Updated: Oct 24, 2019
Like many others, I used to think Yoga was for affluent White females with slender bodies and stretchy pants, who enjoyed bending themselves into pretzels. I didn't understand the point, didn't think it was for my body shape, and I felt a bit uncomfortable with the spiritual aspect of Yoga. In grad school I met a woman whose experience teaching Yoga made her want to get her Masters in Counseling. She noticed that women who had trauma in their past often had emotional releases during her classes. This made her want to become a therapist. It made me want to study Yoga.
I asked around and found a Yoga studio with strong recommendations and signed up for a Beginner Series, in which basic principles of Yoga, as well as practical considerations for beginning Yogis were introduced. After four weeks of lecture and preparation, I felt ready to undertake Basic classes, with the understanding that I was to focus on my breath and let it guide me, rather than letting my ego push me to try to keep up with more advanced students.
What freedom I found in following my own body's journey, after a lifetime of feeling pressured to fit in; to look like the others. At the end of each Yoga class I found myself profoundly at peace with myself, and this peace naturally extended to others. I did actually become more flexible physically, but that really was the smallest part of what I gained.
Numerous studies show benefits of Yoga for helping to heal from anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and trauma/PTSD. I now recommend that ALL my clients look into Yoga, or other Mindfulness practices such as Tai chi and Qigong. Using such body/mind practices are valuable adjuncts to psychotherapy.