The Cleansing Power of Yoga

This morning in my quiet time I was reflecting on the metamorphosis of two days of yoga teacher training at Sacred Space with Melody White as our guide/teacher/trainer, and how filling and cleansing it was.  Eyes closed, I visualized a fish tank I used to have, and suddenly I saw so many analogies appearing in my inner vision. My colorful Neon Tetras, Deluxe Guppies, Swordfish, and Mollies were swimming through the water, as thoughts darted through my mind.  The most vivid analogy, however, was of my periodic cleaning the grungy fish tank in the sink, running pure cleansing water from the kitchen faucet into the tank and over the top.

fish tank 2

The filtering system in my fish tank, for all practical purposes, kept the water clear and pure, but as I raked my fingers through the tiny gravels at the bottom of the tank, a surprising amount of gook arose, filling the previously clear water with leftover decaying fish feces, uneaten rotten fish food, and who knows what else? Maybe even some sloughed off epithelial cells made their way up and over the top under the powerful running water. The constantly running filter system in the tank sadly does not filter all the trash out.  Hunkering down amidst the gravel and tank art lurks unseen and undealt-with emotional trash.  Sometimes this microscopic trash has been hiding and blocking pure cleanliness for years.  Scum forms on the glass near the bottom of the tank, obscuring clear vision.  How wonderful and empowering to cleanse from the bottom up; all the unneeded old stuff goes up, out, over the top, and down the drain!

Yoga practice on my mat rakes its fingers through my fluidic body and mind, cleansing my being, floating my gunk to the surface to be dealt with.  Under the pure running tap water of Melody’s direction, as well as our guided breathing techniques directing the flow of breath and energy through our very cells, gunk is washed over the top of our fish tanks, and out, down the drain.  This energetic work, with expanding inhales and exhales, energy cleansing and ridding of toxins and toxic thoughts, fills me with purified energy.


At the beginning of “the process” (I don’t call it a “class” anymore), I step onto my mat sometimes with a lot of anxiety, all scattered, unfocused and ungrounded, akin to those air-filled balloon people you see at car lots, beckoning, flapping and waving back and forth in the wind.

Other times when I come to my mat, I am annoyed, confused, or despondent, stressing over something from the previous day or morning: worry over finances or what may happen or not happen in the future, some barbed comment that was aimed at me, some barbed comment I aimed at someone else, some failed goal I attempted, my weight, my health, the weather, clutter, unanswered correspondence, you get the picture. When I’m in my super-stress mode it may be worry over global warming, war, violence in the world, the national debt, human trafficking, poverty, abuse, addictions, taxes.  My monkey mind is in overdrive when I step onto my little piece of rubber mat, seeking relief.

Melody starts the process by having us do some prana building breaths (life force breaths), gathering energy in the form of simple and invisible air.  I’ve learned to place a high value on breathing now.  It used to be something I did unconsciously; air was just “there.” Now I am conscious of actually pulling life-giving breath into my lungs and very cells.  On our backs, we do cleansing breaths, then three-part breathing: inhaling into lower belly, rib cage, chest and shoulders.  After a few deep, calming, cleansing breaths, lying in stillness, I feel myself relaxing and feeling focused and grounded, in touch again.

The rest of the practice is filled with feel-good movement, with stretches and openings for hips, back, shoulders, hamstrings, twists, mandalas, and warrior poses.  My body feels as if I am swimming with the dolphins.  The process ends with soft music in a relaxing cool-down. I am keenly aware of my life-enhancing breaths.

At the end of the process, I step off my mat feeling lighter, cleansed, refreshed, encouraged, hopeful, and eager for life.

Thank you, Melody, for pouring yoga’s cleansing water through my fish tank gravel, and restoring me to my best self. I’m breathing much easier now.

Copyright 2018 Linda Parks. Used with Permission.

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