I’m often asked why I chose to integrate yoga with psychotherapy. Simply put, the therapeutic application of classical Yoga is my greatest passion and life’s purpose. There is nothing I have discovered in Western psychology, organized religion or new-aged traditions that can even cast a shadow upon the profundity and effectiveness of Yoga for mental and emotional transformation and human optimization.
So how did this come to be? (the short version)
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, I attended my first yoga teacher training; 30-days of immersive study and practice. Within the first couple of days we were taught a technique called Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) and were led through 2, 30-mins sessions each subsequent day. This is much like jumping into the deep end after only learning how to blow bubbles in the shallow. I was very quickly flooded by an awareness of the active trauma in my life back home and spent one entire morning crying hysterically as I came to grips with this revelation. That day was the first step of my personal (and tenuous) healing journey.
After several years of inquiry and practice, I became certain that Yoga (not just the asana kind) is unequivocally more potent than psychology. So, I lost interest in modern psychotherapeutic systems and launched myself into the bowels of yogic study. It was only after it was suggested to me that I needed a career that could carry my knowledge and conviction that I went back to the more traditional route of degrees and licensure. Hence, Yoga Psychotherapy was born.
Integrating classical Hatha Yoga and Āyurveda with modern psychotherapy has yielded a system that IMHO is more complete (and therefore more effective) than anything currently offered in the field of psychology; in fact, it is light years ahead. Both yoga and Āyurveda have deep philosophical roots and techniques for the treatment of the whole person and simply cannot be rivaled by the pubescent stages of Western psychology, whose theories and clinical applications are only just starting to scratch the surface of the human condition and our place within the universe. And quite honestly, with the direction that our planet is taking, we don’t really have the time for psychology to catch-up.
The yoga tradition understands the mind and emotions far more intricately and compassionately than the pathologizing checklists of DSM diagnoses. We understand mental imbalance as an organic response to the environments in which we live, rather than viewing them through the lens of illness or the judgment of personality flaws and weakness.
Yoga Psychotherapy not only provides effective treatment for trauma, mood disorders, personality struggles, and more, but it can also reveal the direction of our life’s purpose as we come into deeper contact with the true, uninhibited self. If desired, Yoga Psychotherapy will further illuminate the first few stages of a fruitful spiritual path. In contrast, Western psychology, at best, can only promise temporal happiness (i.e. not permanent) by way of a healthy ego and not the deeper meanings of life.
Yoga Psychotherapy is about becoming human in an increasingly traumatized world, where we are pulled towards all kinds of buffers and unhealthy coping mechanisms just to stay afloat. To benefit from this technology, it is NOT necessary to have an interest in going to public yoga classes or even in spiritualizing (although a natural byproduct). We will not be doing yoga postures in session, instead you will slowly be introduced to a living wisdom of health and vitality, applicable to your unique situation; one that can transform your mind and emotions into powerful agents of self-mastery.
When people ask me about this work, I tell them that, “as far as I’m concerned it’s the only game in town”. With so much suffering on our ailing planet and access to this ancient wisdom, which is quite possibly even more applicable today than it was during centuries past, really, what else would I be doing with this one precious life?