What Yoga Therapy Means to Me by Michele Lawrence

Permission. Self acceptance. Supportive routines. Responsibility. Growth. Healthy choices. The little things, done regularly. Consistency. Self study. Daily practice. Small habits that build lasting change. Improved quality of life. Balance and moderation. Relationship. Increased sensitivity.  Patience. Inner stability. Moments of peace.

These are some of the words that come to mind when I think about what Yoga Therapy means to me. If I were to describe it in a sentence, Yoga Therapy is Yoga embraced by me, in a loving and compassionate way, recognizing where I am on any given day, in any given moment, all parts of me (body, mind, heart, spirit), as a self-healing modality to help me live with more ease and well being.

The Sanskrit term Yoga Chikitsa is said to be the application of Yoga as Therapy. The word Chikitsa literally refers to the application of consciousness (chit) or caring. So I might also say more creatively that Yoga Therapy is the conscious caring of me. All of me. It focuses on what is right with me (vs what is wrong with me) and helps me optimize my well being.

And it’s a slow process, not a quick fix. But it is tender, intimate, and it starts simply and humbly with the acceptance of me as I am, not some future version of me. And it takes into account my age, my stage in life, where I and how live, and my sense of belonging. It meets me where I am and beckons me to reclaim my birthright, who I am meant to be, alive in my fullness.  And the beautiful thing is that in this relationship with myself, I am also more capable in all aspects of my life, and am able to contribute to my family and the people around me, and society as well.

I believe that in this time we are living in there is a real hunger for this type of relationship with one’s self and connection to others. Coming close to so much death and after periods of isolation, why not live out life more fully, with purpose and strength? I believe folks are leaning into a time of great re-calibration.

Recently I was listening to an OnBeing podcast with Dr. Vivek Murthy and neuroscientist Richard Davidson on the Future of Wellbeing. What they shared (which had nothing to do with Yoga Therapy per se) also essentially says the same thing. They say, “in this time, we can’t fully optimize our well-being, we can’t understand how to build a foundation for good health, if we don’t understand the interplay between our mental health, our physical health, our spiritual health.” They go on to say that “I think our bodies are actually, and our minds, are hard-wired for connection, for well-being. We just have to feed it just even a little bit.”

Yes, my Yoga Therapy practice looks like feeding myself even a little bit, every day.

As we step into this new year and what I believe is a great time for re-calibration, I encourage each of you to look at all of you – body, mind, heart, spirit. What feeds you? What’s right with you? What are the supportive routines you can lean on each day to optimize your well being? What are the small habits (asana, pranayama, meditation, mindful eating, sleep/wake routines, time in nature, time in community) that you can implement to build lasting change?

And if you’re curious about sharing this type of guidance with others and what it means to be a Yoga Therapist, join our next Free Informational Webinar on Thursday, January 13 @ 10am MT.

Happy new year everyone.

Yours in Yoga,

Michele Lawrence, Director