Why Yoga Isn’t Therapy



But yoga is therapeutic

and yoga is often healing

and now there is ‘yoga therapy’, so what do you mean yoga isn’t therapy?


Therapy is an agreement between the therapist and the client to enter into a therapeutic relationship where the therapist will focus on that individual client, assist them to unpack their personal unconscious material, to help bring it to light for psychological/ emotional integration. The therapist has specific training to offer that service and it is up to the therapist to be clear with their boundaries so the client does not enter into transference, or can reclaim such projections as much as possible eg. when the client wants the therapist to be a surrogate parent while unresolved childhood material is surfacing. (Group therapy also exists, however for the purpose of this explanation, I’ll refer to just individual therapy.)

Yoga means union & so it is meant to be about the experience of inner union. Yoga is both a science & an art of self actualisation. It is a process of experiencing inner union, facilitated by a qualified Yoga Instructor who enters into an agreement with a student to provide instruction and sacred space for a student to learn the yoga. In that, the yoga Instructor is providing the opportunity for the student to give themselves a therapeutic experience. Although a student may be processing emotional material internally, the student does not expect the Instructor to be their therapist. The Instructor doesn’t usually get involved in the internal dialogue of what a student is experiencing, but provides a space where the student gets to be present to their own inner workings. This approach allows the yoga practice itself to be an alchemical experience – one where inner healing is possible.


In some traditional yoga schools, they teach Instructors to be quite removed of empathic connection with students, with the intention to push a student towards their capacity to go beyond their limits. It’s also often quite regimented and is experienced by many women as a little military-like. With Tigress Yoga being a feminine approach for authentic yogini practice, we consciously break that tradition, by offering human warmth and deeply empathic, womanly presence in a feminine atmosphere. It isn’t to be confused with therapy though, because each woman present is essentially learning how to self-parent via the alchemical practice of Tigress Yoga.


It is our conscious intention to provide that opportunity for a student, via following instructions in the practice itself. We also offer comforting words or eg. a the warm presence of hand behind a woman’s heart when she may be going through an emotional release or even holding her while she cries after class is over. Each student signs a participation agreement at the start of their first class, to give their consent to be touched when appropriate to offer that warmth & also to agree to take responsibility for their own emotions. Our Instructors are aware that many women are learning what that even means, due to the places of unresolved trauma so many people carry. We are not your mother, your father, nor are we available to surrogate for you in any way as Tigress Yoga Instructors. We teach from a place of grounded reality, with guidance and support, because we believe in you, as the powerful and whole women that you all are. 


In our group events, it is not possible to provide individual attention to students that would feel the same as personalised attention in 1:1 therapy sessions. This is why we specify on our terms & conditions that women view before signing up to an event, that our classes don’t replace one on one therapy, when the need arises.  


Something different we offer in Tigress Yoga, aside from the unique womanly yoga itself, is that we consciously work with the field of limbic resonance. What does that mean? The evocative experience of Tigress Yoga encourages a woman’s authentic expression so she can release any unresolved emotion and return to the state of pure feeling and sensory awareness, in present time. It’s an entrainment of her energetic system to develop these pathways of greater presence with herself. When a student feels this deeply empathic field of energy and is journeying through eg. unresolved feelings of not receiving the nourishment from her mother she needed to develop her psyche, she meets the opportunity to learn how to fill that gap not previously provided to her, by showing up for herself and mothering that little girl inside. The danger is in getting lost in a regressed state and wanting or expecting other people or in this case the Instructor, to fill that gap to offer that nurturing she craves. That is actually a very common experience for women to go through in Tigress Yoga and an important place to be aware of for true inner healing or inner union to happen.

We do recommend psycho-therapeutic work that’s in resonance with embodiment practices, to assist students in integrating what may be evoked through experiencing Tigress Yoga, eg. Somatic Psychotherapy or Somatic Experiencing for cases of trauma. This can greatly assist integration of the conscious and unconscious mind in a student as they go about their embodiment pathway.


When internal suffering from the past arises for healing, don’t forget, this is a wonderful thing!


What a beautiful opportunity to identify what is rising up so you can focus on that dynamic and not have it sit as unconscious material within you. It may not be possible to process it all in one yoga session, which is why following it up afterwards with personal therapy is a great idea. Receiving therapy is an act of self care, not weakness or failure. What’s common is that when it arises, a student is sometimes unable to frame it for what it is – material from their past – which is often the case when it’s trauma related. If you haven’t already seen the previous blog article, more on this subject is explained there. (Look out for another blog article coming up on self-regulation, which explains the inner workings of why it’s part of the yoga of self actualisation to learn how to hold space for ourselves in these difficult moments of deep vulnerability.)




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