What Is Psychotherapeutic Yoga?

Woman and Female Child facing each other in forward fold poseWhen you hear yoga and therapy, you may be imagining a hot yoga class to sweat the demons out. While that may have a therapeutic benefit for some people, this is not what we mean by psychotherapeutic yoga. Yoga also does not have to be fit into only a 90 minute or hour long class. While the name is long, it is not as scary as it sounds! This tradition of yoga is based in Hatha. Hatha is more gentle, functional and restorative as opposed to becoming a pretzel or intense sweating. These sequences are put together to tailor to your body. Chair yoga, standing only, or a combination of postures are all beneficial wherever your physical body needs to be met. These postures help you physically and prepare the body for what the breath can to.  Additionally, this can be offered for all ages – fun for kids, and restorative for adults!

In addition to tailored and appropriate sequences, there is a focus on breathwork in psychotherapeutic yoga. Breath is called “prana” or lifeforce in yoga. The breath can regulate our nervous system in any way that it will benefit you. For example, focused breathwork can assist with attention and contribute to mindfulness. Mindfulness can be a physical and mental experience. The breath can also activate your nervous system if you are experiencing depressive symptoms or pace you if you are experiencing anxiety symptoms. Breathwork can sometimes be more difficult to practice than the postures themselves! Meditation is another support for the mind and body to experience mindfulness. There are some great apps such as Insight Timer, Headspace and Calm that have free options to try out. Some of these apps also have guided movement.

With both the physical postures and the breathwork, there can be things that “come up.” It is beneficial to have a therapist that you can work with and process different physical and mental experiences that come through the physical practices. Please see our list of providers here to begin finding a therapy fit.

What would a private psychotherapeutic yoga session look like? First, there is an intake to determine what your needs are. Then, you would be guided through tailored practices for you. The practice will change and expand with you.  We can also offer therapeutic yoga virtually, increasing your comfort! Check out the Upside Therapy Therapeutic Yoga page to learn more details about what psychotherapeutic yoga can offer you!