Written by: Sonia Heidenreich, LGSW
As most of my clients already know, I also work as a yoga teacher when I’m not here being a therapist. (If you want to learn more about why, or hear my thoughts about the wide-ranging benefits of developing a mindfulness-based yoga practice, head on over here!) To summarize: Yoga helps us to develop a new, more compassionate relationship to our physical bodies, gives us an avenue through which to explore and process emotions nonverbally, and teaches us that we are strong enough to withstand challenging moments or physical sensations without becoming reactive. There are million other things yoga teaches us: choice, courage, agency, dedication—the list goes on.
A few people have asked me how to get started, and have mentioned feeling intimidated by attending public classes, or feeling dissatisfied with classes they have gone to. With that in mind, I’d like to offer some resources I’ve come across to get started:
Rachel Brathen, an Instagram-famous yogi-turned-entrepreneur, launched OneOEight, an amazingly curated online platform that has videos from lots of different instructors, in many different styles. I really appreciate the range of styles, from gentle restorative classes, to more vigorous flowing sequences. You can easily search for sequences that focus on whatever you’d like to work on—core strength, chest opening, lower body strengthening, or whatever it is feel your body needs. You can access it all for free for a week, which I recommend doing to figure out what styles of yoga or types of teachers you enjoy.
Sonima Wellness is another great resource for yoga tutorials and posture breakdowns. There aren’t as many videos to be found here, but it’s helpful if you want to learn more about specific poses. They also have recipes and other wellness-related resources, so it’s worth checking out!
If you’re looking for more videos or posture breakdowns, Yoga Journal is a great place to look. I especially like their detailed articles and step-by-step instructions about how to get into various poses—perfect for those who are curious about anatomy and alignment.
Finally, for all the anatomy nerds out there, Jason Crandell’s blog (and podcast) is full of sequences that focus on specific anatomical intentions: hamstring strengthening or lengthening (yes, these are different things and we need to do both things to find strong and safe alignment!), hip opening, and essential yoga sequences like Surya Namaskar A—also known as Sun Salutation A.
If you try any of these resources or would like even more (there are so many more!), I’d love to talk with you.
Written by: Valerie Middleton, FNP
As we approach Thanksgiving it has me thinking about family time and meals. We often go out of our way to spend time with family and sit down to our Thanksgiving meal. What about day to day? Between long work hours, soccer practices, dancing, academics, and keeping up the house it can be very hard to find the time to sit down all together (even if “all together” is just two people) and eat a meal uninterrupted. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefit of eating meals together as a family. Adolescents in particular benefit from the act. Adolescents that eat a meal with at least one parent more days than not each week are less likely to do drugs, less likely to be depressed, less likely to have disordered eating and are more likely to share details of their lives. Adolescents also reported feeling closer to their parent(s). Even when the adolescents reported not enjoying meal times the benefits still existed in the studies.
So let this Turkey day be a new beginning for you and your family. Eat your Thanksgiving meal and talk about how important it is to you that it continues throughout the year. Make a plan to eat together. Pick the days that will work. Write it on a calendar. Get input from all family members so they feel involved. Make it fun! Maybe one day play a game after the meal. Maybe one week meals were too hard to organize so you come up with an alternative activity that is unplugged. It’s so tempting and easy to come home and grab a bite to eat while tuning out the world with T.V., Ipads, Phones, etc. It is convenient to stop by a drive through on your way home from basketball practice or work. Maybe changing this habit a few times a week will not only improve the life of your children but also your life too.
H a p p y T h a n k s g i v i n g
Why Your Questionable Habits Actually Make Sense:A quick and painless explanation of the Biosocial Theory
Written by: Lauren Barris, LCSW-C
Every day, I have the privilege of working with people who are brave enough, insightful enough, and motivated enough to walk through my door and tell me they want to work on themselves. They are often afraid that I will judge them; they are afraid that their behaviors and habits are “crazy,” unjustifiable, inexcusable. I so often find myself wishing that my clients knew just how far from the truth this fear is.
DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) is based in something called the Biosocial Theory. Simply put, it states that people’s behaviors are a function of both their environment and their biology. It posits that people who go on to develop Borderline Personality Disorder are often biologically predisposed to “higher emotional reactivity” and “slower return to baseline" (i.e. they get emotional faster, and take longer to cool off than others). It states that children with predispositions like this, who are brought up in invalidating or abusive environments are more likely to develop difficulties with emotions and relationships later in life.
Imagine you are a kid who runs a little “hot blooded.” You experience something that sets you off - maybe the death of a beloved pet, or a vehement argument between your parents. You react. Strongly. (And justifiably.) Imagine you are then told that your emotions are, perhaps, stupid. Unwarranted. An overreaction. If you are a girl, maybe you begin to earn the label of “oversensitive.” If you are a boy, maybe you’re told to “quit your blubbering,” “man up,” or that “boys don’t cry.” Or maybe, no one reacts at all. Maybe your emotion goes unnoticed, or worse, ignored. Regardless of the form it takes, the lesson learned is loud and clear: Your emotions don’t matter. They are wrong. Your normal expression of emotion does not work to get you what you need.
Any child with their wits about them, when placed in such a situation, learns very fast that in order to get by, they’d better accept that their instinctive emotional response must be wrong, that they cannot trust their gut reaction, and that they’d better figure out what kind of mask to put on to get what they need from their environment: attention, love, acceptance, validation. These are things we all need. But when a child is never taught healthy ways to get these needs met (and when sometimes their not-so-great ways are reinforced), they are likely to continue using ever more creative, and often maladaptive ways of getting what they need. They are likely to earn more hurtful labels over time and may even come to be viewed as “manipulative,” when really they are just doing what they’ve learned to do to get what they need - just like everyone else.
People who are struggling in these ways are often not the type to ask for help, at least not in the ways that inspire most people to jump to their aide. That is why, when I come across a person who has been through all of this confusion, invalidation, and sometimes abuse, who has come to realize that what they are doing is not working for them, who has figured out how to ask for help, and who has decided that they want to put in the work to learn a new way, I am nothing short of honored to be able to work alongside them on that journey.
PS: This post touches very briefly on subject matter that is complex and not fully developed on this page. If you are curious about this topic and would like to discuss it in more depth, feel free to reach out to Innovative Psychiatry. You can also stay tuned for future posts that will elaborate more on related topics.