As I continue on my path of researching Yoga both personally and professionally, I have realized how closely related the two fields are. There are so many similarities in fact that we really should be combining both worlds at the same time. When we are emotionally well, not only do we connect with others better, but we also become more creative, motivated, focused and attentive to our bodies.
Many people come to yoga or counseling initially because of some health issue whether it be physical, spiritual or mental. Most individuals are looking for outside help because he/she has exhausted each of his/her own coping strategies.
Clients learn in Yoga as well as in Counseling, that there is a fine line in finding balance between “letting go” and “gaining control”. In both forms of treatment, we look to let go of what no longer serves us, and in turn strive to gain control of a healthier lifestyle. For example, letting go of negative thought patterns in counseling, so as to gain healthier more positive thought patterns.
According to Judith Hanson Lasater, PhD, PT, and Yoga Therapist, “with yoga we want to relax the mind and body so that tension can be released and healing can begin.” By letting go or relaxing certain muscle groups in Yoga we can begin to gain control in a different muscle group such as our breath or reducing our thoughts. For example, in Tree Pose we want to ground down through our feet while at the same time lifting through the crown of our head. Therefore, two different actions simultaneously acting together to create one goal.
Yoga and Counseling could complement each other beautifully if practiced together. Many clients find while in counseling that they aren’t even connected to their physical body because they are so wrapped up in what is going on in their head. Same thing can happen in Yoga and then injuries could occur because we are not practicing awareness. Being aware of where our body is currently placed is just as important as understanding where our thoughts are driving our moods and behaviors. Deep Breathing relaxes the physical body by lowering blood pressure and heart rate, which then in turn continues to relax the mind.
So, take a moment and stop what you are doing and just take notice of where your body is currently. Is it sitting in a chair, or standing in line? What do you feel? What do you notice? Without judgement, just try and slow down the breath, by breathing in through your nose to the count of three, and out through your mouth to the count of four. Do this 3-5 times until you can begin to notice a warmer more relaxed state in the body and mind. Continue to this until you feel better and more relaxed. Then you can move on with your task and focus. This moment of relaxation might even change your mind!