How does one go from the experience of yoga to “yoga therapy?” I’m sure for some it’s a big leap, and for others, more of an unfolding in the direction you have already been facing. I realize there has been much focus of late on the benefits of yoga and, certainly, much is to be gained from practicing yoga. Of course, it all depends on what it is you are looking for.
Consider in what ways your wanting and desires might direct your practice – is it losing weight or better sex, increased strength and flexibility, letting go of stress, lowering your blood pressure, perhaps a few moments to be with yourself. Or are you going for the greater connection – to something greater than yourself?
How does this practice shift to “therapy?” For some, there’s an evaluation of a person’s current status, then an application of elements of yoga to target whatever symptoms have been identified. Valuable, it may be, as when I see a practitioner for my knee pain and am given postures to practice to help alleviate the pain and strengthen surrounding muscles. The practitioner brings respect for my body and physical issues, and I bring a willingness to participate and follow direction. Then I take the recommended postures home with me to practice.
I’m going to say that the operative word here is “practice.” Imagine that there is another approach – where the client shows up and is guided in a process where he can access information in his body while being supported in yoga postures. Where he is assisted in real time exploration of what’s happening now for him – whatever may be showing up in the physical, mental, emotional or spiritual parts of himself. Difficult to imagine – perhaps. But completely possible and not dependent on “practice” but on living your yoga.
The essentials of living your yoga apply to the practitioner and create the path that leads to a fully launched yoga therapy practitioner. The process of “becoming” means that you know yourself, you understand what triggers you and what gets in the way of you being present with unconditional acceptance of the client. It means you can meet the client where he is and offer an invitation for him to explore whatever is happening for him during his session. You appreciate what he’s ready to work on and accept that he goes the direction he chooses. And the most real aspect of this experience is that it is anchored in his body, so, of course, he takes it with him when he walks out the door.
This is the way of the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioner. It’s not the only way, but it is the only way that offers such an extraordinary invitation from the perspective of “living your yoga,” not “practicing” it…