Yoga and Inner Work
Shoshona Pascoe, MFT
Yoga practice can be a supportive aid to psychotherapy by increasing awareness of feelings in the body; that experience complements our thinking function. The intense pace of life for many people requires some intent to find balance in the midst of demands on our time and attention. Opening to the body as a vehicle of self-awareness supports physical well-being and emotional balance as well as a deepening connection to ourselves and to our world.
The metaphors of a yoga practice are quite useful as we strive to live life in a more satisfying way. The suggestion to feel our feet grounded on the Earth translates into finding stability in other parts of our lives such as coping with stress and change. The ability to simultaneously soften while we exert effort and focus, to relax while we exercise will and perseverance, serves as a model of integration. We are learning how to use both sides of the brain, and bring resources of receptivity and assertion to our challenges and dilemmas. Taking time to stretch and use the body, pausing for relaxation after exertion, clears the mind, fills the heart, and releases unnecessary tension.
The experience of well-being is an important component of psychological change. I notice in my work as a therapist how valuable the qualities cultivated in yoga can be. For example, the capacity to know how to settle into ourselves, to breathe and sense into what we are experiencing, helps us to access inner resources. These skills can enhance our inner work in psychotherapy cultivating patience with our inner process. I integrate many images from the wisdom tradition of yoga into my psychological work with clients.