The mind-body connection is being taken to a whole new level with the growing practice of yoga therapy. People who practice yoga have been known to report emotional breakthroughs during class, and some psychotherapists are introducing elements of yoga into their private sessions.
Dr. Elizabeth Visceglia, a NYC-based psychiatrist and yoga therapist, explains, "Emotional memories are stored in your body. A group yoga class, is not structured to enable you to process that. Ideally one would want to work with someone who is paying attention to both the physical and emotional experiences." To learn how yoga is incorporated into therapy sessions, read more.
Dr. Visceglia typically begins her sessions with breath work determined by her clients' needs. For example, she'll guide depressed patients through energizing breaths and her patients dealing with anxiety would perform balancing breaths. She then introduces yoga poses using the same type of rationale; a client suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder would go through a series of grounding poses (like warrior or chair) before moving into the talking portion of the session.
The health of our minds and bodies is so deeply intertwined, so yoga therapy seems like a natural development in the world of healing. Critics of the practice aren't opposed to the logic behind it; they're concerned about the safety of psychotherapists instructing yoga. There are nearly 50 yoga schools offering yoga-therapy training, but in the world of psychotherapy there aren't any official licensing requirements. This seems like the necessary next step as yoga therapy becomes increasingly popular.