Since the practice of yoga has become mainstream, a growing number of people rely on its healing benefits to cope with life’s challenges. Under supportive circumstances, yoga can undoubtedly lift our spirits, release overwhelming emotion, and teach, through heightened awareness, how to cultivate a less judgmental and more peaceful relationship with ourselves.
At one point or another, you might have heard a friend or fellow practitioner exclaim, “Yoga is my therapy!” Maybe you’ve even said the words yourself. In a recent article on Refinery29, one woman shared her frustration with the practice when it failed to fulfill her high expectations: “I’d been thinking yoga had to be everything: a workout, a therapy session, a place to meet friends, a part-time job.” At her lowest point she felt a “rage bubble” surface inside of her during class, she wrote: “The frustration was as sticky as the mat under my feet, and it was preventing my mind from quieting down.”
It begs the question: Should yoga really be equated to therapy? And, at a higher level, does having such lofty hopes about the practice’s transformative powers diminish our ability to actually experience change?
A devoted long-term yoga practitioner would likely agree that yoga in its essence is innately therapeutic, and scientific literature has backed this up. We know that meditation on a most basic level decreases stres…