When we in the West think of yoga, what likely comes to mind are images of bodies in various postures and poses. Called “asanas”, these body shapes are absolutely one element of yoga. On a much deeper level yoga is, in fact, a multiple-millennium-old system of being in the world. Literally translated as “union” or “wholeness”, yoga incorporates asana, breath work, and levels of meditation practices into a holistic approach to living in harmony, both within ourselves and in how we relate to the world around us.
When integrated into psychotherapy work, the deeper teachings of yoga can help to guide us toward more fully and consciously inhabiting our own bodies and minds, and connect more consciously with our spiritual natures, if desired. Through this increased capacity for presence, we gain greater access to truths within us and compassionate, unconditional acceptance of ourselves and others. Living in congruence with the teachings of yoga might look like dropping our attachments to comparison and competitiveness, which both arise from the belief in the need to earn our worth, as well as the habit of trying to force or control outcomes and help us achieve a clearer foundational sense of who we Are and of already being Enough.
In addition to the conversational ways the teachings of yoga may be introduced into the psychotherapy room, yoga might take the form of suggested, demonstrated or practiced asana/poses, breathwork (pranayama), meditation or mantra practices. These ‘non-talk’ practices are known to offer pathways to inner transformation that bypass some of the roadblocks our minds have developed that may keep us feeling stuck in old ways of being that no longer serve us, by more directly impacting our physiology, including our nervous systems.
Yoga meets the practitioner where they are in any given moment.