About Yoga & Its Role in a Mindfulness Practice

Meditation.jpgA 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.

About the Ears

anatomyThe ear can be divided into three sections, the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. Hearing loss or pain in the outer or middle ear is often easy to treat. However, when our hearing sensory organ—the cochlea—in the inner ear is damaged, permanent hearing loss is the result. This is also known as sensori-neural hearing loss. Inside the cochlea we have these fragile hair cells, or cilia, that take an electrical signal and convert this to a chemical signal. This chemical signal is then transmitted to the auditory nerve and sound processing centers in the brain. The hair cells are laid out from low to high frequencies, much like the keys of a piano go from low to high notes. When this strip of hair cells is rolled into the cochlea, high frequency hair cells, the ones closest to the  the cochlea’s opening, are the ones most exposed to potential injury. This is why we usually lose our hearing up in the higher frequencies as we age. Once these tiny hair cells are damaged, hearing loss is the inevitable result.

Can Hearing Aids Help?

Hearing aids are helpful for some people suffering with tinnitus. Theories describing the onset of tinnitus explain how the tinnitus sound occurs in the frequencies that are lost. Therefore, a hearing aid may help: 1) it gives us more sound stimulation, and 2) it allows more sound to enter the ear, providing the ear and brain with enough stimulation so that tinnitus is not triggered. Your audiologist can fit you with hearing aids to see if using them could be helpful.