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Power Healing Through Yoga, Meditation, and Reiki

An interview with Alex Durham

As we ring in the excitement of 2020, many of us are giving serious thought to our goals for wellness. One of my own goals is to learn the art of meditation. I interviewed Alex Durham, a yoga, meditation, and reiki practitioner.

How did you become a yogi?

22 years ago, I was living in London. I was so stressed working at a fast pace in the fashion industry, I needed balance in my life. I was working out at the gym, but I was still extremely stressed. It's funny how your Mother knows best, she said to me I needed to pull my energy in rather than spending my energy outward. My Mother suggested I take a yoga class, and I loved it. I was lucky enough to end up in a class with an excellent teacher who was previously a dancer. She really drew me in, and I had an experience that was beyond anything I had ever experienced at the gym. It could have gone the other way, I was lucky to end up in this teacher's class. You have to find a teacher that you love and can resonate with. After this first class, I knew this new yoga was for me. There were so many different classes to explore, restorative yoga, yin yoga, and pranayama (breathwork), it was exciting to try the various disciplines.

What benefits did you see beyond the mental clarity?

In addition to the mental clarity, physically it is whole-body conditioning, toning, and definition in addition to mental benefits. Many people start yoga because they want to change their bodies, but when they begin experiencing mental benefits, they realize that it is so much more than just physical transformation. That is where they get hooked because yoga is really for the mind to forget the body. The body just does its own thing, it's along for the ride. The body does get a full workout. Yoga means union, mind, body, and spirit. Practicing yoga keeps you in alinement, you are grounded, your thoughts aren't scattered, you have clarity, and you are more in control of your stress. You can step behind your thoughts and approach stress from a different center.

How does meditation work?

Mindfulness meditation is a guided meditation, its three main steps are awareness, acceptance, and non-judgement. I like to start with breathwork, Alternate Nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana). The breath will keep you present as the breath can only be now at this moment in time. Guided meditation practice is an excellent way to begin your practice, and that could be taking a class or an app on your phone. Remember to start with a short session and gradually build up that time, consistency is great to develop the practice.

Meditation and the brain research has been rolling in steadily for years now, with new studies coming out just about every week to illustrate some unique benefit of meditation. The practice appears to have a fantastic variety of neurological benefits, from changes in grey matter volume to reduced activity in the 'me' centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions. Evidence also suggests that meditation helps relieve our subjective levels of anxiety and depression and improve attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being. 

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a therapy often described as palm healing or hands-on body healing. A Reiki practitioner places hands lightly on or over a patient's body to facilitate the patient's process of healing. Reiki combines the Japanese and Chinese word characters of 'rei' and 'ki' vital energy.

Our body is composed not only of physical elements such as muscles, bones, nerves, arteries, organs, glands, etc. It also has a subtle energy system through life force energy flows. This ingenious energy system is composed of energy bodies that surround our physical body and assist us in processing our thoughts and emotions. The energy bodies have energy centers called chakras, which work like wheels that allow life force to circulate through the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies. We also have energy meridians and nadis. These are like rivers or streams which carry our life force energy throughout our physical body, to nourish us and assist in balancing our bodies systems and functions. Our physical body is alive because of the life force energy that is flowing through it; if our life force is low or blocked, we are more likely to get sick. Still, if it's high and free-flowing, we more easily maintain health and a feeling of well-being. One thing that disrupts and weakens the flow of life force energy is stress. Stress is often caused by conflicting thoughts and feelings that get lodged in the subtle energy system. These include fear, worry, doubt, anger, anxiety, etc.

Reiki is a technique that helps the body in releasing stress and tension. Creating deep relaxation promotes healing and health. It gently and efficiently opens blocked meridians, nadis, and chakras, and clears the energy bodies, leaving you feeling relaxed and at peace.

Alex Durham offers both private and group classes at Montage Laguna Beach, Miraval Spa Monarch Beach resort, and Align Pilates San Juan Capistrano. Call (949) 280-6534 or email alex@oursattva.com.

Common Yoga Poses

The Warrior is great pose for developing strength in the legs and finding stability by keeping the hips in a balanced position. Align your feet so the front foot’s heel is in line with the arch of the back foot. Keeps the arms out at shoulder height and gaze out over the front fingers. Be sure to keep the front knee above the ankle, the back leg straight and the torso upright.

The Triangle Pose, or Trikonasana, is a standing yoga pose that tones the legs, reduces stress, and increases stability. The name refers to the triangular shape created by your body in the full version of the pose. It is a good stretch for the hamstrings and side body. More than just a simple stretch, the triangle pose improves overall balance and stability, both physically and mentally.

The Downward-Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, is one of yoga's most widely recognized poses. It is a mild inversion that calms the nervous system, relieves stress, and offers the ultimate all-over, rejuvenating stretch. Pay attention to your breathing and use your inhale and exhale to focus your attention. Be sure to go slowly and always listen to your body’s limits.

If you are ready to dabble in the world of arm balances, the Crow Pose, or Bakasana, is a good place to start. This pose is great for strengthening your upper arms, forearms, and wrists. It will also improve your stability by strengthening your core, leading to improved balance and full-body coordination.

Remember to stay within your own limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.