Health Briefs

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Breathe In, Breathe Out

Yoga Contributes to Whole-Person Healing

by Kristin Smith

Breathe In, Breathe Out - Kristen Smith with client
Kristen Smith with client

It’s remarkable how many people go through life running on autopilot, not even thinking about breathing–an absolute necessity to survival.

Often, the reason for that is the person’s brain has wired itself to adapt to stressful or traumatic situations or events, and they are physiologically not able to function beyond the base level (i.e. into higher levels of thinking like having healthy relationships and problem solving). How can a person be expected to make important decisions when the brain is stuck in this "fight or flight" mode?

Fortunately, the brain has an incredible ability to change (neuroplasticity). It requires some effort but can contribute to whole-person healing. This healing can start with attention and mindfulness, which is then combined with movement, to help address the entire being.

One of the most important aspects of yoga is that it helps the mind become more aware of the breath and of the body. Yoga helps the practitioner focus on the body–in the present moment–and can even teach a person to notice and adjust the nuances within, in order to bring about incremental change.

By noticing what the body needs in each moment and making adjustments on the yoga mat, one can start to do the same with life off the yoga mat.

For example, when interacting in an unhealthy relationship a person may begin to notice feelings of discord (stress, tension, bitterness, etc). In this case, the relationship can be adjusted so the person experiences healing and fulfillment. But it starts with becoming more aware of one’s self.

In another example, a person may notice tension in the neck and shoulders when driving, especially if it’s in a location associated with a bad memory or traumatic event. Becoming aware of that sensation allows that person to alleviate the tension by seeking help to address the underlying issue(s).

Especially when beginning this process, its important to have one-on-one time with a knowledgeable instructor, bodywork to support the physical healing process and trained guidance for the psychological and spiritual aspects of the process. It takes time and discipline, but the benefits can be truly healing for one’s past, present and future.

Kristin Smith is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Techniques Certified Craniosacral Therapist and Medical Yoga Instructor. Her practice, Into the Light Healing and Bodywork, LLC, is located in Clarkston, MI.

For more information, call 810-441-6686, visit or view her Natural Directory listing at:

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