The Enlightening Mat: The Courage to Heal Using Interruption

Rogue River, Oregon, Beth Hemmila

One of the things that draws me to Bikram yoga is the number of people who are pretty vocal about how they have used this practice to heal their lives. Some people gravitate to Bikram yoga for physical healing from injury or illness to the body, but an inordinate amount come to recover from silent afflictions such as addictions, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), physical and sexual abuse, depression, etc. When lying next to another person during yoga class, you just never know what circumstances have brought them to this place, and often I find myself imagining how much courage they've mustered up to be there beside me.

To have experienced physical or emotional trauma is shocking enough, but to me the healing process is much more painful. Think back to the last time you burned your hand. The moment you were singed was probably a bit of surprise, but it's the throbbing pain that goes on for days as you are nursing the wound that actually puts your state of well-being to the test.

The brain in an effort to avoid future injury repeatedly inscribes a painful experience like burning your hand over and over in your mind as a form of self-protection. This magnificent organ doesn't only apply this concept to physical trauma but uses it on emotional pain as well. Repeating negative thoughts is one way we seek to protect ourselves from potential hurt or danger.

Rogue River, Oregon, Beth Hemmila

Bikram yoga has been one way that I have learned how to interrupt negative thinking so as to develop the courage to heal emotional trauma. By using extreme focus to connect with my body or letting go of all thoughts during meditative poses, I am returning my brain to its most natural state of being -- emptiness. Continually experiencing freedom from mental stress is its own form of exercise. As the brain begins to recognize how much better you feel, gradually it turns to this way of being more and more often in your life.

Interrupting your negative thoughts. Catching your thoughts before they tangle you up in an emotional landslide that spin your life out of control is one of the greatest tools for staying present and connected to yourself. For centuries, ancient yogis have used yoga, meditation, and mantras to interrupt what you want to believe is most real so as to stay open to what is most essential.

My book Lemonade Mantras applies a modern approach to interrupting negative thinking by asking the reader to create a personalized recipe of positive thoughts that question the validity of your brain's perception so as to rescript the story in your head and replace it with the one in your heart.

The Enlightening Mat is a blog series exploring moments of awareness that come to Beth Hemmila while practicing Bikram Yoga

To shop for yoga charms that celebrate the different poses click here to view this blog post Sterling Silver Charms for Bikram Yoga Postures


  1. This post really resonated with me. I never really thought about the pain of healing before, but you are exactly right. I haven't been following your blog for all that long, but I really love it.

  2. so incredibly true - you are a wonder... insightful and open... i am always better for having come here... thank you for sharing about bikram - i was thinking about signing up for gaiam tv and will see if bikram is offered... you give me so much to think about beth - for that i am grateful...

  3. Thanks ladies! I'm so glad it opened you up to new things about yourself and the concept of healing.


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