Let’s Talk About Yoga: How to Use Restorative Poses to Help Your Clients Open Up and Experience Heal
I started practicing yoga when I was fourteen years old, and it’s been a part of my life ever since. Although I started practicing for my own benefit, yoga has become an essential element of my techniques as a therapist. It seems every time I go to a yoga class or workshop, I add another technique to my arsenal.
Throughout the years, yoga has had a profound effect on me, which is why I feel so strongly about incorporating it while working with my clients. As I’ve seen the benefits of yoga in real life results with my clients, I’d like to share how I use it in a therapy session and answer some common questions about how to bring yoga to your clients.
Q: When do you bring yoga into a session?
I use yoga when I feel like a client would benefit from shifting their focus to their physical body instead of being stuck in their head. If I can see they’re unable to shift focus or they’re trying very hard to understand something or figure something out I will use yoga to help them become relaxed and re-centered. Using restorative poses can provide the mental shift needed to loosen up and uncover something new.
Q: How do you use yoga in a session?
First, I educate the client on how yoga can open them up to a new way of thinking which can allow them to understand something in a new way. I always make sure they are willing to give it a try; it is not something a person should be forced into. Yoga requires an open mind. So if they are hesitant, I won’t use it for that client.
Q: What does yoga in a session look like?
I only utilize static, restorative yoga poses in my sessions. While some clients could benefit by being guided through a flow from pose to pose, I know I can help them focus inward with the calming, restorative poses. I keep a yoga mat, yoga blocks, and a bolster in my office for them to use. These are a few of my favorite poses to use and would be a great place to start when introducing yoga to your clients for the first time.
Child’s Pose This pose is great when a client would benefit from a feeling of comfort and safety. It’s the perfect pose to use for exploring self-care and examining personal needs.
Modified Fish I use this pose when a client could use some help opening up their heart and is also great for helping them explore vulnerability.
Legs Up The Wall I like this pose to help my clients experience restoration and also to help move stagnant energy.
Q: What do you do in addition to yoga poses?
Once the client is positioned properly, I ask questions like “What are you noticing? What is coming up for you here? What does your body have to say?”
Q: How do you transition in and out of doing yoga in a session?
I have the client sit, breathe deeply, and tune in to what they are noticing both before and after doing yoga. Afterward, I ask them how they feel in comparison to before doing yoga, and in which ways they are feeling different or similar to how they did at the beginning.
If you want to delve further into the beautiful possibilities of using therapy and yoga together, check out my live events and attend one of my yoga + therapy workshops! I would love to have you there.
Now I’d like to hear from you. Have you ever used yoga with one of your clients? If so, what poses are your favorite? I’d love to hear about your experiences!