Yoga is much more than a physical practice. It is a transformative art and science. I thought, no better person to discuss this with than my wife, Jude Monteserrato, who is a 500 hour certified Yoga Instructor with over 2,000 hours of alignment based training. She described three ways that yoga helped her transform after a tragic event. Jude lost her partner of 15 years on September 11, 2001. John worked in the World Trade Center, she worked across the street. After his death for a year and a half, “I was swimming around in the trauma, the sadness, the anxiety, not sleeping, not eating”. At that point after observing herself in the mirror Jude made a decision to make some changes. “The thought of yoga popped into my head”. She then thought how is that going to help me at this time. Her vision of yoga was sitting in a room and OMming. Being a New Yorker and working in the city she had a Type A personality and wanted to work out at the gym. Yoga was the furthest thing from her mind. However she listened to that little voice within her that whispered “try yoga’. “At that point, I feel it was my soul guiding me, my spirit, my heart”.
Jude found a yoga class at her gym with a phenomenal teacher.
She began attending classes sitting in the back corner, dressed in very dark colors with a hood pulled over her head. Her teacher kept his distance to give her her space. She didn't know the poses however, the first time she tried to do Downward Facing Dog or just sitting still was a challenge. “What I did notice was it brought me to the present moment. The story I kept repeating in my head that caused the sadness was silent”. That’s when she got hooked on the transformative practice of yoga.
3 Benefits of Yoga
1.) Awareness of your body and mental chatter, the story and the words you are speaking to yourself.
2.) Connection with your feelings. Jude realized how much grief she was holding in her body and how much her heart was closed from John’s death. Backbends were the most difficult poses for her at that time but the most beneficial because it helped open her heart. “I realized the more I did it, I started opening and when I would get in my car after practicing the tears would flow”. It’s important to know that our emotions and trauma are held in our body.
3.) Learning about Yourself. “I began going deeper and deeper and learning about me and my soul, and looking at my childhood, life and the trauma I went through”. Using the tools that yoga provided helped Jude become who she is today, and she continues to use these tools.
All of you at some point in your life will have to deal with some sort of a physical or emotional challenge. Yoga can be an effective vehicle to support you on your healing journey. Embracing a regular yoga practice can be a transformative practice for men, offering a myriad of physical, mental, and emotional benefits. From enhanced flexibility and strength to improved stress management and mindfulness, yoga empowers men to cultivate a holistic sense of well-being. By breaking free from societal stereotypes and embracing the inclusive nature of yoga, men can discover a powerful tool for self-discovery and self-care. So, roll out your mat, breathe deeply, and embark on a path that not only strengthens your body but also nurtures your mind and spirit. Many blessings to you.