I got a question in my comment section if I could write a little bit about what effect tantric yoga has had on my health, and this made my head spin with ideas about what I should write because I think I have something to share and I am always happy to talk about my yogic and dharmic practice, it being a big part of my life. I wrote a post earlier this year about my health/illness, but I will just mention again what kind of health struggles I have to make a context.
So, in 2010 I came down with a serious viral infection (mononucleosis caused by Epstein-Barr virus) which left me very ill. I have had some health issues almost all my life (IBS, migraine, eczema), but this was a big blow to my immune system and gave me lots of symptoms: brain fog, muscles pain, headaches, worsening of IBS (more stomach problems), sleep problems, weight loss, hair loss, extreme fatigue, vision problems, terrible memory, numbness in certain areas of my body, dizziness, mood swings, adrenal exhaustion, thyroid imbalance, dry itchy skin, cold extremities….the list goes on, but lets just leave it at that 🙂 Losing my energy and health also made me lose most of my social life/relationships and this of course made me very isolated. So no doubt it affected my mental health/mood as well.
In 2011 I started doing physical yoga, more specifically hatha yoga. I signed up for a course in town and I remember feeling really good afterwards! It was like I found back to an old activity I had done many times before. I loved the asanas (poses/movements) and the pranayama (breathing exercises), and I came in touch with my body for the first time in….well, forever. What is also so great about physical yoga is that you work with the body and not pushing it too much like you would pumping iron in the gym. I adopted the exercises to my daily routine, even if I was bedbound I could do something simple like yoga nidra (systematically going through and relaxing the body in your mind) or just moving hands or feet to make the blood flow.
I did hatha yoga on and off for many years, until I stumbled upon awakening and tantric yoga in January 2016. It was quite different from the yoga I had been doing so far; mostly focusing on the body and not so much the mind. As I understand tantric yoga in my own experience, you work with mantras and vizualisations to transform the dualistic mind. You ‘invite’ energy into your body, mind and aura through specific practices so that karmic imprints, patterns and subconscious mindstates can be processed and thus cleared. This sounds strange at first, at least I thought so. But still, there was no doubt that it worked, and still does, as I do the practice every day.
After I started doing tantric yoga, the illness has been easier to handle; it’s like I see it from a very different perspective because doing these kinds of energetic practices transforms a lot of my feelings around the illness, but also deeper stuff. And as the lid of fear and feelings about being ill slowly has been lifted, the illness itself is easier to address. It is also my belief that chronic illness is not necessarily forever. “Chronic” means “long term”, and I don’t think or hope I will have these health issues for the rest of my life. I also think that the practices has a direct impact on transforming how the illness acts in the body, as I have felt lighter and not as fatigued after starting tantric practice.
When it comes to long term illness and dharmic/yogic practice, I’m going to very cliché and say that balance is key. If you feel too sick some days to practice for 2 hours then maybe 15 minutes is enough. But I feel it is very important to do at least a little bit every day, not lose practice completely (which I have in some periods) and to always keep in mind why you are doing it. I often think about my own motives for doing anything, perhaps sometimes also overthinking it, but I feel when it comes to this, it is becoming easier to find the discipline to practice as the years pass because I see the benefits and my motivation is simple and clear: I wish to get well so that I may benefit others. And I don’t wish to be ill anymore.