Yoga and mindfulness derive from rich traditions that have enhanced the quality of life and enriched the wisdom of the soul. These practices can be valuable additions to most current forms of therapy. As a mind-body practice, yoga and mindfulness change the brain, alter thinking, balance emotions, open sensory experiencing, and foster awareness. With the ever-growing body of neuroscience and research, you can feel confident in making yoga and mindfulness part of your therapeutic journey.
Yoga and mindfulness have many positive effects on the mind and body. Their practices lead to a calmer and more alert mind and a healthier and more flexible body. Their healing effects have been experienced for millennia, and give us a rationale for incorporating these practices into psychotherapy. Modern neuroscience provides even more evidence. Research helps to pinpoint the ways yoga and mindfulness are therapeutic. We describe the ancient philosophies and contemporary research. This chapter also provides a strong and well-researched rationale for why yoga and mindfulness are useful interventions to integrate into commonly used therapeutic approaches.
The West is known for having a practical, behavioral orientation to life. We take pride in doing what is efficient and effective. Pragmatism, a philosophy that guides Western thought, is concerned with what is useful, what works. In the East, the driving effort has been toward enlightenment, higher knowledge, and spirituality. Working together with East and West, you harvest a vast, deep reservoir for psychological growth.
Yoga is ageless and timeless. What makes yoga unique is that it is a practical system, not only a philosophy or religion. The result is that you get something out of practicing yoga: health, self-discipline, and raised consciousness.
Yoga disciplines the mind and body by combining physical exercise and meditation. By doing the exercises, you learn how to hold your mind and direct it at will wherever and to whatever you choose.