Accessing Our Pathways to Health

Our emotions are not only experienced in our mind and heart, but they are also felt and perhaps sometimes “held” in our body. The typical example is when we are under threat (whether real or perceived) and our body responds with increased heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, muscular tension, stress hormones and a mental acuity, all created to save us from the impending threat.  Once the threat episode has passed, we may actually experience a measure of mind/body fatigue ostensibly from having launched the “all hands-on deck” response to a stressor. Our body clearly generates an arsenal of responses that are, by design, meant to sustain life; however, the effects on the body post-threat can be lasting and health-impeding. Overtime, we can develop lifestyle-related diseases—heart disease, type II diabetes, some forms of cancer—resulting from frequent stressors that induce the physiological responses described. Methods for managing  stress responses include, but are not limited to, seeking cognitive behavioral therapy or social support, practicing mindfulness meditation, and engaging in prayer. These approaches engage the mind and emotions as an inroad to decreasing the incidence and impact of stressors on the body, and in so doing reducing the physiological wear and tear that ensues.  

In this bi-directional mind/body pathway, the body can be engaged as an inroad to the release of suppressed or “unfelt” emotions. It is not uncommon, for example, to experience a rise in emotions (even occasionally tears) in awareness-focused yoga classes. These are yoga classes that encourage user-appropriate movement with a main goal of caring for, connecting with, and celebrating the body as the vessel through which we live (not the competitive, contortionist-seeking yoga session).  Regular yoga participants who repeatedly experience emotional release during and after yoga sessions, reportedly begin to anticipate this emotional adjustment as they simply secure a comfortable position on their mat. Research involving cancer survivors participating in ten weeks of group yoga sessions resulted in improvements in emotional and spiritual well-being; see the chart below for the yoga participants' words when asked about their yoga experience. It is clear, we are intricate and integrated human beings with access to opportunities for self-care and improved well-being through the mind, body, and spirit.

Emerging Themes 


Sample Participant Statements


1. Peaceful

2. Tranquil

3. Opportunity for prayer

4. Spiritually connected

1.      Overall, I feel great! I am relaxed and not tired like I usually am. I am a spiritual person, so during the meditation—I pray.

2.      I feel absolutely wonderful on every level---peaceful, tranquil, diminished anxiety—and looking forward.


1.   Less anxiety

2.   More calm

3.   Less destress

4.   Better frame of mind

5.   Emotional well being

1.      I feel relaxed, rested, restored. A calm I am not used to feeling on a daily basis. It’s hard to describe but my best explanation would be that something has been lifted off my shoulders, my body and my mind are lighter.

2.      “Soo much better; calm emotionally and physically; especially spiritually more connected with all!”