"In order to come home to ourselves without fear of encountering the suffering, we must have a practice of mindfulness and concentration."

- Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindfulness and concentration on the breath are the beating heart of yoga therapy. Joyful Heart uses this ancient and revered wellness modality in our pursuit of 21st century healing.

Yoga is one of the oldest restorative modalities. Most scholars date the practice back to 3000 B.C. Since then, it has been in continual use to achieve everything from physical health to spiritual enlightenment. Yoga's goal is to help the student achieve a peaceful and composed state of mind, despite the agitated emotions and suffering inherent in the human condition. Practitioners call this a state of equanimity. Yoga teaches us to experience and acknowledge suffering without judgment or reaction. By letting our suffering be, we can let it go.

As a western mental and emotional health tool, yoga therapy is in the emerging stages. Its aim is the holistic treatment of multiple "psychological or somatic dysfunctions." Yoga therapy is used to treat everything from migraines to post-traumatic stress disorder. The Trauma Center, under the direction of Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, describes the main objectives of trauma recovery-focused yoga therapy: "to help participants feel comfortable in their bodies, to learn self-regulation skills, and to improve their ability to direct attention away from ruminative thought processes."

It is this goal self-regulation and comfort that Joyful Heart pursues in each yoga therapy session. Each retreat is staffed by a certified yoga teacher with a focus on a trauma-sensitive practice. Through the integration of yoga poses, breathwork and guided meditation, participants are able to experience the synergy of body, mind and spirit and the release that comes from time on the mat. Each yoga encounter offers the opportunity to come home to the self in a centered, joyful way.

Read more about some simple yoga poses you can teach yourself and practice daily in our DIY wellness feature on yoga in Reunion Issue No. 1.

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