What is Ki Yoga?
I can’t ignore what brought me to teaching yoga: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I also can’t ignore how I became well enough to teach to others: my own yoga practice and the use of subtle energy tools.
My therapist at the time was a big proponent of yoga. She felt that if anything brought me that much peace, I should be doing it as often as I can. However, there were times off the mat when I couldn’t manage my emotions. There were instances behind the steering wheel, in crowded public places, at work or alone at home when my triggers would sabotage the peace I was trying to maintain through my daily yoga practice. It was for those times off the mat that my therapist taught me subtle energy tools to circumvent the triggers and bring me back to homeostasis.
A little background on PTSD and why I think it applies to everyone…PTSD is the result of our mind and body not being able to ‘metabolize’ a particularly stressful experience. Without a way to process what one has been through, that stressor lodges itself in the mind/body and manifests over and over and over again in the form of triggers. For someone with true PTSD, these triggers can be loud sounds, crowded rooms, being alone, too much stress; it really just depends on the person.
Now, for the common person who doesn’t suffer from PTSD per se: think of the last time you had a particularly stressful day and how you responded to the world around you. Did you happen to get triggered in some way? How was your commute? How did you respond to your loved ones when you got home? My bet is you did get triggered. Even if you didn’t take it out on others, simply feeling irritated by insignificant things is a triggered response.
Whether you downplay or overemphasize your reactions, when you feel too much stress, you get triggered! And the truth is, stress manifests itself the same way in all of us, some of us just feel those effects more acutely and over a longer period of time. This is why I believe we are all on a stress spectrum. The overstressed businessperson and worked-to-the-bone stay-at-home mom are on the same spectrum as the person suffering from PTSD, only each feels their stress at a different level of severity.
“Disease is seen as arising from stress that causes a general reduction in life energy and specific energy imbalances through the body” –John Diamond, MD
So, many of us on that stress spectrum go to yoga to alleviate our stress…and let’s admit it, for a good workout too! But, how often have you arrived on your mat and your mind JUST WON’T STOP and the practice seems to do nothing to change it. Or as soon as you pick up your phone after class you arrive right back where you started in the middle of a proverbial ‘shit storm’ you still have no patience for. Sometimes the simple practice of yoga asana (the physical practice) just isn’t enough to truly alleviate, not just pause, the stress we’re experiencing in our lives.
Enter Ki Yoga.
Let’s first understand what Ki is. It’s an ancient concept that many civilizations over lifetimes have found to exist. My favorite definition is by William Lee Rand of www.reiki.org:
“Ki is the non-physical energy that animates all living things. Ki is flowing in everything that is alive including plants, animals and humans. When a person’s Ki is high, they will feel strong, confident, and ready to enjoy life and take on its challenges. When it is low, they will feel weak and are more likely to get sick. We receive Ki from the air we breathe, from food, sunshine, and from sleep. It is also possible to increase our Ki by using breathing exercises and meditation…Ki is also the Chi of China, the prana of India, the Ti or Ki of the Hawaiians, and has also been called odic force, orgone, bioplasma and life force.”
It was this energy that my therapist led me to learn more about and to eventually learn how to work with. Working with Ki energy, in those times my triggers sabotaged my peace, I became capable of managing my stress no matter the situation. It was the combination of the subtle energy tools off the mat with my yoga practice on the mat that brought me long-term wellbeing. And now, these two practices are no longer separate! I have added the subtle energy tools that work with Ki to the asana practice creating what I call Ki Yoga.
So, what is Ki Yoga?
One of the most significant ways to work with Ki, or the subtle body, is through Acupressure points, the Chinese Meridians and Applied Kinesiology practices. There are magical spots, if you will, on our body that act like release valves for stress and erratic energy. There are also movements, as well as points, that boost energy and/or stabilize us after a particularly stressful day of meetings and emails or babies crying. We supercharge our yoga practice by using these points and movements while in the yoga postures we know and love.
We can also increase our Ki through breathwork, touch, sounds and smells: by being wholly present through all our senses we bridge the mind/body gap that stress creates. This is why Ki Yoga includes diverse breath practices, offers hands-on adjustments, incorporates playlists built to harmonize with the energy of the given practice and aromatherapy applied in the savasana meditation.
Ki Yoga is the combining of two methods that powerfully heal the mind/body. I created this new form of yoga to empower others with tools and practices that not only heal, but stabilize and harmonize the mind/body on a day-to-day basis. You will not only feel the effects on the mat, but you’ll begin to build an arsenal of healthy tools you can use in those moments off the mat when stress sabotages your peace.
I share with you Ki Yoga: functional anatomy and alignment combined with subtle energy techniques to holistically harmonize mind/body.