I had my first yoga-made-me-cry experience in a jam-packed New York City studio. At the time, I was new to the practice, showing up for twice-weekly classes because I thought the stretching would complement my triathlon training. Yet when I found myself holding Sleeping Pigeon Pose for what seemed like an eternity, the warm, salty tears that flowed down my cheeks were a sign that yoga was going to stretch me in ways I didn’t expect.
Those tears—and whatever was behind them—opened my mind to the possibility that there was a whole world within me I had yet to discover. Most yogis have similar stories of emotional outpouring on their mats, and for many, it’s a realization that the physical practice of yoga asana has a deeper, subtler layer and that tapping the energy stored there may be the key to real healing.
That’s where subtle-energy therapies come into play. “Just as yoga works on a structural, energetic, and emotional level to help us connect to the source—whether you call it god, spirit, or kundalini—energy-healing modalities aim to guide people back to a sense of belonging with that source,” says Susan Manchester, an intuitive healer in Boulder, Colorado, who practices biodynamic craniosacral therapy and the Rolf Method of Structural Integration. “Ideally, energy healing helps you come home to your body and connects you in a more profound way with your true Self.” Maria Villella, an acupuncturist and yoga teacher in Los Angeles, adds that yogis often have a head start when it comes to experiencing the benefits of these therapies. “With any healing modality, the more you’re able to put yourself in a deeply relaxed state, the more benefits you’ll receive,” she says.
From acupuncture and Reiki to intuitive counseling and craniosacral therapy, modalities once viewed as “alternative” are becoming increasingly mainstream. Yet choosing one that will work best for you can be daunting. Here’s a guide to help you home in on those that will enable you to explore the deeper layers within you, and as Manchester puts it, ultimately come home to your Self.
How to Get the Most From Your Treatment
No matter what energy-healing modality you choose, there are a few tips to keep in mind in order to make the most of your treatment and experience the best results.
Avoid doing too many therapies at once.
If you’re getting four or five treatments every week, how can you tell what’s helping? You probably can’t. “When patients do this, I also worry that they’re not giving their bodies enough time to really absorb what’s going on,” says Gail Dubinsky, MD, a physician and yoga teacher in California.
Support your treatment with lifestyle changes.
Even if you feel you’ve landed on the best-matched therapy for you, supplementing your treatment by looking at your diet, exercise routine, and how you handle stress is crucial, says Dubinsky. “That’s how you’ll see lasting benefits.”
Boost the benefits of these therapies with your yoga practice.
Not only can your time on the mat and meditation cushion help you clue in to how well these modalities are working for you, but your practice can also help you drop in more fully and deeply when you’re experiencing them, says acupuncturist Villella. “I have noticed in my clinical practice that serious yoga practitioners tend to get really quick results,” she says. “Yoga helps quiet the mind. When that mental calm happens during an energy-healing therapy, it can be optimally effective.”
See also Yoga Therapy