Psychotherapy. Using Yoga Therapy, Meditation, and Integrative Behavioral Health
The circle is the symbol of wholeness and original perfection. It represents the Self, the unmanifest, infinite and eternal.
Full Circle Yoga Therapy is devoted to integrating psychotherapy and yoga therapy.
“Yoga therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the philosophy and practice of Yoga.“ The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT)
Although hatha yoga has been around for several thousand years (it’s only one aspect of a much larger system of Indian philosophy and psychology), yoga psychotherapy is relatively new in the United States. In the years since its introduction, hatha yoga has spread to gyms and studios throughout the country and is practiced by more than 15 million adults.
Hatha yoga is a practice that combines stretching, deep breathing, and attention to the body in a prescribed practice that helps a number of conditions. It improves physical health, such as strength, flexibility, and lung capacity, and can reduce heart rate, blood pressure, and back pain. Research has shown that yoga has powerful effects on both emotional and physical health. Regular yoga practice can help reduce stress and anxiety and can alleviate depression and insomnia.
Yoga begins from where one is. The aim is to heal the body and mind and move toward wholeness. Through yoga, one can become sanskrita (well made, well put together), allowing for more flexibility both physically and emotionally. Yoga therapy uses the scaffolding provided by the eight limbs (steps) of yoga to deal with difficult or negative situations, whether self-imposed or imposed by outside forces. The aim is to bring out what already exists in a person. Progressively bringing out the divine within is accomplished in successive approximations by continued practice and attention.
Yoga therapy is an integrative treatment for psychological and physical problems. In yoga psychotherapy, we learn to accept the emotions that come into our minds as feelings that change from moment to moment. The aim is to heal the body and mind so that wholeness can be achieved.
An important differentiation between yoga psychotherapy and many conventional psychotherapies is that in yoga, we do not try to minimize or get rid of symptoms, but to understand that our symptoms are ways to help us develop insight that will lead to a more purposeful life. In this way difficulties in life are used as a means for growth; such experiences provide an opportunity to learn about ourselves. In effect, we become our own gurus. Being fully open and accepting of life as it is, even the difficult parts of life, allows us to live more fully and remain balanced in the presence of obstacles.
Tis the gift to be simple
‘Tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d
To turn, turn will be our delight
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.
(“Simple Gifts,” a Shaker song written and composed in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett)
Lotus photos by Bahman Ferzad.
Other photos by David O’Grady, and Susan O’Grady.