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Wednesday, March 1

Student’s Stand

Jennifer James, RYT and MSW Candidate, MSW student (Dominican University), Illinois Chapter Intern

Yoga as an Integrated Therapy

As a certified yoga instructor, I have seen the potential for yoga in helping people transform their lives. Through yoga, clients have overcome obstacles that initially seemed insurmountable. In my work teaching yoga at a treatment center for professionals recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, my clients discover a way to relax without the use of mind altering substances for the first time. My students are learning to use tools to manage their stress that will prove invaluable in their recovery process. With more programs integrating yoga and psychotherapy, practitioners are beginning to take notice of the enhanced benefits of this interdisciplinary collaboration.

 The focus on breathing and centering meditation during yoga practice helps patients learn to be fully present and aware in themselves and their environment. This mindfulness gives clients the tools to recognize when a stress response is triggered and how to bring themselves back to a state of calm and relaxation. As an MSW student and a yoga teacher working in therapeutic settings, I have explored how yoga therapy successfully integrates both techniques.

One of the innovations in yoga therapy is Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. According to “Therapy on the Mat”, an article in the March/April 2004 issue of Yoga Journal, “Michael Lee created Phoenix Rising specifically to help students cope with their emotions. It combines assisted yoga postures, breath awareness and nondirective dialogue based on the work of Carl Rogers.” In his article “Yoga and Healing” Lee, who is also the author of the APA published book Beyond Talk Therapy- Using Movement and Expressive Techniques in Clinical Practice, explains that yoga therapy takes a holistic approach which values the complexity of human beings and our inherent uniqueness.

Through research, medical science continues to confirm what any student of yoga knows from their own practice, that the mind and body are interconnected. Yoga therapists draw upon the inherent benefits of healing work that treats the whole person. This holistic approach is useful not only for yoga therapists but has the potential to enhance therapy on a larger scale.

Posted on 03/01/06 at 09:19 AM (0) Comments

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