Yoga Therapy Emerges as a Bridging Technique

Many therapists take great pains to make their clients feel comfortable during sessions at their private practice. From conscientious furniture selections –including the ever-classical couch– to calming hues and interesting artistic focal points, the mental health professional’s office has long been the subject of concerted effort and study. Yet a new trend among psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers alike has taken the concept of making clients comfortable to a whole new level, and has tapped into the body-mind connection in a way that proves full of opportunity. Yoga therapy, as the practice is being called, incorporates the popular Indian tradition of yoga with traditional therapies, such as cognitive behavioral and psychodynamic psychotherapy.

With a plethora of easy introductory poses, yoga enables clients to incorporate their physical awareness with the mental benefits of a therapy session. Helping to stretch and relax the muscles, poses can prove grounding for many with stressful tendencies, calming for those experiencing anxiety, or comfort and clarity for clients with depressive symptoms. The unique breathing exercises associated with yoga are also likely very beneficial for clients suffering from a range of issues, and can help open and sustain a session while promoting calm, openness, and the therapist-client relationship.

Dr. Elizabeth Visceglia, a practicing psychiatrist in New York City, has been developing yoga therapy for her clients for a while, and is in the process of drawing conclusions from an academic study aimed at assessing the precise benefits of the technique. She suspects, in particular, that yoga therapy may be a large step forward for those with schizophrenia. Her hope for the success of the treatment is echoed in the growing popularity of yoga therapy, which is being adopted by both mental health professionals and by yoga enthusiasts with an interest in psychology. As the trend continues, many professionals may find their couches replaced by a simple yoga mat.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Stacy L

    Stacy L

    April 26th, 2009 at 9:02 AM

    Having participated in a few yoga sessions I can easily see how the practice would allow you to more readily open your mind to new experiences and receive the clarity that he or she may be seeking through therapy. Yoga offers those who practice it the strength of wisdom as well as patience which is one of the best lessons any of us could discover while in or out of therapy. I would love to take part in a session like this and want to know if you have any insight how to find a therapist or counselor in my area who offers this new approach to therapy.

  • Lynn Somerstein

    Lynn Somerstein

    April 26th, 2009 at 1:23 PM

    Yoga, meditation and psychotherapy are my ways to help people be the change they long for.

    It works.

  • Teyana

    Teyana

    April 27th, 2009 at 2:24 AM

    I would have never thought of seeing yoga in a therapy session, but it makes sense. I think this is a wonderful idea. I have heard many benefits of yoga and would like to learn it one day.

  • Philip

    Philip

    April 27th, 2009 at 5:05 AM

    How can it be that something so simple and that has been around for so long is finally catching on with the mainstream?

  • Pamela

    Pamela

    April 28th, 2009 at 2:27 AM

    How neat that there are therapist using Yoga. The breathing help relax and free the mind and I can see how this would work.

  • Bethany

    Bethany

    April 28th, 2009 at 1:52 PM

    I am afraid of yoga and the things that it might open my mind to. My dad was a preacher and he taught us that it was wrong and I guess a part of me still believes that.

  • Barbara

    Barbara

    April 29th, 2009 at 3:34 PM

    Yoga is such a relaxing and beautiful concept and practice to try. I guess I am really not sure why anyone would be afraid of it. But I respect that opinion, may not agree, but respect it all the same. For me yoga is a very enlightening experience and I can easily see how it and therapy could bridge together very nicely. You can get a lot of fantastic personal benefits with each- imagine how much more fruitful the experience could be by utilizing the positives that both methods to self knowledge have to offer!

  • Indra

    Indra

    April 30th, 2009 at 1:36 AM

    Yoga is life for me. It has helped me come to terms with who I am and gain control over myself. This apart from the physical benefits of yoga.

  • Rene

    Rene

    May 1st, 2009 at 2:55 AM

    I have never tried yoga, but heard a little about it. I work out and I have done pilates, but never yoga. If yoga can be that relaxing and opens the mind, I would definetly love to give it a try.

  • Chasity

    Chasity

    June 18th, 2009 at 12:16 PM

    Now that’s something unique and different I’ve never heard of.. Bringing yoga into the therapy. Unique idea.

  • Benefits of yoga

    Benefits of yoga

    June 30th, 2009 at 2:32 AM

    Great post! The benefits of yoga are still unknown to many people. Different types of yoga have different effect on our health. However, it is important to understand the yoga basics so that the practitioner can perform the asanas perfectly and experience the benefits of yoga.

  • Lynn Somerstein

    Lynn Somerstein

    January 1st, 2011 at 5:42 PM

    Many have asked to read my article about yoga breathing and psychotherapy. Here is the link: lynnsomerstein.community.officelive.com/TwoinaRoom.aspx

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