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Somatic Psychotherapy - An Ancient Practice for an Anxious New Age

  • Hornsey Road Baths Apartments, Platform 2 Tiltman Place London, N7 United Kingdom (map)

Alex Cat will be presenting to the NHS Practitioner Health Program.

Somatic Psychotherapy - An Old Practice for an Anxious New Age

From the 90s onwards Yoga has been the fitness industry’s cash cow, promising everything from a washboard stomach to spiritual renewal.

But what exactly is it and how does it work?

Ashtanga Yoga is one of the oldest recorded systems for promoting moral, ethical and psychological health. In the first, theoretical section of the workshop we will explore this practice and draw out the links between it and later developments in contemporary psychologies.

In particular we will address how it provides the ‘missing’ link between mindfulness practices and talking psychotherapies for those of us living with anxiety, stress or depression.

Being in a meditative state is one in which the analytical mind is irrelevant. For this reason it is necessary for practitioners to move beyond ‘thinking about’ meditation and to experience it directly. The second portion of the workshop will therefore be experiential.

You will be guided through a carefully structured sequence of asana (postures) that will help bring to life the concepts we have introduced. Depending on practitioners physical capacities we will take Adho Mukha Vrksasana - handstand - as our exploratory pose.

The intention is for all practitioners to leave the workshop with a much clearer understanding of yoga as a psychological practice. This may be used to transform a traditional ‘gym’ yoga class into an explicitly therapeutic experience.

In addition you will be left with a number of easy to access ‘off the mat’ practices that are extremely useful in helping us manage the day to day pressures of modern life.

  • Please come to the workshop expecting to think, feel, sweat and laugh.
  • Handouts and reading lists will be provided.
  • Clothes should be comfortable, non-restrictive and not so baggy that the outline of the body is obscured.

Mats will be provided or else you may bring your own.

Introductory Reading:

There has been an exponential growth in research and writing on all forms of body based therapies, including yoga. For students looking for an introduction to the area I recommend:

  • Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body - David Emerson
  • The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma - Babette Rothschild
  • Trauma and Recovery - Judith Herman
  • 8 Limbs of Yoga: Pathway to Liberation - Bhava Ram
  • The Yoga Sutras - Patanjali