What is Yoga Therapy and why do it?
Yoga as therapy has been sourced back to the very first sighting of Yoga ever being mentioned in writing – in India’s ancient Sanskrit texts of Patanjali. There, Yoga was described as “a methodology to achieve the end of suffering.” Yoga therapy as we know it today is used to address both physical and mental concerns. Through tailored combinations of yoga poses, meditation, breathing exercises, sounds/ words/ affirmations (mantra), and/or Yoga philosophy, Yoga therapy is used to ameliorate symptoms of everything from depression and anxiety, trauma and loss, eating disorders and addictions, to helping improve emotional regulation, concentration, communication, digestion, a sense of well-being, and more. A yoga therapist thus takes the tools and technologies of yoga and tailors them to meet your specific individual needs and goals. At Grater Therapy Group (GTG), we further the process by adding the psychotherapy part– talking, exploring, reflecting, discovering, integrating — for a complete whole-person approach.
How does yoga make change happen?
As we practice yoga – poses, breath work or meditation, we affect the nervous system, the respiratory system and the endocrine system. Changes in these systems then impact how we feel, think, and behave. We feel better – more calm, more centered, less triggered, less agitated; we think better – more clearly and with more neutrality, broader perspective. We learn to take pause, so instead of reacting, we have the opportunity to respond, to have choice. We become more present. Then, through the psychotherapy part, we get to platform off of these changes through introspection, reflection, identification of patterns, and learning to stay curious. We can then integrate the new practices and learnings by creating new habits and maybe some lifestyle changes in an ongoing way.
Why do Yoga Therapy?
It goes without saying that we are in very unsettling times. Living with so many unknowns, for so long, is fraying our nerves. Literally. Our nerves need help. Symptoms such as forgetfulness, difficulty focusing, anxiety, depression and panic attacks have become more and more prevalent. People are overwhelmed. And sometimes, we simply can’t heal the mind with the mind alone.
Even before the pandemic and before the political unrest we’ve experienced these past several years, our culture, especially east coast culture, especially NYC culture, is exceedingly “heady.” We tend to analyze everything (a lot!), deify thinking (over feeling), and live in our minds. We prioritize doing over being, effort over ease, busy over breathing. Many of us find ourselves in a constant flux of doing, doing, doing. We have confused “busying” with being. We may feel lost. (Because we’re not here). And we may start to wonder: when do I get to just BE? We are, after all, human BEINGS not human doings.
At GTG Yoga therapy we learn to BE. We get a chance to come into our bodies, into our breath, into the present moment. Truly. And it’s a relief. But it’s not always easy. Especially if we’ve been trained to honor the mind above the body, thinking over feeling, and live in the planning. So in Yoga therapy, we learn to come into ourselves. We learn to be curious about what is. And in this state of felt-sense, present-moment curiosity, we can discover the gifts of who we are.
How does Yoga Therapy work at GTG?
Honestly, most GTG clients who do Yoga therapy, do it as part of traditional talk therapy. We may incorporate a meditation, a breathing exercise, or some gentle stretching into session. We may do it each week at the beginning or end of session as a ritual of sorts to get centered before talking or a way to close and transition before heading back to everyday life. Or we may tap into it to treat a specific issue, like doing a specific meditation to feel more balanced, or for insomnia, or to help with an addiction. And then this meditation may be given as homework to do between sessions. Often we use it as a deepening and enhancement to the process already happening. Diving into the yoga toolbox to get somewhere that is not quite happening yet. Sometimes it may be just a yogic perspective or philosophy teaching that can set off a lightbulb, shift perspective. However we use it, it is always organic and co-created.
From Yoga therapy, clients have experienced tremendous benefits, feeling more in control of their lives – or at least their reactions to things in their lives, more positive energy to initiate and create the next steps in their journeys, and have found things tend to flow more easily – sometimes experiencing a dramatic increase in prosperity (especially when doing a daily prosperity meditation!). Always, clients feel more at ease, more centered, and more at home with themselves.
Mind you, Kundalini yoga therapy meditations are not just sitting with closed eyes and breathing. Which is wonderful. But this is something different. So if this blog has piqued your curiosity, or you want to learn more, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We would love to speak with you and share the powerful technologies we have to offer!