The first reaction that I get every time I begin a first-time clients session on the phone is “After filling out the forms, I didn’t know that Integrative Yoga therapy actually encompasses so many different areas!”
Literally, what I hear every single time.
Given that the field of Integrative Yoga Therapy is relatively new, and not so readily available everywhere yet, I thought I would share what an actual Integrative Yoga Therapy session with me would look like or may look like with other integrative yoga therapist.
Many people don’t even know what integrative yoga therapy is, or know what to expect when they are brave enough to try it, or what questions to ask so the integrative yoga therapist can help them.
Part of the reason is that, what people view as Yoga is what they see, and what they see is people doing crazy postures and physical thingsand the first thing that I hear is,
“I can’t do that”
“I’m not flexible”
“I’m can’t bend my body like that”
“I would break if I did yoga”
Yoga actually means the union of the mind, body, and the soul.
For instance, you can’t within a photograph, capture the influence that yoga has on the mind or capture the influence of Yoga on the soul nor are they measurable the way other aspects of our life are – it is a personal experience, an experiential feeling and sensation and they differ within every body. So the reason why people's perception of yoga is framed in this way is mostly based on what they have outwardly seen, rather than what it actually is inherently or what people are experiencing.
A lot of people come to me and they want to have a yoga session, but they don't know what questions to ask and they don't know where to start, but basically, it’s super simple, we essentially start with a conversation – usually over the phone.People come to me with an area in their life that they would like some help with, a difficulty of some kind, a confusion, clarity, physical injuries etc etc etc and then together we decide which areas to focus on and work on for an agreed amount of time. Usually I know a little bit about their situation prior to the call as there is a detailed filling of a Health Care Questionnaire Form, that is tremendously helpful in framing our conversation together and bringing forth clarity in different areas.
The form itself is tremendously helpful to fill out on its own, you will learn so much about your self, so many things will become clear, areas in your life that you didn’t even know was an important category to your health will become clear. We could decide to focus on something that the form has revealed or something entirely different.
Integrative Yoga therapy views the human being as having 5 layers,
· Witness level
· Bliss-body level.
Within the framework of the Integrative Yoga therapy, people could come to me with all kinds of issues like the following,
1. Physically - pain in their neck, or shoulders, a physical injury, tightness, inflexibility, back pain etc.
2. Energetically - lack energy, lack sex drive, they feel lethargic and haven’t been able to pick themselves up off the couch
3. Mentally or emotionally - they just had a break up, there is friction in their relationships with people, they are struggling with overcoming something emotionally, repeated patterns of certain types of emotions keep coming up with them
4. Witness body – confusion, unable to or find it difficult to discern things, they are unclear about why they feel the way they feel, they get caught up in every day life situation, they feel unsteady etc.
5. Bliss related - they are unhappy, they are disinterested in life, they are unsatisfied with their jobs, they don’t find meaning and purpose in life etc.
For instance, a client could come to me and say I am going through menopause, I'm having some trouble with my teenager I don't know how to deal with her, can you help me with this?She is being really difficult, and you know we're really not getting along very well.
And then maybe I'll ask some questions about what is your communication level like? She’ll reply to something like my daughter ignores me, she doesn't really answer my questions, and then maybe the next question would be like, what are you talking to her about these days?
The response comes back that she has been pestering her teenager about her schooling and even university, something that is like seven to eight years down the line and really making this university situation a burden for her to choose now and putting inordinate pressure on her kid to think about.
Given that she's going through menopause, naturally there's going to be some physical hormonal unrest. Perhaps thoughts like recognizing that your body is getting older, which could translate to fear of not being around forever for your kids, and then trying to over control situations that are way down the line, but wanting to ‘get ahead of the game’ because you feel this time pressure and all these emotional are bubbling up.
The first couple minutes of our Integrative Yoga Therapy could be focusing on the mental and emotional layer of the body, but then within the same conversation or problem area, I may provide a suggestion for like a physical practice, so I'll ask her whether or not she is doing any movement based practices.
And for this hypothetical client, she enjoys dancing a lot, but then recently because of her vacation time, she hasn't been able to attend her regular bi-weekly dance classes and she notices that in this period of time there has been an acute buildup of tension between her and her daughter.
I’ll explain something along the lines of when one person doesn't have an outlet to be able to regulate their physical hormones and also be able to enjoy what they're doing, generally people start to look outwards for comfort and even bodily regulation, and when that deep inward attention gets focused on a child, which you know is going to be a downward spiral, it is not going to be conducive for a fruitful, loving relationship that we all want to have with our children.
A straight up phone conversation would suffice in this integrative yoga therapy session,or it would continue several sessions down into taking a look deeper at her fears, and how they have been short circuiting her actions, or even provide physical or meditation practices through live webcam. It differs case by case, as each Integrative Yoga Therapy session is highly individualized.
Nahal Haghbin is an Integrative Yoga Therapist in training from the Kripalu School of Integrative Yoga Therapy and a globally certified Yoga Alliance Yoga Teacher based in China. She conducts lectures, private and group asana and consultations on Yoga & Integrative Yoga Therapy in person and online. Book an online yoga session with her.