For many yogis, pigeon pose offers a stretch so deep and confronting that years of unresolved issues can come rushing to the surface. In fact, it’s not that uncommon to hear quiet sobbing or even outright crying during a yoga class as someone finally touches upon emotions that haven’t seen the light in decades.
Now, according to this Times post from Alana B. Elias Kornfeld, a new field of yoga and psychology is beginning to emerge to help people unearth and cope with their emotional material. Appropriately named, yoga therapy classes begin with breathing techniques and meditation and are followed by poses and stretches geared more towards a person’s particular needs. The class ends with talk therapy.
A typical yoga-therapy session with Dr. Elizabeth Visceglia, a psychiatrist and yoga therapist based in New York City, often starts with some kind of breath work — energizing breaths for people who are depressed, balancing breaths for those with anxiety. Then patients practice yoga poses geared to their specific needs. People with severe posttraumatic stress disorder, for example, are prone to losing their sense of being in the room when they experience a vivid reliving of their trauma. So Visceglia has them hold simple grounding positions, like the warrior or chair pose, before transitioning into talk therapy.
Read more from Kornfeld about meditation and yoga therapy here.