Yoga therapy can do more than address pathology—it can also be a modality employed for optimal human flourishing. While it’s natural to think of yoga therapy as a potential “fix” for something broken—a painful back, a stiff shoulder, or managing stress or anxiety—yoga therapy is equally about the other end of the spectrum, helping those who are already healthy and happy become even more so.
The International Association of Yoga Therapists defines yoga therapy as, “…the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga.”
This view of “progress toward improved health and well-being” speaks to the application of yoga along a spectrum as a continuum of care. Yoga therapy, in other words, is for those struggling with illness and those that are not.
Positive Psychology is a science that focuses on individual and societal flourishing—on cultivating happiness, strengths, self-esteem, and optimism. In my mind, this field is a natural fit for yoga therapists and teachers. The latest science of positive psychology fits wonderfully with the ancient practice of yoga.
That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that Wholebeing Institute has partnered with YogaFit, the largest yoga fitness education school in the world, to bring positive psychology courses into yoga therapy training programs. As YogaFit builds out a brand new yoga therapy program based on IAYT’s educational standards, the Introduction to Positive Psychology course helps address the mental health training requirements.
The evidence-based field of positive psychology supports many concepts within the YogaFit program, corresponding with several key elements that make the YogaFit style unique, such as The Essence, PEP feedback and Transformational Language—an approach that focuses on words as powerful healing tools.
In the five-week online Introduction to Positive Psychology course, students are exposed to the theoretical and practical implications of a positive focus, the positivity ratio, dealing with painful emotions through acceptance, gratitude and appreciation, and attaining lasting change.
I’m curious … all those yoga teachers and yoga therapists out there, how are you incorporating positive psychology into your practice?
Megan McDonough is CEO of Wholebeing Institute, an educational organization co-founded with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar. WBI is committed to spreading ideas and practices that can help individuals and groups live life to its fullest. Click here for a course listing.
This is such exciting news! I have been creating some of my own interventions for workshops and private sessions that include holding “power poses” that represent a positive emotions after a few minutes of journaling on that emotins. For example, complete the sentence, I experience Serenity…. or I last felt Awe…..Then, choose an asana or any body expression and hold it for 2 minutes while connecting to that emotion in a heartfelt way. So far, good feedback! I also like to throw in research tidbits in my yoga classes, such as to distract from holding plank. Can’t wait to see how this collaboration comes together. I would love to be involved!
Excellent, Liza! After our fun discussion about Fredrickson’s new book Love 2.0, I look forward to more engaging conversations. Thanks for sharing your ideas.
Great stuff Megan!
Did you also hear about laughing yoga?
I haven’t tried it yet, but it sure sounds interesting. I guess it’s also a form of therapy.
Thanks for sharing this ‘positive psychology view’ on yoga!