Sunday, April 26, 2009

this is not a post about Yoga Therapy

This is not a post about yoga therapy, although I've seen quite a few of those in my rss feed lately.  This is a post about why I think yoga can be good therapy, an adjunct to therapy, or simply an alternative to therapy.  Now, as a social worker I'm biased, and after class yesterday I made my facebook status "Still Dreaming thinks that sometimes yoga is better than therapy" (note the sometimes).  I firmly believe in the importance of talking things out.  Of course, I'm also a big talker, so it makes sense.  

I went to yoga Saturday for the first time in a month (I've been too sick) and while I was thinking of nothing but my breath, I had quite a few thoughts and made some interesting connections.  

For starters, at Yoga, the teacher always says that they are "guiding us through the practice".  I love that line, they're not teaching, they're guiding, we're the ones doing the work.  That's how I've thought of therapy both as client, and counselor.  The therapist is the guide.  They help the client do the hard work.  

Yoga is about where you are at in the moment.  It's not about the future, it's not about the past.  It's about accepting where you're at that day and that time.  It's about pushing yourself, yes, but it's also about listening and connecting with your body and only doing as much as you are able on any given day.  This is an important life lesson, one that can certainly be learned through therapy as well.  

Yoga is about centering yourself and finding those connections.  Therapy too can teach centering, connection, calmness etc.  In yoga we breath deeply and together, it's like the relaxation exercises learned in therapy, combined with the cardio that's recommended to destress and boost seratonin.  

Finally, practice improves things, and creates body memory.  Moksha Yoga, the kind of yoga I go to right now, is a set series of asanas, so things are almost always in the same order.  Even though I hadn't been in a month, my body knew.  It knew what was next, it knew where my hands went, it knew what to do.  The same thing can be true with the skills a person learns in therapy.  You practice and practice, you might not use them for a while, but then when you need them, they're still there.  I'm a little sore today, after yesterday's class, and the same way, it might be a bit hard when you have to pull them out again, but it is so, so worth it.  

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