Integrating Yoga and Mindfulness with Counselling

I thought it would be a good idea to talk a little bit of about what yoga, mindfulness and relaxation has to do with psychology and why it has established a place in modern psychotherapy.

And let me start with a quote. So, one person who has become known in mindfulness once said, “If you don’t have time for 15 minutes of meditation you need to meditate for 1 hour”. So, and what it really says is: we need to rest and we need to rest frequently, otherwise we burn out and suffer from all sorts of things. And – and the principle of resting is really pretty simple – we can see this in a lot of activities so for instance the heart – the heart pumps and then has a rest. So, there’s another beat, then there’s another rest and so forth. And that Principle keeps the heart going for  however long  it’s going to beat: 70 years, 80, it depends of course.

When you look at the process of breathing it’s like you – you inhale and then there’ a short rest before you exhale. And then you exhale, and then there’s a short rest before you inhale again. So — but in terms of Yoga it’s very interesting.

So, I had a chat with an Indian colleague and she — she specializes in Yoga and meditation and so forth. And she said, “the blessing of Yoga is that you – that your able to reach the state of calm.”  She’s teaching that concept and tries to get it across to her clients using the concept of calm, and I said, “Hey look that’s sounds pretty much like activating the parasympathetic – sympathetic nervous system” And she said, “Yes bang on-spot on” and then I thought, “Wow, that’s very interesting because psychology has incorporated relaxation techniques for decades now”, being a progressive muscle relaxation or orthogenetic training.

Relaxation is an essential not a luxury

Psychology has always try to teach patients to relax. First of all, relaxation is the antidote to anxiety. So, you can’t be anxious and relaxed at the same time which is — which is an interesting concept. But the more interesting part to me is actually that only in the state of relaxation we have – we have insides and we can repair the body.

And when I think — when I think about the lifestyle that most people have these days, you know with a busy life, with business being almost an illness in itself, then it’s no surprise to me that mindfulness, Yoga or Thai Chi has become so popular and incorporated in — in western medicine including psychology. It’s just sort of an essential.

So, of course, Yoga is not a — sort of a technique or an approach that has been naturally within psychology, but I would call it an essential. And we have to get the essentials right. So, essential for me would be diet, Sleep and exercise. So, the body and the mind are not separated they’re just a unit, so if you look after the body, you look after the mind and vice versa. And the common presentations like anxiety, depression and so forth they — They’re really sort of a – yes, the Symptoms speak or display, a huge disconnection of the body from the – from the – from the mind.

So, like overthinking, ruminating about the past or worrying about the future just it’s – it’s just a symptom of disconnection of not being able to be in the present moment. So, whatever you do, whether you want to do a Thai Chai class or a Yoga class and I think Yoga is a – is a really good trick because it relaxes the mind by using the body which — which I think is really a fantastic approach. And once you – once you engage in Yoga you will find that, yes it’s — it’s not entirely easy but it’s actually not exhausting.

So, you feel refresh and revitalized after – after your session, and can you ask for more? And you don’t need any drugs to do that. So, anyways – so, I mean relaxation doesn’t — didn’t — doesn’t always have a good reputation. It has been called the Panadol of Psychology and I wouldn’t be surprised if you find my ideas immediately tantalizing.

However — what I’d like to invite you to, is to be open to – to engage in those practices because they should be on — they can – will be a part of psychotherapy. It’s not the whole solution of course, that would be too easy, when you just do a couple of Yoga sessions each week and your depression that you’ve suffered from in years is gone, that’s not the case. But you — but you build a foundation and you build resilience and you definitely build a better body perception. So — and that’s reason enough I don’t know.

So, if you want please check out my website, there’s a section under the resource link. It’s an audio — there audio files which were done by fabulous colleague Mal Huxter from Lismore. You can download them for free they’re entire self-explanatory. I use — I usually — I’ve used them for years and I think they’re just spot on. So, try them out, try mindfulness of – of the breath or the body scan. Mindfulness — mindful standing and walking is also a nice – a very nice thing because we don’t always have to meditate or lie down or whatever to be mindful and to practice being in the present moment. You just have to be present in the moment and practice that. You can have a mindfulness shower for instance, the famous mindfulness washing the dishes exercise.

So, there are a lot of things we can do to improve our – our well-being in everyday life and I certainly would promote and advocate for Yoga and all these things. So, I hope that I gave you a little inside how Yoga only approach is incorporated in Contemporary psychotherapy and if you have a question just put it into the comments section.