I am primarily a clinical psychotherapist working with yoga as a tool in therapy. As therapists, we use many tools. My passion for yoga, the innate wisdom of the body and the power of mindful awareness has taught me that for us to live the fullness of our being, we have to engage mind, body and soul.
Yoga is a tool in therapy that teaches you how to become grounded in your body and not just in their mind. One such “tool” is Pranayama (breathing exercises) which helps balance the nervous system. Mantras are another form of healing, that address mind chatter and negative thinking.
The teachings and inner dialogue of yoga is a nurturing voice that many have often never experienced. Over time it becomes internalized. Learning how to listen and extend self-compassion is how we connect with our bodies. This brings us home in the truest sense of the word, which leads to a reduction of anxiety and depression and increased awareness.
The autonomic nervous system, our brain’s survival system, is divided into two branches:
- The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for adrenaline to fuel the body and brain. This kicks in when we get scared. It drives primal responses: fight, flight, and freeze.
- The parasympathetic nervous system regulates functions like digestion, healing, sleep, and relaxation. Where there is unbalance and disruption, mental health issues occur, like trauma, anxiety, depression, and grief. Over time and with practice, yoga helps us find balance, ease and grace.
Knowing the power of breath on the autonomic nervous system puts you in the driver’s seat of your reactions. Instead of feeling ruled and at the mercy of your emotions, yogic techniques teach you how to ride the rough waters.
Learning to apply self-love, compassion and care — giving ourselves what we need, like rest, good food, relaxation, space, fun, etc. — is crucial to health and healing.