You Were Made For This | Warrior 1

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I find it truly amazing to look around and see the amazing paths God calls each of us to take. Each path different and unique in its own way. Each path full of ups and downs and all kinds in-betweens that require strength and endurance.  Each path a walk that only a warrior can take. You are a warrior. I am a warrior. Even though your path may be different than mine, we walk our paths the same way each and every day: in faith.

One of my favorite yoga poses is Warrior 1. It reminds me of the great stance I take daily as I wake and walk my path: one of fierce faith and endurance. I am a spiritual warrior walking a battleground full of darkness. The world tries to engulf me with negative energies like anxiety and fear that seek to bring down my soul so that I will not continue as a mighty warrior in the army of love. But I am a warrior. My mind, body and spirit are trained up by the Most High King. It is in Him that I defeat, conquer and thrive. His strength fills my soul. His love permeates my deepest being. He brings light into the darkness and when He does I can see clearly that I was made for this.

I was made for the battles in my life. God knew me before I was born (Jeremiah 1:5) and He knew the battles I would face (Deuteronomy 1:30). Nothing I come to surprises Him and when I am living in full faith, it doesn’t surprise me either. Instead I rise up, as the warrior I am in Christ and live fully in the peace and joy that can only come from Him!!

Warrior 1 is a foundational pose, meaning it is a part of the building blocks of your yoga practice.  Just like a foundation in Christ is the building block for your best life, foundational poses are essential for your best yoga practice. Simple as this pose may be, it is a important part of your yoga practice and when your feet are rooted to the ground beneath you, holding your body steady and strong, engaging the erector spinae, muscles that lie along the low spine, the gluteus maximus, the quadriceps, the hamstrings and the adductors of the inner thighs you will find yourself feeling ready to step into the battles God has called you to enter.

Practicing Warrior 1 as a Christian yogi is how I can mentally and physically prepare. myself for the day. It is one of my favorite morning practice poses and I love to meditate on warrior scripture as I enter in and breathe deeply into the pose:

  1. Start in Mountain Pose, standing with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Let your mind begin to focus on Jesus.  As you inhale meditate onPsalms 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my safe cover. My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. So my heart is full of joy. I will thank Him with my song. Breathe deeply and evenly, allowing God to strengthen your soul. Draw your awareness to God’s divine love.Turn to the left.
  2. Exhale and step your feet wide apart, about 4 to 5 feet.
  3. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, so your toes are pointing to the top of the mat.
  4. Turn your left foot inwards at a 45-degree angle.
  5. Align your front heel with the arch of your back foot. Keep your hips turned toward the front of your mat. Inhale and receive the strength God offers you.
  6. Press your weight through your left heel rooting your left heel with the ground below you. Exhale as you bend your right knee over your right ankle. Your shin should be perpendicular to the floor. Lift through the arches of your feet, while rooting down through your ankles feeling the deep strength that can only come from your Father God.
  7. Inhale and reach up strongly through your arms as if reaching out to receive and accept the strength of God. Broaden across your belly, lengthen the sides of your waist, and lift through your chest. Keep your palms and fingers active and reaching with either palms facing each other or touching each other.
  8. Gently tilt your head back and gaze up to the heavens with your face relaxed. Keep your shoulders dropped away from your ears. Allow your shoulder blades to press firmly inward.
  9. Exhale and press down through the outer edge of your back foot, keeping your back leg straight and strong.
  10. Hear God’s word again. Psalms 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my safe cover. My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. So my heart is full of joy. I will thank Him with my song. Continue inhaling and exhaling slowly as you hold this pose for up to one minute. Feel God’s strength permeate your body, muscle by muscle, thought by thought.
  11. As you prepare to release the pose, thank God for the strength He has given you for today. Inhale. Release your weakness and doubts as you relate the pose by pressing your weight through your back heel and straightening your front leg.  Exhale. Lower your arms.  Inhale and turn to the left, reversing the position of your feet, and repeat for the same length of time on the opposite side.

As you practice this pose, remember you are warrior and you were made for this. You were created to be who you are, where you are and when you are. Noting in this life is a mistake or coincidence. The same God that went before you and prepared you way is walking alongside you and giving you every ounce of strength you need to succeed in the call He has given you.

Trauma Focused Yoga

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Practicing yoga comes with many benefits: flexibility, stress relief, focus, and strength. One of the major benefits, in my opinion, is the release of trauma trapped in the body through trauma focused yoga. There is a growing amount of evidence showing that yoga, modified for a therapeutic practice, is a truly amazing tool for healing and empowering those who have experienced trauma. In a trauma focused yoga practice each individual is given the tools to connect with themselves in an empowering way.

Trauma Sensitive Trauma Centered Yoga (TSTCY) was created by David Emerson in collaboration with trauma expert, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. Trauma focused yoga practices are solidly based in trauma, attachment theory, neuroscience and yoga.

It’s a treatment that we’ve built specifically for complex or developmental trauma because there’s a real need for good treatments for this condition that is being treated with other things that weren’t made for it, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, talk therapy or prolonged exposure that are being superimposed on complex trauma and not working very well.”

 

According to research, trauma focused yoga can have greater beneficial benefits effects in alleviating traumatic stress symptoms as most medications. In all research groups the stress related symptoms were minimized or alleviated.

“Trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain, and body.” – Bessel van der Kolk

“The challenge”, Bessel van der Kolk explains, “ is to learn how to tolerate feelings and sensations by increasing the capacity for interoception or sitting with yourself, noticing what’s going on inside— the basic principle of meditation. They need to learn how to modulate arousal. Trauma-sensitive people have their sense of time thrown off and think something will last forever. Their challenge is to learn how to notice what is happening and how things can and will shift, rather than running away or turning to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate. Yoga helps regulate emotional and physiological states. It allows the body to regain its natural movement and teaches the use of breath for self-regulation. What is beautiful about Yoga is that it teaches us—and this is a critical point for those who feel trapped in their memory sensations—that things come to an end. While doing certain asanas, uncomfortable sensations may be evoked. But, by keeping time as they stay in a posture for a limited amount of time, they get to observe that discomfort can be tolerated until they shift into a different posture. The process of being in a safe space and staying with whatever sensations emerge and seeing how they come to an end is a positive imprinting process. Yoga helps them befriend their bodies that have betrayed them by failing to guarantee safety.

Another important aspect of Yoga is utilizing the breath. It’s very striking that there’s nothing in western culture that teaches us that we can learn to master our own physiology— solutions always come from outside, starting with relationships, and if those fail, alcohol or drugs.

Yoga teaches us that there are things we can do to change our brainstem arousal system, our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and to quiet the brain.”

I will add the final and most important aspect of a trauma yoga practice in my studio: Jesus Christ. I believe a Christ focused trauma yoga practice invites healing. It opens our hearts and minds to the healing presence of the Holy Spirit. My classes can include scripture or prayer, or I often pray for each of my students silently. I invite the Holy Spirit into each class and pray healing over all of my students. Jesus healed me through the use of talk therapy and trauma focused yoga and I believe He can, and will, heal you!!!

In a trauma focused practice I simply lead a class that helps those who have experienced trauma learn how to calm their minds and regain safety in their own bodies. It is a practice unlike other yoga practices in that it allows the body to release emotions stored within our muscles and cells. It gives back a sense of empowerment and choice to those who have had no choice and felt powerless.