Tucked away in a quaint complex behind Main Street in Westhampton Beach, Hamptons Yoga Healing Arts is a sacred space. Visitors find a spacious studio, its windows decorated with lush plants and its polished wood floors home to an array of soft-violet mats and cushions. Violet is the color of the brow, or third eye, chakra, representing perception beyond ordinary sight.
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There, Indy's own Christine John presents East End Zen, a class offering Reiki healing with restorative yoga. Recently we visited the sacred space to see what our multi-faceted graphic designer does when she's not in front of the computer.
"Reiki is light energy healing," John explained. Comprised of two Japanese words, Rei and Ki, it translates to universal life force energy. Although it's become popular on Long Island only in the last 10 years, Reiki traces its origins to a 2500-year-old Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Japanese scholar Mikao Usui is known as the founder of Reiki. He is credited with developing the healing modality in 1922.
"During the class, we focus on the chakras to educate about energy centers in our bodies. Once we have an understanding of what energy healing is, we use three resting yoga poses so everyone is completely relaxed. Then, I can channel light in a non-invasive way to replace illness with health," John explained.
To start the class, John dims the lights and directs members to lie with a yoga block to raise their heads. She uses a singing bowl to elevate the energy in the room and after guiding students to focus on their chakras, lovingly approaches each student to channel healing.
"It is alright if I touch you?" she whispered softly to this reporter. Given permission, she placed one hand on the side of the head, the other at the top of the shoulder, sending energy to the throat chakra, the seat of communication.
"The hands can tune in intuitively to where healing is needed," John explained after class. "As an advanced Reiki practitioner, I use my hands to read where the energy should go. I let my intuition flow."
Reiki healing is based on the principle that the practitioner can channel energy to the patient (or student) through light touch. The energy then activates natural healing processes to restore body, mind, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, John explained.
Each person's needs are different, each situation is different, so John guides her healing based on what she feels from the individual. She never asked this writer to describe physical or emotional needs, yet used instinct to zero in on a troubled area.
Pairing the healing with yoga poses provides optimal relaxation for class participants. "I love that Christine has combined the most relaxing yoga floor poses with a healing energy modality. It was a chance to meditate, stretch, and relax," said Bridget LeRoy, another class member and part of the Indy family.
"Last week a girl came to a yoga class first. She was very apprehensive and not open. She called Reiki 'voodoo,' but she decided to come to East End Zen. She fell asleep during the class and said that night she had the best night's sleep she could remember," John related.
A great night's sleep and enhanced relaxation are the most common benefits of Reiki. It can also encourage mental clarity, aid with pain management, and relieve stress, depression, or anxiety. Reiki has become a popular addition to substance abuse recovery programs.
East End Zen is held every Saturday at 4 PM at Hampton Yoga Healing Arts in Westhampton Beach. Call 631-702-3710 or visit www.hamptonsyogahealingarts.com to sign up for the class. Private sessions are also available.