Combining psychotherapy with yoga and mindfulness.
Integrated therapy combines traditional talk therapy with holistic interventions to treat the whole body and mind
My training background includes not only psychology, but also mindfulness and yoga. Therefore, an integrated session will combine traditional psychotherapy, mindfulness, and techniques found in yoga traditions (which is not just exercise!).
Treating your problems with a holistic solution, an integrated session will incorporate several techniques, depending on your present needs.
An integrated therapy session may combine any of the following elements, and each session is customized to each individual’s particular needs at the time:
Intention-setting (bhavana) to establish aims and set the mood of the session
Guided imagery based on the intention of the session
Talk therapy to clarify needs, find resolution and support goals
Breath work (pranayama) to calm or energize and help bring emotional and physical balance
Meditation to guide the mind towards gaining concentration and mindfulness (presence) skills
Sound (mantra) to support your session intention and support physical harmonization
Hand gestures (mudras) to stimulate different parts of your body or to seal energy
Movement and posture (asana) to encourage health, healing and relaxation
Guided relaxation (yoga nidra) to nurture deeper states of relaxation and better sleep
Music to support the mood of the session
Aromatherapy to help energize or relax
Components of an Integrated Session:
Why integrate yoga, mindfulness and psychotherapy?
There is ample evidence that the mind and body are interconnected. Mindfulness and yoga practices help to reduce stress, become more present and engaged in life, and can lead to less emotional reactivity to life's stressors. John Kabat Zinn, Tara Brach, Amy Weintraub and Jack Kornfield, to name a few, have made careers discussing, researching, and disseminating these concepts: that the ancient practices of meditation, mindfulness and yoga can benefit the mental health and well being in our modern Western society.
Integrating yoga and mindfulness with psychology has been shown to increase our ability to manage our emotion and increase neural plasticity.
Burgeoning field of practice
Incorporating these concepts in the psychotherapy office is a burgeoning field. Research that promotes and validates the connection between these practices and our well-being is robust. Marina Kaplan, author of Yoga and Psyche, and a team of graduate students conducted a meta-analysis of this research, and concluded that yoga has a "positive effect on post-traumatic disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, immunity issues, eating disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, well-being and mood."
Life Force Yoga, a program in which I am trained, has also been proven to be effective as an augment or treatment for PTSD, depression, as well as anxiety.
benefits to our neurological system and ability to change
Furthermore, the subject of neural plasticity, that we are able to change our brain's function, has also been widely researched and has recently gained more public attention. Integrating psychology and yoga techniques, especially meditation, allows us to re-direct and change our neural pathways.
Yoga practices will:
Train you to direct the mind towards focused attention.
This focused attention will strengthen our gray matter in certain areas of our brain and increase the efficiency of the workings of your mind.
Move your body, which is widely known to help manage stress, maintain health, and improve mood.
Psychotherapy practices will:
Allow you to guide, understand and change/re-direct your thoughts, behaviors and habitual patterns towards a more satisfying and healthy manner.
Finally, combining yoga and mindfulness-based movements provide an alternative therapeutic environment for those who may find it challenging to express themselves freely or who desire a different experience to traditional psychotherapy.