Over the years as a psychiatrist, I have been eager to become skilled in strategies beyond medication that can help my patients. I always tell my patients that their treatment plan is like a pie–and medication is only one slice of that pie. Psychotherapy, sleep, diet, exercise, meditation, yoga etc. are additional important slices. I point out how empowering it is that the majority of those slices of the pie are within the patient’s control. Sometimes medication is necessary to lessen symptoms to the point that those strategies are accessible to patients, but medication alone is never the complete solution in my opinion.
For more than a year, I have been getting training in yoga practices that are helpful for anxiety, depression and trauma. And of course, there are additional benefits in terms of overall well being, flexibility, etc. My introduction to the clinical applications of yoga began with multiple trainings I participated in to learn LifeForce Yoga (www.yogafordepression.com). The trainees were a mix of psychotherapists and yoga teachers. I learned a great deal about meditation, breathing practices, yoga poses and other therapeutic practices. However, as I was not an officially trained yoga teacher, the yoga that I could bring to clinical practice was limited. To overcome this, I completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training last summer, and am now a certified yoga teacher (RYT-200). As a result, I am able to incorporate yoga into my therapy with patients and have dedicated a corner of my office to these practices. In the future I hope to lead yoga classes at CPCH for interested patients.
My personal journey with yoga has been significant. Initially I found yoga intimidating on a spiritual and physical level, but I soon learned that yoga is accessible to everyone. Every pose is modifiable, every breathing technique gets easier with practice. I discovered that a daily yoga practice of 20-30 minutes significantly improved my insomnia. Overall, it has been a foundational tool for stress reduction that I now enjoy sharing with others. I don’t always succeed in doing yoga as often as I would like, but it’s always there for me. It’s just a matter of showing up on the mat as often as I can. Namaste.