I was 25 years old when I watched my mother wither away from diabetes. I felt this deep piercing pain that left me trapped in a depressive state. But I made a declaration that I didn’t want her fate. I was determined to take care of my health.
By Sariane Leigh
Yet exercise and eating right were not enough to carry me out of the depression. Then one day an old wise friend introduced me to yoga. He taught me three simple steps that have forever transformed my life.
The first step is to sit still and breathe: Inhaling for seven counts, holding for one count and exhaling again for seven counts. The breathing exercises felt good. They were cleansing and detoxifying. Whenever I felt angry, anxious or uncertain, I would stop and take 30 seconds to breathe. Within that time, I could feel the tension release from the back of my neck. My jaw unclenched and brow less furrowed. The emotional blockages stored in my body floated away with each breath.
The second step is the asana practice, a dance of movements that warms up and realigns the body. The healing medicine is connected to the yoga movement. The Sage pose loosens the spine allowing me to surrender to the reality that there is something greater than me ordering my steps. I physically let go of the anger in my belly through a deep twist (Sage’s Twist). I started to see my arm muscles tone up, my abs flatten and my face lose the stress lines.
The third step is meditation. This is the easiest on my body, but the hardest on my mind. In the beginning I couldn’t imagine forcing my mind to settle down. It was like a wild monkey jumping from thought to thought and experience to experience. But second by second, the stillness came. Minute by minute, I began to experience clarity and finally a euphoric joy of emptiness. For once in my life, there were no thoughts. For one moment in time, I connected to this higher power. For today, I let go.
This three-step yoga process of breathing, movement and meditation is the easiest self-healing process that has ever been presented to me. Out of all the previous attempts at healing, this one seemed to work. Yoga helped me reconnect to this latent power and capture my internal strength. Yoga operated as my personal therapeutic healing system. I still cried and mourned my mother’s death every single night. I also woke up every morning committed to my self-healing yoga practice. Nonetheless, I was functional, healthy and spiritually grounded. Through meditation and conscious breathing, I learned to balance my emotions.
Some women run long miles to condition the heart. Other women dance for hours to sweat the stress away. My therapy is in my yoga practice. I came to yoga to ease the deep emotional tension stored in my body. I know first-hand the true, restorative, and transformative power of the yoga tradition. Now I am a yoga therapist for black women recovering from trauma. My signature Soulful Flow Yoga™ workshops integrate quotes from Iyanla Vanzant and music from Mary J Blige’s album, “My Life.” The students who participate in my workshops walk away with a personal and profound mind-body healing experience. My classes, workshops and the Soulful Flow Yoga System move students to a place of joyful relaxation and immediate access to peace. The process is to nourish your body, love your life and be present with a divine energy. The result is a revitalizing transformation in your mental, emotional and spiritual life. Give yourself an inner and outer makeover through this yoga beautification process. See the new possibilities for yourself, your health and your spirit.
About Sariane Leigh
Sariane Leigh is a registered yoga therapist and black women’s health writer based in Washington D.C. Sariane founded the Anacostia Yogi organization for black women seeking more balance, joy and in their lives. Sariane holds a Master of Arts in Women’s Studies from The George Washington University and served internationally as U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer. Her unique approach integrates the scientific structure of Hatha Yoga with the psycho-social healing tradition from black women’s spirituality.
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