Yoga and psychology are two fields that I am super passionate about. I love to integrate modern science with ancient philosophy, and insights from clinical practice with an experiential therapeutic approach.
Why yoga and psychology need each other
As Mariana Caplan, author of Yoga & Psyche, said: “The extraordinary thing is that when we bring together the brilliance of the two streams of knowledge and practices of yoga and psychology, the potentials are endless. Because the knowledge is awakened within one’s own body, deep psyche, and spirit, there is no end to the possibilities for one’s growth and deepening. Together these two disciplines form a seamless weave of knowledge and practices that are applicable on a minute-to-minute basis, whether in the yoga studio, therapy room, or practiced during the rush of the activities of life.”*
In her book, she describes why yoga needs psychology and vice versa. To summarize, she states that yoga provides a uniquely detailed body of teachings that addresses the domain of consciousness (psyche) itself. It also focuses on existential questions with respect to the nature of awareness, the purpose of life, and how to live ethically and well. One of the wonderful things of the yogic perspective, according to Caplan, is that it does not ultimately separate psychological and spiritual wellbeing.
However, yoga rarely addresses common issues in Western culture: trauma, anxiety, depression etc. Psychology takes into account differences and diversity in the challenges we encounter in our individual lives. Yoga offers internal practices for transformation that excludes no one. Psychology and yoga thus complement each other when we apply yogic philosophy and practice on our individual psychological functioning.
Integrating yoga and psychology
If you are a yoga practitioner, you may have noticed that it does not only affect the body, but also the mind. Yoga sparks an ongoing process of self-awareness, self-care and self-realization. Therefore it promotes health and wellbeing at all levels.
That’s why I strongly believe in yoga as a holistic approach to mental health and wellbeing, which is what we may call yoga therapy.
Do you share the passion and curiosity about yoga and psychology with me? And would you like to share your knowledge and experience in integrating both worlds? I will organize a monthly brainstorm session on Sunday through the Network Yoga Therapy Community: Yoga Therapy for Psychologists. We’ll explore a different theme each time, and you are most welcome to share your ideas.
In the first session on November 22, we will dive deeper into the question: How do yoga and psychology complement each other? You’re invited to think about this on beforehand so we can exchange thoughts during the session. I would love to see you there!
You can sign up (for free) for the community here.
*further reading: Yoga and Psyche – The Birth of a Field