Happy New Year Everyone! I first would like to acknowledge that it has been almost 2 months since my last post. I have been actively involved in several new projects that I look forward to sharing here.
This post is based on a workshop that I co-lead with a yoga instructor over the summer. The concept of combining yoga and art therapy is relatively new. I however, have been practicing yoga for almost as long as I have been providing art therapy services. Initially, I began attending yoga classes for exercise and relaxation. Over time, I found so many of the key concepts in yoga to be similar or complementary to the therapeutic benefits of expressive art-making: awareness, grounding, relaxation, self-care, clarity, energizing, balance, intention and more.
While I was enjoying these benefits through my own art-making and yoga practice, I was also learning about the mind-body connection through my work as an art therapist. The mental health and wellness fields have been invested for some time in training and practicing in a more integrated way; treating individuals holistically. There is no doubt with my research and experience that the mind influences the body and the body influences the mind. Of course, stating it that way is helpful for understanding but is not accurate if you truly see the body and mind as one. The distinction is not so clear.
I began to feel that the work I was doing, although using the body (hands, eyes etc.), with art-making was limited. I sought out trainings and read literature about incorporating breathing, mindfulness, movement and yoga into treatment. I was fortunate to be supported in this by my colleagues and supervisors.
Shortly after, I established my private practice- Safe Haven Arts, I learned that a friend of mine had completed yoga teacher training. We discussed the possibility of working together to bring the therapeutic benefits of art therapy and yoga to a larger audience. This past summer, we ran our first group together: “Walking Your Path: Intention, Art and Yoga” at Cornerstone Wellness in Goshen, NY.
We started with a breathing exercise and then moved into a discussion about intention. Participants “set their intention(s)” at the beginning of the hour long yoga sequence.
Participants then chose and developed a mandala taken from the breathing exercise, that included contributions from the whole group. They were asked to develop the mandalas using collage materials and to focus on their original intention.
Follow-up questions and discussion led to bonding between group members and identification of ways to continue pursuing their intentions beyond the group.
Further workshops are being planned for this Spring and Summer. Locations to be determined. Please share and respond to this post.