Meditation for Mental Health

Meditation Yoga for Mental Health

The manual for this was written by Jen O’Brien (Psychotherapist) and Christina Browning (Therapeutic Yoga Teacher).

Aims of the course

The group will engage in a complete mind/body experience that will allow you to develop personalised self-care strategies for your mental health. These group sessions will help you to understand and recognise how you can improve your health by using breath, movement and mindfulness practices to help 'mind your mind' in daily life.

This course was designed through the integration of psychotherapy and yoga. The psychotherapy model that this course has been developed from is Cognitive Analytical Therapy (CAT). CAT is an integrated collaborative model in which the therapist and client work towards developing a shared formulation that describes how a client thinks, feels and experiences the world and the relationships that underlie this experience. We call this your CAT map. These deeply ingrained relational patterns are enacted in relationships with others and oneself. In yoga we bring these relational patterns into our yoga practice as we enact these patterns through the quality of the relationship we experience with not only the asana (postures), pranayama (breath), and meditative practices but also with our teachers.

The overall aim of integrating yoga with your current therapy is to support you to gain an increased understanding of your helpful and unhelpful patterns so that you are more likely to be able to engage in the patterns that are helpful and improve your quality of life. If you have a CAT map that you have developed within your psychotherapy sessions then we will ask you to reflect on this to consider how you experience these patterns during the session and how you may work towards more helpful patterns; deliberately linking this with yoga.

Building on the work that you have done in your psychotherapy sessions we explore self-care strategies that can be individualised to your needs and be added to your self-care toolkit. Ultimately helping you to move towards ‘helpful patterns’ which you are also working on in your psychotherapy sessions, thus combining these two practices can provide powerful change.

The group aspect provides a supportive environment where we will engage in useful yoga practices and then reflect on how to integrate these day to day.

No prior Yoga experience is required. Yoga sessions are focused on breath and integrating psychological practices and therefore physical poses are gentle and accessible for all.

Aims of the course:

  • To develop a foundational understanding of yoga psychology and how traditional yoga practices of breath, movement and mindfulness can improve your mental health

  • Explore how these practices (breath, movement and yogic mindfulness) can be tailored to your individual needs

  • Reflect, understand and experience how engaging in these health practices and patterns can improve your mental health

Structure of each session

Each session includes:

A breath centered yoga practice to support stability in the body and calmness in the mind. Self care tips and tools will also be given to integrate the practice into daily life. We will use the majority of the session time to experience these practices.

Education about mental health symptoms, psychology and yoga psychology and how to integrate yogic mindfulness practices into day to day life. Individuals will also learn about how yoga psychology integrates with the western psychological concepts that they are engaging with in their individual therapy sessions, so that they can apply yoga practice to their own unique situations.

We will trial different yoga practices throughout the course and then we will think about how these integrate with your own understanding of yourself, and how you can use these day to day to improve your health. Each session ends with a brief discussion as an opportunity to integrate the experience into understanding. This is where we will ask you to reflect on your CAT maps (and what you know about your patterns) to identify specific practices and strategies that work for you. Hence, you will slowly develop your own individual tool kit of yoga practices that work for you. The sessions are deliberately scaffolded in that each session builds on the next session.

Themes

Each session has a theme that is connected to the common issues that present for people who experience stress, anxiety and low mood.

  • Grounding

  • Perspective

  • Strength

  • Release

  • Balance

  • Integration

During each session please engage in the practices as you feel comfortable. At any stage feel free to take a break or sit out if you are feeling like you need this. All yoga practices should be engaged within a manner that feels safe and comfortable, while still feeling somewhat challenged.