DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOGA & YOGA THERAPY

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOGA & YOGA THERAPY

Passionate, longterm practitioners of the spiritual Yoga tradition believe health and happiness is the birth-right of everyone, and inherent in us all. 

 But does that mean that all Yoga classes have the potential to heal? Or that every Yoga teacher can guide you to your physical, mental and emotional health, or spiritual and psychological wellbeing?  There is so much diversity of Yoga on offer now and thats a GREAT thing. But we’ve got to make public what a general Yoga class can’t do. Also a Yin class can be very good those of us who need more rest and quiet. An Ashtanga class can build our confidence and get our mood on high. Vinyasa, or Flow, allows us to feel alive. Restorative has the ability to calm our nervous system. Iyengar motivates our discerning focused and engaged self. Viniyoga can be very reflective and softening. Anusara is both activating and deeping. But all these traditions or styles have their limits, their drawbacks if we take them too seriously/religiously. 

They can even be a detriment to our health if we don’t include all aspects of our lives to decide what we practice day by day, according to those. The major difference is that Yoga therapy looks at all aspects of life that might contribute to an individual living a healthy life, or not. Whereas as most well intentioned Yoga teachers don’t know the full spectrum of habits that could potentially contribute to imbalance. Especially when we consider ourselves, not just as a body-mind, but an individual who lives, experiences and expresses on a physical, energetic, emotional, social, psychological and spiritual level every moment of every day.  

The Differences 

  • Yoga therapy is not a one size fits all, or one programme for all cases of similar disease. General yoga is.
  • Yoga therapy is based on the knowledge of inherent wholeness of each individual. Always remembering the tenacity, resilience and innate ability to heal as the underlying foundation of any living organism. Most general yoga teaching isn’t this broad or deep.
  • Yoga therapy is based on the relationship of therapist with client for any healing or therapy to occur. General yoga is based on movement, breath and maybe some meditation, if you’re lucky.
  • Yoga Therapy not only understands that Yoga affects the physical, psychosocial and spiritual realms of existence, having a wide variety of possible tools and practices, but also understands how we can empower each individual by adapting according to their specific needs, goals, ability and resources. General yoga doesn’t is able to deliver this personalised practice. 
  • Yoga therapists know their scope of practice. When we’re no longer able to serve, we refer on to another healthcare practitioner to ensure success of clients progress and integrity of profession. Yoga teachers generally don’t learn about a scope of practice in Yoga teacher trainings. 
  • Yoga therapy is based on the Yogic philosophy of Samkhya, Ayurveda and spiritual texts of the Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad-Gita, a broad understanding of modern science and command of mainstream medical language to be able to communicate skillfully with other healthcare providers. Mainstream yoga doesn’t.
  • Yoga therapy sees the individual as a body-energy-mind-soul being. It works on all these levels to create wellbeing. (Some traditions, such as Integral, Raja Yoga or individual teachers who are dedicated to study further, understand the diverse practices and their energeticpsychosocial effects for most these aspects of living). Most general yoga teacher trainings integrates a bare minimum of 25hrs, or completely ignores, the basis of this understanding the Yoga philosophy of mind and emotions.
  • Yoga therapy helps people move from suffering to ease, health and happiness, by understanding the underlying cause of imbalance. (For example, depression might be due to chronic unhealthy, physical habits; eating, social life and postural habits, which create visceral, emotional and mental imbalances, which can collectively lead to depression. Or it can be the inverse; chronic negative emotions and mental habits led to unhealthy social life, diet and posture, culminating in depression. Both require different practices, steps and gradual work, according the individuals present state, ability and progress). General yoga helps by generally balancing mood, energy and some mental states, by being present and connecting mind and body through breath.
  • Yoga therapy empowers the individual to health through educating them in better choices of daily habits; activities, work, posture, diet, relationships and mind states, for where they are at now. General Yoga generally doesn’t.
  • Yoga therapy gives practices personally tailored to an individuals’ needs, goals, ability, resources and age or life stage. A step by step structured programme sets them up for success. General yoga is just that, general. Generally beneficial. Generally improves embodied experience, contained consciousness and psychological perception.

Yoga as Therapy 

Awareness of body, energy, mind and emotions is crucial to empower each individual. This awareness shows how our choices create our life. Good and bad. It empowers through self-study, self-effort, self-education and self-regulation. Yoga therapy understands the primal power of purpose. Meaning in our life can carry us through the toughest times. Without it, we can suffer psychologically. A general yoga class can reveal our purpose over the years or when we’ve done plenty of personal development. But usually its more a physical-energetic sense of aliveness we experience, a sense of connection to self, Divine and other. Yoga works from the gross level to the very subtle. Subtle work allows our inherent intelligence to redirect energy and healing processes to hidden or unconscious areas through awareness. Understanding the Ayurvedic principles and Yoga philosophy, and applying them to the different aspects of living; physical, energetic, mental, social, psychological and spiritual, is the difference between yoga and Yoga therapy. Yogic philosophy sees stress as the major cause of all disease. Stress can be diminished, prevented and removed, when the programmes we create give back self-efficacy, self-confidence, sense of responsibility, and the innate birth-right to health and happiness. Without this underpinning, the same subtle energy practices and processes can wreak havoc, and cause dis-ease. Especially when we don’t know what the practices do in relation to physical, energetic, emotional, mental, social and psychological states. This is when a general yoga classes can be counter-intuitive.

Yoga therapy sees four stages of dis-ease

  1. The disease is of the psyche and mind, we feel, think and it creates emotional, mental and psychological discomfort and unease.
  2. If this continues it begins to affect the body, it becomes psychosomatic.
  3. If not addressed, it will move into the body affecting our physical tissues and physiological processes.
  4. If we still ignore this stage, it becomes a physical disease, the later stages of an illness.

Usually people seek professional help at these last two stages of manifesting dis-ease, especially in the west, where emotional/psychological unease is often ignored. Yoga therapy greatly helps in the first two stages where we can easily reverse it with meditative practices, that work on energetic, emotional and mental states. Yoga therapy greatly helps us deal better with stress and detach from mental agitation. Once it has moved into body in the third stage, Yoga Therapy is an adjunct, and in the last stage its only palliative.

Ultimately “yoga is a process of transformation. A system for shedding dysfunctional patterns and activating your untapped potentials. A tool for identifying your unique structural challenges and patterns”. –Gary Kraftsow.

When we understand the fundamentals of Yoga and Ayurveda and how to apply them, through decades of self-reflection and inquiry, awareness of emotional, psychological and social health, we begin the process of the alchemy of Yoga. We can only guide others as far as we ourselves have dared to travel. We learn how to transform the bodymind into conscious awareness embodied, through this voyage. All of life’s challenges are just stepping stones to becoming a fuller version of ourselves. And that practice is always a process of progression. We are never finished, never perfect. And nor should we strive toward perfection. Rather yoga can show us how to love ourselves and others in this process of becoming our fuller Self. A self love and compassion that embraces all of us. The Great, the Glorious and most of all, the Godforsaken.  

Namaste Dear One, leave a comment about your interpretation of Yoga as a therapy, a tool of transforming the challange into a cherised aspect of self discovery.

Much Love,

Shira.

TRANSFORM EMOTIONS AND SHADOWS

TRANSFORM EMOTIONS AND SHADOWS

Bottoms up, Top-down & Heart Centred

Practicing Yoga mindfully based on Ayurveda, it’s no longer prescriptive but a process. Bottom up, using the body to regulate energy, moods and nerves. Top down, add psychology and it’s a process of rediscovering deeper layers of wellbeing in self and relationships, uses clarity to bring homeostasis. Heart Centred uses emotional empowerment, works with our feelings, passion and deepest desires.

For decades I believed Yoga alone was the Panacea for all healing. As a teacher and therapist, sure students didn’t need to go outside the realm of Vedic studies for healing and transformation. Until I hit rock bottom. That spurred me on to study all I could on psychology, Ayurveda, neuroscience and anything related to emotions. Top-down. Heart centred. Bottoms up. You name it.


For our Yoga practice to really support our healing process, transformation and growth in our lives, we need all.
Instead of reacting and acting upon subconscious fears and feelings, yoga with a willingness to face our weaknesses, creates space to see and release underlying triggers. Subconscious triggers.


The subconscious is the pathway through which our conscious and unconscious mind communicate. The limited mind with limitless knowing, or pure potential as Deepak Chopra calls it. Limitless potential is frightening because we have no idea what it is, where we’ll be when there, how we’ll be challenged moving into a bigger arena of self or where it’ll take us. Because it’s new and unknown, we can’t compare it to any previous experience.


But there are pathways that we can slowly open up to the limitless potential of mind without being overwhelmed.

Consciousness Pathways, Our Potential and Our Shadows 

Our subconscious reveals parts of our unconscious and limitless mind, or limited and maladaptive aspects of mind, which need to be faced, embraced and replaced. This makes space for our potential to grow, thrive and feel alive. 


Without seeing our weaknesses and imperfections, we’ll never change for the better. We’re only Bhogi Yogis. Spiritual bypassers, seeking pleasure and sidestepping any real transformation. And there are way too many Yoginis and Yogis that skip this vital part of practice. To think or believe we’ve done the work is the ingenious play of ego. We’re here because we are the work in progress. And progress happens by practicing not only what we love and what we loathe.


Meditation creates more space in the subconscious(SC) realm. It allows the SC to flow into the conscious mind, expanding our conscious mind into this SC realm and becoming conscious. This frees up space in the SC for the unconscious(UC) to flow into. And that let’s more of our potential and limitless mind to flow into our subconscious. And so on and so forth.
This is expanding consciousness. Living from limitless self means we have pure potential to create and become all that lays dormant within us.


And in the clearing, not only amazing parts of ourselves come to the fore, our shadows also arise. Dormant are also those suppressed aspects of self. All we’ve learned to reject, suppress and neglect. All we’ve forgotten and felt shame, guilt or fear about never rise to the surface of our consciousness to be seen, felt and heard, grows in intensity from the resisitance. 


These shadows are projected becoming power plays and dominator dynamics. Whether physical, mental, emotional, psychological or sexual. Just look at Osho, Deshen Thurman, Bikram, John Friend, Swami Rama, Swami Muktanananda, Pattabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar, Kausthub Desikachar, Satyananda Saraswati, Nirjanjanananda and so many other ‘Gurus’. Their repressed physical, emotional, psychological and sexual shadows later defined their character as authorities. 


To free ourselves fully is to become ourselves fully. Preventing another’s domination means understanding our projections. Stepping into our power is seeing all we project; the glorious, the bad and the ugly. Not just on those we dislike, but even more on those we adore, idolise and look up to. It’s our responsibility to acknowledge, accept and even embrace our failings, shortcomings and progressive, not perfect, actionsLetting this out into the light of consciousness frees us as well as it. Then we humbly and humanly step into ourBeauty & Power. 


Through meditative Yoga practice we not only see the thoughts and feel the emotions underlying our habits, beliefs and perceptions, we actually move through them. We use our embodied experience and release and energy trapped in the body/mind complex in a conscious manner. The issues in our tissues, or the condensation of mental energy solidified is moved through. One way to free our shadows.
There’s only one way out, and that’s through.

Dreams and Feelings

Dreams are one pathway of the SubConscious. 
Dreams allows us to better understand our SC and therefore become more conscious of what we belief, fear, and feel. Dreams are a powerful channel of SC unfolding, if we learn to read their symbols and listen to the dynamics. If we see each personality as different aspects of ourselves, we can decipher the language of dreams and our SC. But some of us aren’t aware of our dreams or their symbolism.


Emotions are another pathway of the subconscious. And we are definitely aware of them.
But can we read them? Are we emotionally literate?
Remember emotions are energy in motion. They’re transient and have no substance, but that doesn’t mean they’re not powerful. They’re very powerful! Underneath each emotion lives our body-mind intelligence. This is the divine communicating with us.


We can actually empower ourselves emotionally. The desire to live fully and express our experiences of being and self, without limitation, is the essence of the life itself. Shakti. And it’s inherent in all of us. Supress this long enough and imbalance in our free flow of energy becomes dis-ease.
We reclaim the power within emotions, by learning their language and speaking our truth. Living from the heart, the desire to live fully will awaken in us again.

Test Your Emotional Intelligence and Language

We often lack the freedom to express emotions because we fear of being rejected, disliked, stand out from the crowd or facing the truth of our lack of… fill in the blank.
How many emotions do you think we have? And can you communicate them to others in the spur of the moment? And what’s your initial reaction towards difficult emotions? 
How many emotions can you think of right now?
Give yourself 90 seconds and write down as many as you can.
Count them.


Now place a N next to all the negative ones and a P next to the positive emotions.
Now look at which ones you call ‘negative’ and ‘positive’.
Why do we do that? Why do we assign N or P to any of them?
Our past experiences and perceptions, influenced by our caregivers’ reactions makes us relate so distinctly.

But we can do it different

According to Dr. Alan Watkins we have a vast universe of emotions. Imagine allowing yourself the freedom to experiencing a limitless range of emotions. See yourself living out immense possibilities of all the visceral sensations that intuite and invite us to live better and wiser lives. Messages from our beautifully wise, nurturing and loving bodies, through a nervous system thats always connected to the mind, and leads us back to our limitless self.


The mind-body pathways are always ready to change, adapt and improve.


We can feel anxiety in a positive sense. Feel nervousness, as a fluttering exhilaration for the new, a youthful excitement and anticipation to explore and be the adventurer once again. It gives us extra energy and alertness to raise our ability and engage our intelligence and consciousness in a more creative and curious way.


Feeling anger doesn’t ‘make us angry’. Anger is a powerful, dynamic and concentrated movement of energy. If we feel it in our spacious awareness moving through our body-mind, we can channel it into a new project. A plan or activity that creates change in relation to that which made us feel anger.
And so we can explore the universe of emotion and learn to move with it.

Transform Emotion into Motivation

By reclaiming the full scope of emotional experience through emotional literacy, we access the power within emotions. It’s here to tell us something is happening and the universe is only waiting for our response. Allowing ourselves unlimited expression to experience our feelings, without fear, allows energy to move through us, rather than happening to us.
Find that joy and immensity of pleasure to pass through us by embracing what you feel. Moving with emotions and letting the intelligence of the divine in our body speak to us, will motivate us to change for the better.

SO step into your power, feel and see the subconscious speak to you through its pathways as wisdom moving with life-energy, or Praana.
Let your universe of emotions expand and your shadows dissipate. Let Shakti free the issues in our tissues. Begin to have a deeper conversation with your feelings.

1. Write down two emotions you have a hard time with and how can you see them and experience them in a new light so the motivate you. Move You in the right direction 😉 
2. Write down two emotions you love to experience and do something this week to make sure that feeling wakes up in you again.


Namaste, love and move with meditative awareness of your energy’s movement,

Shira.