Yoga and Psychotherapy?

Maybe you’ve read before that the practice of mindfulness and body movement has a positive affect on our mental health, maybe you haven’t. Yoga is the practice of both, so it makes sense that it would be a helpful tool in conjunction with psychotherapy!

The practice of yoga and psychotherapy, while they have different origins, do indeed share some similar principles and can be complementary.
1. Mind-Body Connection

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Both yoga and psychotherapy acknowledge the connection between the mind and the body. Yoga often focuses on this through physical postures (asanas), breathwork (pranayama), and meditation, aiming to bring balance and harmony between the mind and body. Similarly, many forms of psychotherapy now incorporate a consideration of the body, such as somatic therapies, recognizing that mental health issues can manifest physically and vice versa.

2. Present-Moment Awareness

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Both yoga and psychotherapy value the importance of being present in the moment. Yoga cultivates this awareness through the mindful practice of postures and meditation. Psychotherapy, especially cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), encourages clients to become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours in the present moment, helping to break cycles of negative thinking or behaviour.

3. Self-Awareness and Self-Regulation

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Yoga promotes self-awareness, helping practitioners to tune into their bodies and minds, while psychotherapy encourages self-awareness through introspection and reflection on one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. This awareness can lead to greater self-regulation – the ability to manage one’s emotional and physiological responses to stressors. In this way, both yoga and psychotherapy can provide tools for managing stress, anxiety, and other emotional challenges.

4. Healing and Growth

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Both yoga and psychotherapy can be seen as paths to healing and personal growth. They both offer techniques to overcome personal challenges, whether these are physical, mental, or emotional. Yoga may use physical postures, breathwork, and meditation as tools for transformation, while psychotherapy often utilises talk therapy, behavioural interventions, and other therapeutic techniques to facilitate change.

5. Integration

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Finally, there’s a growing recognition of the potential for integrating yoga and psychotherapy. Yoga can serve as a complementary practice to psychotherapy, potentially enhancing the effectiveness of therapy by reducing stress, improving mood, and increasing mind-body awareness. Some psychotherapists even incorporate yoga techniques directly into their therapeutic practice.

While yoga and psychotherapy have different traditions and techniques, they share an underlying focus on the mind-body connection, present-moment awareness, self-awareness and self-regulation, and the goal of facilitating healing and personal growth. By integrating the two, individuals can potentially experience a more holistic approach to mental health and wellbeing. 

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Interested in learning more about how Yoga and Psychotherapy are related and trying it out for yourself? Send an email to hello@acceptanceclinic.ca to inquire about any upcoming yoga series with Sheena!