yet, there must be a significant connection between these two since our physical body is the home to our spirit and emotions. Regardless of whomever we are or whatever we do, we all have wounds, frustrations, mistakes, regrets or dilemmas in our lives. Most of the time, these may prevail in the form of negative thoughts and feelings in our minds and hearts. And over time, just like the way mold destroys a house, these negative feelings and thoughts harm the body. Maybe a physical condition that needs to be cured is merely the tip of the iceberg. In this regard, we can perhaps assume that curing focuses on the present for the most part whereas healing is more of a long-term and deeper process. We might as well say that healing is more of internal and curing is more of external. All of these are my assumptions and as you would realize, I do not have a clear answer so far. Still, I believe this is an excellent life question that one might want to dwell on for some time.

Another note from one of my previous yoga classes is related to our teacher’s expression of “Breath is the window to the mind”. I believe breath is another subject matter which deserves further contemplation on our part. Life starts with our first breath and ends with the last one. In this perspective, breath is the prerequisite of our vitality. We do not often pay attention to the way we breathe though, do we? Actually the way we breathe has a lot to do with our physical body and mental state. In the physical facet, each breath supplies our body with the amount of oxygen that reaches our lungs, blood, organs, and cells. So whether we breathe at our full capacity and increase the amount of oxygen to our blood and organs would have physical effects on the cellular level in the body. A breath taken at full capacity would not only increase our energy level but also enhance our brain functions. On the other hand, the way we breathe might reveal so much about the way we feel. For instance, when we are anxious we tend to have shorter breaths. When we are tense or in a low mood, our breath becomes shallow and restricted. Thus, we might as well say that the mind controls the breath. Can we reverse the process and take control of breath to calm our mind and spirit? I guess developing an awareness regarding the way we breathe and certain type of breathing exercises would probably do that over the course of time. You may want to check out this link to have access to good information on yogic breathing.

The last but not the least note from my yoga class is about the concept of ego detachment. I first came across with this phrase while we were practicing the posture of Upavistha Konasana, wide-angle seated forward bend. It is a challenging posture for many. As we were all trying hard to overcome the challenges of the posture, our instructor said “this is a very good posture for ego detachment, isn’t it? Work from a soft place, listen to your body and when you come to a point where you cannot bend any further, just accept it and stop”. In most sports achievement and competition are so important. Yet, it is not the case in yoga. It is a form of sportive activity that is very comforting and nurturing. In fact it is more than sports, a journey and a magical mirror that reflects internal part of you. What does it mean to be detached from your ego and how does it happen? Is it a kind of abandonment? I believe this is the most complicated question in this particular post. Actually one needs a lot of contemplation and frequent practice of yoga to grasp the meaning of this concept. My current answer, which might change any time soon, is surrendering to the process, a form of surrender that might have some common features with the Islamic tawakkul perhaps.

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