Have you ever stopped to think about how miraculous it is that you could break a bone and apart from putting it in a cast (depending on the bone) to keep it still the next thing you do is wait until the bone fuses itself back together?
What about when we get a cold or the flu? We feel terrible for days, maybe even weeks and then all of a sudden we wake up and we don’t have it anymore.
It’s pretty amazing that our body has the capacity to use itself, sometimes without any additional medications or aids to become what we might otherwise call ‘normal’ again. And yet, how often, when we are in pain, and most times serious pain have we stopped to simply remember that although we may need some help from time to time, at the end of the day no matter what help is provided OUR body heals itself.
But how does it do it you may ask? I’m certainly no doctor but from the little I know or have learnt through yoga and the anatomy, physiology and biomechanics of the body one of the most important tools we have to heal our body as naturally as possible is our very own breath.
Let’s talk about the breath. The breath is something we very rarely use properly, in fact I’ll take it one step further and say that too often we don’t use our lungs properly.
Take a moment to sit up tall, take a deep breath, as deep as you can, do you notice that at a certain point it catches? Like your chest can’t rise any further? Then take a second or maybe a third deep breath, it may not come naturally but after focussing on it for more than just one breath you will notice you will be able to breath deeper without having to do anything differently. And do you know what? With each breath that you take, especially ones where you truly use your lungs, you are filtering precious nutrients through oxygen to all of the extremities in your body.
Doing this simple action can directly help to heal your body.
Think of a cut/ wound/ scratch. There are a couple of key things they need to heal. One of those is oxygen, or fresh air. Now imagine if you applied that philosophy to the INSIDE of your body. You cannot only physically mend injuries or imbalances (and I’ll add a disclaimer, depending on the nature of what you need you may not be able to do it with the breath alone) but you can also heal emotional / mental / spiritual imbalances or injuries.
When talking about anxiety or mental health, I should note that again, I am no expert but what I do know is that one of the techniques taught to help counteract a panic attack is to take a long deep exhale and to slow the breath down. In particular our exhale, when long and slow, helps our body kick into the parasympathetic nervous system which is our relaxation nervous system. By switching into this system we automatically begin to counteract the effects that every day stress and other mental illnesses can have on our body. For some people this takes real practice, a helping hand, a tap on the shoulder but when mastered it can become a positive habit and response to a situation where you might otherwise have chosen a different fight or flight response.
These two simple aspects and ways of using your breath, can provide you with the foundation cto heal yourself from the inside out. These are not the be all and end all answers to healing our bodies however. From time to time we will all need to seek additional help from medical practitioners of all kinds but it is important to remember that no matter what is prescribed, medicated or taught to you, your body is your biggest asset and it is so incredibly important to treat it with respect and love because without it, you wouldn’t be here.
So in the wise words of Ross Rayburn, who I had the pleasure of attending a workshop with to gain more knowledge on self adjustments and in particular how to heal or provide self therapy to injuries we may incur during our practice “Never forget that we all have access for our bodies to heal themselves. “