When I think about the practice of Mindfulness, the image that appears initially is of an individual seated in Lotus position, eyes closed or gazing downward, portraying a sense of peace and calm.Well, yes, but imagine that one can be mindful in many situations and in many positions. Doesn’t Mindfulness actually mean that one is present and fully focused on what’shappening right now?
Without the intrusion of thoughts and feelings from the past or future, or attention taken up with oneself or relationships with others – what’s left is the present moment, wherever and however that is showing up. That moment can feel big or small; it can fill the room or be held in one’s hand. And what, you ask, does this have to do with Yoga Therapy?
Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy (PRYT) is, above all, a present moment experience. The practitioner welcomes you in and invites you to check in with all that is happening for you in the different parts of yourself. You are asked to notice what is affecting you in the moment of now as you sit on the mat.These parts include body sensations, emotions, thoughts, as well as your personal relationship with spirit. It begins with the body and, throughout a yoga therapy session, awareness is brought back to body awareness again and again. And always the intention is centered on whatever is happening in the present moment for the client.
Of course, many times what the client notices are thoughts, feelings or memories connected to some part of his body as it is being moved, held and supported in various yoga postures and movements. So, the experience triggered for the client may be some past event or emotional attachment even though it is connected to the sensations that are present in the moment. What the PRYT practitioner does is to offer an invitation to the client to look a little deeper and explore the memory, thought, feeling or sensation that has been triggered. He or she is supported in this exploration through active listening, and the client decides when and how much to pursue.
The PRYT practitioner and client together move again into the next present moment and see what’s happening there. So, it continues for the course of the session. What makes this more than simply mindful meditation is that the client’s history can be accessed through body movement(s) and explored in the present moment. It is history brought forward, not through speaking about it, but through noticing what is triggered as the body is moved and physically supported by the PRYT practitioner. All this is focused on the moment in which it is happening. The PRYT practitioner is witness and guide to direct the client’s awareness to the experience of the moment. And the amazing voyage of exploration that occurs is possible because the PRYT practitioner has the skill to offer guidance without judgment or interpretation to get in the way of the client’s mindful experience.
So, this is a way to engage in mindfulness practice guided through the experience of the body. It is not easily conveyed through words, much like other mindfulness practices. It can, however, be pointed to so that one’s curiosity is peaked and the invitation extended, to open the door to this new way of experiencing mindfulness through the lens of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy.
So, honestly, are you curious??? If even a little bit, check out Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy for more information about this work or to locate Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioners in your area.
Carol Capper MS, OTR/L is a Certified Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Practitioner and Yoga Teacher, and has been Assistant Program Manager for PRYT since 2006. She has 30 plus years of experience in the field of mental health as a therapist, educator and administrator. She also blogs about yoga and yoga therapy, meditation and mindfulness.