Welcome to Awareness Counseling
Elle Garfield, LMSW

Yoga Class/Group

How a Yoga Class or Group Can Help You Stay Connected

With yoga mat in hand, Rose rushed from her car to the door of the yoga studio. Not wanting to be late she hurried in just in time for the next class. As she rolled out her mat and saw that the class had not yet started, she wondered if she had time to send a few text messages…

Connection and Serenity

One of the best things about yoga is that you don’t need very much of anything to get started. It doesn’t require any high tech gadgets or fancy equipment. A yoga mat is nice but even that isn’t absolutely necessary. Really all you need is the space to stretch out and the willingness to “unplug” from all your phones, ipods, computers, etc.

Anxiety often drives that push to do just one more thing, to seek more and more ways to connect and feel safe but our fast paced, high tech world isn’t always the most efficient in helping us achieve what we most want: a sense of connection and a feeling of peace and serenity. In fact it is when you slow down, become aware of your breathing and notice what’s going on inside that you are most connected and peaceful. Practicing yoga and mindfulness in a group setting is a wonderful way to tap into a resource that doesn’t require an internet connection.

Taking A Yoga Class

A yoga class can be a small or large group (4-40 people) that participants can attend any time. Very similar to other types of group exercise classes yoga classes offer the student an opportunity to practice poses and learn some of yogic philosophy in a group setting. Students may pay a fee for just one class or sign up for a series of classes. A class description will usually be given to help you find your level of experience (beginners to advanced). A teacher directs the students to come into each pose and also teaches students correct breathing and how to connect the mind to the body with the breath. Some demonstrations are given for more difficult poses but mainly the teacher encourages listening to the cues so that students remain focused on their breath. Sometimes the teacher will encourage students to assist another student in a pose but mostly there isn’t very much interaction between students in a class. Many yoga studios offer a variety of class times and a range of styles of yoga to fit every preference and schedule. Most health clubs also offer yoga classes.

Joining Yoga Group Therapy

A psychotherapy group that uses elements of yoga and mindfulness, is a small group (6-8 people) that meets weekly with a trained group therapist/yoga teacher. It differs from a yoga class in that it addresses issues arising from your emotional body and each member commits to attending weekly.  During the first session group rules are established to create a safe container for everyone to feel comfortable sharing their feelings and experiences. Confidentiality is very important in feeling safe. During group there will be time for yogic breathing, poses and practice with mindfulness as well as an opportunity for members to share their experience and to process what is happening in their lives. Participants decide what they want to talk about, sharing and listening to others they learn new ways to relate to each other. This is a great way to reconnect with yourself and improve your relationships. Through the course of group, members learn how to create a safe space for themselves, to bring balance to the emotional body, learn practices that energize reducing feelings of depression and practices that calm feelings of anxiety. The easy, gentle movements and breathing practices bring more prana (life force energy) into the body, encouraging feelings of connection and wholeness. Participants will also learn they are not alone in what they are experiencing and have the opportunity to relate to people differently in a safe environment with a trained therapist available to help as needed.

Prevention and Treatment  

What happens when all the distractions of technology keep us unconscious of what is happening inside? We can lose touch with how we feel, we start to base our decisions on information outside of us and start to ignore signals that can help us navigate our lives. More and more stress build and anxiety or depression result. Finding a yoga class can help prevent stress from becoming debilitating. Group therapy with elements of yoga and mindfulness can help restore wholeness when anxiety/depression are holding you back. Both groups help us find the fun and joy in being human as you recognize your own and others value, strength and start making choices for a better life.

…By the end of  class, Rose felt relaxed and renewed. As she slowly lifted herself up from sivasana (corpse pose) she looked around her and smiled at the woman on the mat next to hers. Her heart felt open and her body felt warm and comfortable. Her mind was calm. With her palms together, thumbs touching her heart center she set her intention for the rest of the day: to stay connected to this peaceful feeling, remain loving with an open heart towards the people she loved without any rush to get back to her phone, computer or the TV.

Contact information regarding groups or classes:

Elle Garfield, ACSW
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