Midweek Mental Greening
(Yes, it’s Thursday.)
“Since the days of Freud, research into the mind-body relationship has come a long way. Studies show that not only are your mental health and mood dependent in large part on physical factors like exercise, but also unchecked stress, anxiety and depression can affect physical health, increasing blood pressure, heart disease and even risk of death. So it was perhaps inevitable that patients would start bringing their yoga mats into therapy.”
I’d planned on writing about something completely different today, but when I ran into this Time article on psychotherapy and yoga, I couldn’t resist rearranging the schedule – especially as we just talked about yoga last week.
According to the article, yoga-therapy – which “is to allow yoga to empower people while priming them to access their deepest emotions” – is gaining popularity among professionals in both the mental health and yoga fields. There are nearly 50 schools of yoga here in America, and the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) has tripled its membership since 2003.
One of the ideas behind yoga therapy is that while yoga brings about many emotions, actual yoga classes aren’t really set up to allow people to effectively deal with them.
“Emotional memories are stored in your body,” Visceglia says. “A group yoga class, is not structured to enable you to process that. Ideally one would want to work with someone who is paying attention to both the physical and emotional experiences.”
So, some therapists and yoga specialists are working to make each of their respective environments more conducive to both the mental and physical benefits of yoga.
Naturally, yoga therapy is raising some eyebrows, mostly because people want to make sure therapists are actually trained to “teach” yoga. Understandable. Of course, I’d also like to think yoga teachers who subscribe to yoga therapy are also getting some training in helping people “access their deepest emotions.” Seems like a two-way street, to me.
The Time article mentions the Phoenix Rising Center in West Stockbridge, Mass., and there are numerous other similar centers throughout the nation, including the Phoenix Rising Center in Bristol, Vt.; Mukunda’s Yoga Therapy Center in Holyoke, Mass.; and The Center for Yoga Therapeutics in Scottsdale, Ariz.
And, if you’re not near any of those places, the IAYT website offers a search tool to find yoga practitioners, teachers, therapists, and health professionals who utilize yoga in your area.