Social Work Programs

June 13, 2011

Social Work Or Yoga

Filed under: social work or yoga — Tags: , — admin @ 1:27 pm

social work or yogaAs both a social worker and someone who teaches yoga, I’ve been asked which is recommended for real change and inner growth. People complain of friends who have been in psychotherapy for years yet seemed to have made no progress. It is true that for some, therapy can become a routine and may be used as a setting to blame others, get validations for one’s point of view or find an outlet to vent.

This isn’t due to the nature of the therapeutic process but one’s relation to it and intention. It is good to go into one’s session with an intent to examine one’s own assumptions, question one’s reactions and be tired of certain self-defeating behaviors. This creates the fuel for change. Being challenged always has an aspect of discomfort, but therapy isn’t useful when it’s just a dumping ground for blame and complaints. That may create a sense of temporary relief, but it doesn’t get at the root of looking into the emotional responses that occur on a daily basis.


Yoga has a benefit of clearing out the habitual responses and getting to detach from the “monkey mind”. Through breathing, yoga poses and, meditation and deep relaxation the inner dialogues often quiet down or stop for a bit. This helps one to see that a large part of each day is spent revolving around in our mental routines which can lead to certain negative states of mind. Also, developing compassion often part of each yoga class where others may be visualized during a meditation.

Nonetheless, our usual perspective often returns a few hours after a yoga class or practice. We can slip right back into anger and impatience and feel stuck again. I think a combination of therapy with something that helps to clear the mind (such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, pilates ) is useful. In the therapy, the reactions can be examined with honesty. One has a bit of detachment by practicing a discipline such as yoga or meditation. This makes it harder to go as wholeheartedly into the, “I hate him” type of knee-jerk states of mind. Practicing a spiritual discipline, or even a strong form of exercise such as swimming, can often help us to not want to get stuck in dark and turgid emotions. It seems better to find ways to laugh, be present, change the perspective or focus on something productive than to dwell and obsess about someone’s faults. Therapy also is a good setting to see how we contribute to a situation. Are we provoking the person we dislike unconsciously? Does the person remind us of someone in the past? Can we change our situation if we don’t think we can be in that setting without being in a negative state of mind often?

Osho said,” The moment you become a little distant from the mind — that’s what meditation is, creating a distance between you and the mind — you start feeling a new climate, the climate of contentment. Suddenly there is no hankering for anything. Suddenly the future is no more your interest, the past is no more your obsession. whatsoever you have seems to be so fulfilling; it may not be much but it seems so fulfilling. Even ordinary things of life can give such tremendous contentment that one could have never believed it before. Just sipping a cup of tea is more than one can ask for, or just breathing or just listening to the wind passing through the pine trees or just the moon reflected on the water.”

Try to incorporate both self-inquiry and practices that help the body and mind to relax so that the habitual responses can be overcome. Use the therapy sessions as a way to get feedback on yourself and this will give you more peace than getting agreement about others being the cause of the problems.

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