The counselors at PC&CC often help clients create self-care routines to support their progress in therapy. Self-care options can range from reading a single book for pleasure to becoming a regular at a sports club. More and more counselors are reporting that an established yoga practice has helped clients stay on track as they face old wounds and make big life changes in the therapy process.
PC&CC recommends the practitioners at Down Dog Yoga for those wanting to explore the possibilities of this strength-building and spirit-enhancing exercise. Born out of garage near the Georgetown canal in 2003, Down Dog now counts studios in Bethesda and Herndon in addition to its flagship Georgetown space.
Patty Ivey, Down Dog founder and director of teacher development, notes that the studios’ brand of yoga is strenuous and challenging, but also inspirational when approached as one component of a wider-ranging lifestyle commitment. “As the body gets strong, the mind gets strong,” she says, adding that when you train yourself to hold the poses and be present to your body, you also are training your mind to be present to itself. “People are distracted in this culture and yoga helps them become present to all parts of their lives. We develop a higher level of awareness, allowing us to shed old habits, and develop a healthier, happier attitude toward ourselves and others.”
PC&CC Executive Director Carl Siegel is an avid practitioner of this form of yoga and supporter of Ivey and the studio staff. “The instructors at Down Dog gently encourage you to ‘stretch’ into new places physically, emotionally and spiritually,” he says. “They have created an atmosphere that is warm and inviting to people at all levels of growth and development.”
Down Dog’s approach is a “heated vinyasa flow practice” taking place in a room heated to 90-95 degrees, ensuring that the students sweat through their stress while building strength. Emphasizing the benefits of consistency in this practice, Down Dog recommends that students commit to no less than three classes per week. Classes are designed to suit the needs of all levels, with the opportunity for adaptation in every pose that can suit the novice, as well as the more experienced practitioner.
When asked about the value of a yoga practice with respect to psychotherapy, Ivey says they offer similar experiences of self-evaluation and acceptance. She describes the yoga student who doesn’t believe he can hold a certain challenging pose, and pulls away each time, noting that he also might be holding back from taking other risks in his personal life. “When you accept that the only way out is through, fear moves out of your way,” she says.
For more information, please visit Down Dog Yoga at http://downdogpoweryoga.com/