These series of articles touch upon content of my recent book “Essential Yoga Therapy”, written for everyone involved using yoga for healing. Please join me on a journey of mind-body anatomy and physiology relevant to yoga therapy!
Merel Martens – Founder Parimukti Yoga & Meditation India
THE KEY FACTOR FOR A SUCCESSFUL YOGA THERAPIST? BE HUMBLE.
My book is a true reflection of what I have been occupied with over the last decade and a half or so: I grew up in the Netherlands, have studied and practiced Western medicine, yoga, Ayurveda and Buddhism and live in India since a couple of years.
Having worked and travelled the continents of Central & South-America and Africa as well, I have come to understand that it is more accurate to talk about the ‘stubbornly single-minded approach’, or the ‘open-minded, receptive approach’. The first is a reference to health professionals who take their approach as the Holy Grail, rather than acknowledging that their methods are only a tool to help the individual sitting in front of them.
Although I have chosen not to pursue a career as a ‘Western’ medical doctor, Western medicine has its place and function. I have a lot of respect for my friends who now work in modern healthcare settings, trying to give as much attention, care and love to their patients as possible within the limited time that they are allowed per patient. I am thrilled when they tell me that they advise yoga and meditation to their patients, if they have the slightest feeling that a particular patient may be receptive and open to that idea. The same goes for me; if somebody approaches me for help with their depression but really feels that they want to stay on their medication, I would be last to push them to quit. We’d rather find a way of using the wisdom and practices from the Yoga Tradition along with their ‘regular’ treatment.
In my opinion; there is no single quick fix. Everyone is a unique individual with a specific makeup and arrangement of patterns, behaviours and physique. Listening carefully, feeling with sensibility and allowing intuition to come through are all vitally important aspects of providing effective treatment.
However, these are qualities which are not always appreciated in today’s society. Knowledge of science and theory are much more highly valued in almost every aspect of our lives. However, as a yoga therapist, your foundation is your own path and source of development. You have to do your own practice, your own spiritual routine. The fact that our work is rooted in knowledge and personal experience makes yoga therapy so powerful. This also implies that we need to be well aware of the limits of our abilities, acknowledging and valuing any other kinds of treatment options if necessary.
When you want to help somebody (as a yoga therapist) I think humbleness and the ability to drop your own beliefs is the most important step. This allows you to be fully receptive to the present state of the other. From there, you will feel whether you are the right person at the right time. You will feel if you have to be gentle and soothing, or ask the difficult questions at that moment.