Energy Medicine Yoga is essentially grooming the body’s energies, the way snow machine operators groom snow on a mountain. It helps us make sure the body’s energies are awake and moving, that they are running forward and not backward (a very common occurrence), and that the energy systems of the body are coordinated and organized. Some of the energy systems require clearing, like blowing out a kitchen drain blocked by grease. Some of them require holding and rocking, like calming a screaming baby. Some of them require gentle tapping and smoothing, like puttying over a hole in a wall. Some of them require deep-pressure massage, like pressing a ball of pie dough into a pie tin. Some of them require weaving together, like darning a hole in a sock.
I know from my own experience that if the body’s energies are balanced, if they have space and room to move, and if they are being supported by intelligent practices, there is nothing we can’t handle. Combining the two powerful paradigms of yoga and energy medicine had helped me shift out of some deeply embedded and unsatisfying patterns that were holding me back and draining my energy. And as I’ve taught Energy Medicine Yoga to others, many of my students tell me they were able to do the same things.
Part of the development of Energy Medicine Yoga came from my time teaching at Norwich University, the oldest private military college in the country. As I saw the effects this practice had on the men and women preparing to serve our country, I determined that I wanted to offer it to as many deploying soldiers as possible. Using the template of the eight-week basic training that every soldier undergoes, I designed a program to give these Energy Medicine Yoga tools to people about to face some of the most intensely stressful situations possible.
Even if the students thought of it as just stretching, they had some idea, because yoga has infiltrated the mainstream. To a T, those with limited knowledge were blown away by how Energy Medicine Yoga helped them to release stress, to get more done in their days, and to succeed in their goals in a more easeful way. They also commented on how their relationships improved. They thought they would stretch, which they did. But they did not know that they would learn how to breathe, how their bodies worked, how their minds worked, and how to change both the body and the mind with a directed, intelligent, and easy-to-learn practice.
Every yoga book will tell you that the word yoga itself means “union” — literally, “to yoke,” to bring two disparate things together. In the yoga context, this initially means bringing together movements of the breath and the body. Later, as you go deeper in the yoga practices, it means bringing together the body and the mind.
But as I was writing the introduction for my book, Energy Medicine Yoga, I found in one of my notebooks from the many workshops I’ve taken with my yoga teacher, Rod Stryker, a definition that held much more meaning. Yoga, in its ultimate context, means to merge with that part of us that is unchanging, universal, and omniscient. Yoga is a science both of being and of becoming, and how I, as the practitioner, can influence the direction of change. It helps us to answer the constant question, what next?
That understanding of yoga is at the heart of Energy Medicine Yoga: it is the practice of influencing the direction of our body’s energy patterns in order to create positive change.
Energy medicine is prevalent in our world, and encompasses many different paradigms. Acupuncture, tai chi, ultrasound, Reiki, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), laser surgery, and radiation therapy are all forms of energy medicine. But the model of energy medicine that we’ll follow in this book comes from my energy medicine teacher, Donna Eden: “Energy medicine is the art and science of fostering physical, psychological, and spiritual health and well being. It combines a rational knowledge and intuitive understanding of the energies in the body and in the environment. . . . By focusing on your body as a living system of energy, you begin to realize that powerful energy technologies are already inherent in your hands and in your being.”
Energy, for our purpose, is the capacity to perform work and an internal power used to produce an effect. In Energy Medicine Yoga, we use the power of energy, aligned with its healing principles, to harness our own life force and both transform ourselves to our highest good and accept ourselves in our innate perfection.
Adapted from Energy Medicine Yoga: Amplify the Healing Power of Your Yoga Practice by Lauren Walker. Copyright © 2014 by Lauren Walker. To be published by Sounds True in October 2014. Pre-order on Amazon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lauren Walker is a teaching assistant for Donna Eden as well as a certified energy medicine practitioner and a senior student of Para Yoga creator Rod Stryker. She started the yoga program at Norwich University and now teaches Energy Medicine yoga internationally. She lives in Montana. Visit lkwalker.com.