Yoga And The Healing Power Of Touch
Over the years I’ve endured emotional hardships that have left me feeling a deep sense of loneliness and longing. At times, I believe it manifested itself physically in my body. I would feel tension, aches, and pains on a regular basis. During those times, it seemed the only thing to comfort me was the soothing power of basic human touch. For me, touch became a connection on a spiritual level, something much deeper than simple physical contact.
While many people can relate to these feelings, there are a number of other factors that create feelings of loneliness. Advances in technology can produce a sense of isolation as more and more people are working alone from home and lack any real form of human connection during the day. The prevalence of social media, while there are benefits, fosters superficial relationships that lack meaningful contact in the physical world. For these reasons, there is a growing need for human connection.
Where does this need for connection come from and why is the human touch so powerful?
The power of touch
The need for physical touch and human connection stems from infancy. According to the Dalai Lama in a talk given to the Society for Neuroscience:
The compelling evidence from neuroscience and medical science of the crucial role of simple physical touch for even the physical enlargement of an infant’s brain during the first few weeks powerfully brings home the intimate connection between compassion and human happiness.
The evidence is clear that human connection fosters a sense of belonging and happiness. To further emphasize this point, studies of older adults prove that social connection extends life.
What I began noticing in my yoga classes is that I felt much more connected to myself and those around me when I experienced the gift of touch during my classes. Feelings of loneliness and isolation dissipated. The touch I’m referring to comes in the form of an assist or adjustment. The most powerful forms of touch are not the assists the aim to “correct” your asana. While these assists are very important to understanding proper alignment, they are more practical in nature. The assists that help you move deeper into a pose and enhance relaxation are the physical connections that have had the most impact on me.
The gentle, physical contact takes me back to the feelings of safety and security I knew as a child for a brief moment in time. To the time in infancy when you are pure joy, living as your authentic self before the experiences of the world layered themselves on our hearts. For a moment in time, the power of touch brings you back to your pure, authentic self- your inner light illuminated for all to see. I am so moved during a yoga class when a teacher takes the time to massage my feet during savasana. It is such a humble act of service and allows my body to relax in a way I could not on my own. This act of kindness and generosity beautifully demonstrates the spiritual connection of touch.
Try it out
For those struggling in life, who are feeling disconnected from themselves and others, I encourage you to seek out a yoga practice that offers you a meaningful sense of connection through the power of touch. Explore local studios and take classes with different teachers to find a connection that resonates with you. The energy felt through human connection and touch manifests itself as love. When we experience this energy, we are more likely to go out into the world and share that feeling with others. In healing ourselves, we can heal others- one touch, one connection at a time. Spreading love to all we meet.
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