I’m a counsellor, psychotherapist and trainee yoga teacher. I started practising yoga in 2015 and quickly realised I’d discovered something wonderful. It was a whole new way of being and moving centred on accepting myself as I was so I could change. It helped me understand that looking after my body was inseparable from looking after my mind, and vice versa. The power of that self-acceptance became painfully apparent to me really quickly: when a major personal crisis hit in early 2016, yoga was there to support me through it and boy, did I need support.
During my years in counselling training, the parallels between yoga and talking therapy became increasingly clear. If counselling is the process of finding our authentic selves (which is not the same as blindly following every single impulse), then we might say that yoga is the process of figuring out how we want to move and what feels right for our bodies (which is not the same as flopping around without any kind of structure). So whether I’m in a counselling session or a yoga class, I can feel safe in the knowledge that I’m enough and that the other person will guide me with empathy and understanding towards whatever it is that I need to do.
Both as a counsellor and a yoga teacher, I need to remember that I can’t know exactly what the other person needs in any given moment because they are the ultimate authority on their own experience. What I can do for them is create a space where they can safely explore, provide them with support for the difficult bits, and use my general knowledge of bodies and minds to facilitate their connection with their own unique body and mind. I’m not interested in barking orders or getting people into good-looking shapes. I am interested in helping people relax, which is harder than it sounds, and find nourishing movement that serves them well, so they can live with ease.