Yoga Therapy for Mental Health
“Yoga practitioners are able to cultivate the ability to remain present, to notice and tolerate inner experience, and to develop a new relationship with their body. This body-based practice then has a ripple effect on emotional and mental health, on relationships, and on one’s experience of living in the world.” ~ David Emerson & Elizabeth Hopper, PhD
Our yoga sessions for mental health will empower you to tap into your own innate healing power with increased awareness of the physical body, mental thought life, emotional body, and behavior urges. Students will learn tools they can integrate into their daily lives to self-regulate the nervous system, emotions, and stress levels and reduce impulsivity. The therapeutic yoga sessions will aim to address the following goal areas:
· cultivate awareness and the connection between mind and body.
· build inner strength and confidence.
· boost energy.
· find inner peace and stillness.
· practice self-compassion and improve relationship with self.
· explore acceptance.
· achieve balance.
The yoga sessions will include gentle physical postures and movements, breathwork, mindfulness, meditation, reflection, and processing as appropriate.
Students should dress in comfortable and loose clothing and bring a yoga mat to each session. Journals for reflection and processing will be provided.
While many traditional mental health therapies focus on cognitions and the mind, our yoga sessions incorporate the learnings from psychotherapy and neuroscience research to create a holistic treatment option addressing both the mind and body. There is a growing body of research supporting the effectiveness of the mind-body practice of yoga and mindfulness as complementary and adjunct treatments for depression, anxiety, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and trauma, eating disorders, chronic pain, insomnia, and dissociation. Research indicates yoga correlates to improved mood, relaxation, and feelings of well-being.
How is Yoga Therapy Different?
For more information on the differences between yoga therapy sessions and conventional yoga classes and their instructors, click here
What’s Accessible and Trauma Informed Yoga?
To allow the yoga sessions to be accessible and healing for all levels of practice and those that have experienced trauma or are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, the yoga instructor teaches the sessions using language full of invitation, empowerment, and choice and the following trauma informed considerations:
- Gentle Hatha yoga. The yoga pace will be slow and mindful with an emphasis on listening to the body and exploring each yoga posture for several breaths. We will have extended warm-ups and cool downs with stretches to allow muscles to relax and decrease muscle tension throughout the body. Holding poses for longer durations and focusing on the breath gives the body time to fully relax and increase the safety of the practice.
- Clear ground rules. Upfront explanation of the class structure and what to expect to allow for a sense of safety and predictability.
- No hands-on assists. The yoga instructor will teach from their own mat, visible at the front of the room, with verbal cues only. In group sessions, other students will be asked to stay on their mats and not to move around the room during the yoga practice, barring any restroom needs.
- Mindfulness of vulnerable poses and breathwork. The yoga instructor will avoid poses that may lead to students feeling exposed or activated.“… the areas of the brain involving self-awareness get activated by doing yoga, and those are the areas that get locked out by trauma and that are needed in order to heal it.” ~ Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD