A practice of yoga is an important part of any mindfulness practice. Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means “to yoke” and can be viewed as a moving meditation linking or yoking our awareness of the body’s movements and sensations with the mind. So we practice gentle yoga postures, linking the breath with each movement. Breathing in deeply with each posture, we notice the world of sensations felt in our bodies. This often is an opportunity to notice the mind’s habitual reactions to the pleasant, unpleasant, and/or neutral sensations we feel in any given moment. The tendency to want certain postures to end, the judging of one’s performance, the comparisons to others or to yourself at a different moment in time are noticed and observed as just activities of the mind. We bring awareness to the habitual clinging to these thoughts and automatic reactions as we gently and lovingly return our attention to the breath, to the body’s posture in the present moment. We observe whatever is there to be felt.
There are many different kinds of yoga, from Bikram Yoga to Ashtanga to Flow and Restorative Yoga. People often come to a specific type to address chronic pain, for relaxation, or to cope with stress. What these practices all have in common though is the coming together of the mind, the breath, and the body in a practice of bringing awareness to the present moment.
The word yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning “yoke,” as in linking two things together. In the case of yoga, it is the yoking of the mind and the body. With each yoga pose, we bring awareness to immediate body sensations, using the breath as a guide, while keeping the mind calm, focused, and stable.
The unpleasant nature of the tinnitus sensation—and the seeming lack of control a person has over it—can foster a dislike and distrust of one’s own body. Feelings of anger, guilt, fear, and blame may arise with this feeling of lack of control. After a while, it is not uncommon for person to feel helpless, disconnected, and just “cut off” from their own bodies.
Yoga is an important teaching tool in any mindfulness practice, especially for those feeling cut off. With each movement of the body and with every pose, using the breath to ground us in moment-to-moment sensations, yoga is the practice of building awareness and acceptance of the present moment, whether a body sensation is sensed as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. We observe and explore how all body sensations change. For the person with tinnitus, practice with tuning into the sensations of the body lays the groundwork for the person to re-connect with what has been a dis-connection. When the re-connection is re-established, the person with tinnitus can then choose a wise response to explore the tinnitus sensation without the fear, dis-trust, and dis-like that may have been preventing the linking of mind and body.
Yoga is a practice of coming back: reconnecting, befriending, and “yoking” the mind with one’s own body.