This Is Yoga

By Jennifer Boileau

In yoga, we settle the mind by moving the body though the “8 limbs” of practice: asana (physical practice), pranayama (breath practice), yamas & niyamas (inner and outer observances) among other simple yet complex practices (pratyahara, dharana, dyana, samadhi). But “yoga” doesn’t have to include all of them, all the time. I taught a yoga nidra class (deep relaxation and meditation) recently and someone asked when we would “do the yoga part”. It’s a common misconception that it’s not yoga if you’re not in a warrior 2 position at some point. Sometimes your yoga can be the mindfulness you espouse during the day. Mindful of your thoughts, what you eat, how you interact with people…taking your yoga off the mat is more important to me than if you can bend yourself into a pretzel in the studio.

Recently, I was reminded in my own life how important yoga is off of the mat, and it had nothing to do with being in the four walls of the studio. It did have everything to do with being mindful of the breath, energy, and the way we communicate with each other, even if it doesn’t “look like it”. Our energy, thoughts and words are speaking volumes all the time. The electromagnetic field around us from our heart can even be felt by those near us – that’s a form of communication! If you’ve ever been near someone who is in a great mood, you can feel it. You might be energized by it, and want to be around that person more. Conversely, if that person is always miserable, complaining and negative, you might feel drained or even sick to your stomach when you’re around that person. Those feelings are real, and something to pay attention to.

I read a fantastic book a while back that resonated with me so deeply, and spoke to how things are happening even if it wasn’t in the way you expected. In the book, My Stroke of Insight, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor shares her own personal experience as a stroke survivor. She is a Harvard trained neuroanatomist who has a very interesting perspective on having a stroke, since studying the brain was her specialty. You can see her TED talk here. It is absolutely incredible hearing her experience firsthand, describing how she was unable to communicate in a way that we can easily recognize, but was still experiencing the world around her fully. It was her language that changed. It moved from a system of words and sentences (left brain) to energy, color and light (right brain). She spoke so eloquently about people who entered her room, and how those in a positive mood felt amazing to her, and her energy was drawn to them like a sunflower to the sun. But those who entered in a bad mood, in a hurry, or who treated her like an object on their “to do” list felt sickening to her, and her energy recoiled from them. She reminds us to be responsible for the energy you bring into a space, no matter where you are. This is yoga! I often share at the end of my yoga classes that I hope that the class served them well, and also that anyone they met would feel the yoga radiating from them. Consciously being aware of your energy isn’t only good for you, but for everyone around you. A line she shares in the book that stuck with me was, “I’m in here, come find me”. Reminding us that when someone is unable to communicate in a way we understand, they are still there and deserving of our love and attention.

I found myself coming back to that sentiment when a family member experienced a stroke, and was in a coma while the doctors tried to stabilize her. Verbal communication wasn’t an option anymore, so I decided to bring my crystal alchemy singing bowls to her hospital room and allow the energy from the pure quartz bowls to connect with her body energetically. Her language became energy alone. Quartz works to transfer and transmit energy within us because of the electromagnetic currents in our bodies allowing alignment of frequency. By chiming each singing bowl, her physical and energy body was being soothed by the enveloping sounds and frequencies. The quartz resonates with our physical body on a cellular level because we are made of vibration. Every living cell vibrates, and if you can accept that we are made of vibration, then you will see how sound can soothe and heal the body and mind. While I played the bowls, we noticed a slowing of her heart rate while the sounds filled the room, and I believe it was calming to not only her as the patient, but for the family present as well. Her doctors were fascinated by the bowls, the sounds, and by the healing quality of the quartz, and it didn’t take long for people to come to the room, to hear and feel the beautiful sounds. While the outcome wasn’t what we had hoped for, we know she was surrounded with the loving energy of everyone who entered the room. While a hospital room might not sound like a place for a yoga class, this was yoga. Creating intention, focusing our attention, calming our breath and heart rate, letting go of what no longer served us. That is yoga. It’s not always on a mat. It’s how you take it out into the world – that is the real gift.

What can you do if communication is difficult?
To me, the best thing to do is focus on the senses. As a former special education teacher, having students who were nonverbal, you need to be creative. My favorite saying was if the front door was locked, you’d need to go around back and see if the “back door” was open. There is always a way.

Touch -hold their hands, their feet, maybe rubbing lotion on their arms helping their circulation, allowing them to feel you there, comforted by your touch.

Taste -if they are able to eat, bring something that is a favorite, taste is such a powerful pick me up!

Smell -essential oils are perfect for calming and connecting to happy memories, favorite flowers,

Hearing -play soothing music, beach sounds, or their favorite songs, music triggers memories deep in the brain. Talk to them, let them hear your voice as you speak or sing gently to comfort them.

Sight -bring photos, flowers, artwork, colorful things, a light with a beautiful color…anything soothing to your loved one.


{Still need help? Email me or message me at and I’ll be happy to help brainstorm with you}

Jennifer Boileau

Jennifer Boileau

Jenn is a 200 E-RYT yoga and meditation teacher, reiki master, and crystal alchemy sound bath facilitator. She offers reiki sessions both in person and remotely. Jenn also performs reiki attunements for those seeking to become practitioners themselves, and accessible yoga classes for students of all ages and physical abilities. In these sessions, she uses the healing power of sound through pure quartz crystal singing bowls to take students on a journey of self-discovery, self-healing, and self-love. You can find Jenn on her website, on social media @flowwithjenn, or teaching classes locally.

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