Patricia Gray, the founder of Yoga Gallery, started getting into yoga when she was 15 years old living with her family in Joplin, Missouri. In the course of her life and her practice, she has seen how yoga can help the entire mind, body, and soul.
Patricia had an interest in meditation and yoga as a teenager, and found that they fit her introspective personality. They made her feel more peaceful, even in a loud household. She chose to pursue her practice through study at Maharishi College.
Years later, after deciding to leave her corporate job, Patricia found her way back to yoga. In Kansas City at that time, there were only a few yoga teachers, but she found a deep connection with one teacher and studied closely with her. It was at that point that Patricia began to see all the effects and benefits of yoga.
Since her childhood, she had dealt with symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, but with her renewed practice, those symptoms ended. She began to have regular periods and her body healed.
The changes she experienced gave her the motivation to become a teacher. She wanted to spread the message of health and well-being. Our bodies are amazing and they have the power to heal when we treat them properly. Her method for caring for the body is yoga. To teach yoga, she joined a co-op of teachers in Westport, then in 1999 she opened her own studio in the Crossroads district of Kansas City. After owning and operating Yoga Gallery in several different spaces, Patricia sold the studio and now continues to work there as a yoga teacher.
Patricia says, “Our physical bodies have a shelf-life. But with yoga and all the other wonderful healing techniques like chiropractic, and massage therapy, we have the ability to expand that shelf-life of our time on this planet. So with yoga, it has this inherent ability to make our joints more pliable. It helps our organ centers do their function like they were intended. If they’re nurtured, they’re taken care of, they’re given good oxygen exchange through the movements of yoga, we have the opportunity to have all of the organ centers work to their functional potential, like a blueprint intended. Working with yoga requires that we have our mind quiet, we are attentive to our breathing, we have balance, flexibility, focus, mind, breath, all coming together. The word yoga in Greek is “yoke,” to bring together.”
She explains that bringing together the areas of breathing, balance, flexibility, and focus helps us understand and be in tune with our bodies. Because yoga works with the body, mind, and soul, it can provide many benefits. In interviews with elite runners, they explain that yoga helps calm their mind with mindfulness, it helps them stretch and prepare their bodies for a race, and it helps them be aware of their bodies.
Another benefit that Patricia has seen in her own life that she attributes to yoga is not having the cold, flu, or bronchitis for 11 years. For most of us colds and the flu are a normal winter occurrence. She got so sick in 2004 that she ended up with bronchitis. Then the same thing happened in 2005, while she was also grieving the death of her mother. The bronchitis happened again in 2006. Patricia began to think that this was just how life would be.
But then there was a change. She returned to her practice and as she was attentive to her breathing, she began to heal her lungs. And she also could feel that yoga was helping her to heal her grief about the loss of her mother and other emotional wounds. As she gave time and effort to healing, her body was able to heal, and she has not had bronchitis or even a cold or the flu since 2006. That’s 11 years!
In addition to understanding the benefits on our physical body, it makes the joints pliable and helps our organs function, Patricia says yoga helps us to be in tune with our bodies. That means that we can feel and understand the signals our body is sending us and we know how to take care of our body.
For her, that means that she knows the first little signs of a cold coming on. If she feels them, she stops and listens. She takes some vitamin C, she drinks an extra glass of water, and she takes a nap. These small steps are enough to stop the cold and keep her healthy.
But the key is that Patricia has learned to listen to her body through her yoga practice, and she teaches her students to do the same thing. I encourage my clients to be still and listen to their body, and yoga gives us time and space to get still and listen. Yoga can also help us understand how our body is connected to our mind and spirit and how our symptoms are connected.
Listening to your body is a small change that can lead to a big shift in your life. Put the odds in your favor by listening to your body. One way to start the practice of listening is to do yoga. Start small with just a few poses, and make sure you breathe. You can also use my Body Talk assessment that is available in my free ebook, Small Changes, Big Shifts to start listening.