Yoga and psychotherapy are widely practiced methods designed to improve physical and mental health. Psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavior therapy continues to grow in acceptance and in its clinical applications. Yoga practices including postures, breathing, meditation and philosophy have become increasingly popular in theUnited States and around the world.
As a practicing psychologist and student of yoga, I have started to blend the two in my personal life and in my work with clients. In the same way that there are many different styles of yoga, there are many different approaches to psychotherapy. I have found that there are a great many similarities between the practice of Ilyengar style yoga and cognitive therapy that I practice and the two tend to complement each other.
While yoga is generally practiced as a form of exercise to increase muscle flexibility, reduce injuries, improve strength and balance, it is becoming well known for its usefulness in aiding in relaxation, improving concentration and quieting the mind.
These core attributes of yoga can aid in reducing levels of both anxiety and depression.
As for cognitive therapy, core skills involve learning how to identify, challenge and replace negative, unhealthy thoughts and attitudes with more rational ones. Behavioral methods are then introduced to help individuals make actual changes in responses which produce changes at the feelings level.
While yoga is more typically practiced in a group or class setting and psychotherapy is typically practiced individually, common ground is increasing as yoga therapy is used with individuals and psychotherapy is increasingly administered in a group setting. As more therapists embrace yoga and more yoga therapists take a comprehensive approach to their students, I predict the blending of these two powerful approaches will continue to grow.
For those living in South Florida, Palm Beach and Broward counties are rich with excellent yoga studies as well as a number of psychotherapists who practice cognitive behavior therapy.