I am so passionate about integrating yoga therapy with psychotherapy.  My own personal experiences led me to personally experience the benefit of this combination when all other traditional avenues had failed to help me.  I just finished reading a wonderful book called "Oneness and Separateness" and thought I would share my personal response to a few quotes from the book as it really highlights my passion for yoga therapy and psychotherapy.  I hope that by sharing my personal stories, I can help others who may be experiencing chronic or acute pain and have not perhaps considered the possibility of emotional sources.


Kaplan, Louise, J.  (1978).  Oneness and Separateness.

“It is true that all too frequently the frantic activity of our civilized mind alienates us from our bodies.”  p.55

“And when the forces of civilization wrench us from our biological roots, the body asserts its passions, making itself heard in migraines, ringing ears, back spasms, intestinal ulcers, wry necks heart anginas, stiffening joints, viruses, eczemas, warts, tics, rages, irritability, impotence, tension, panic and quivering apprehensions.” p.55

Personal Response:

I feel like I could write pages on these 2 quotes!  I am so passionate about the connection between the mind and body and the effects of too much frantic activity of the mind (aka stress, worry, anxiety) on our bodies...  One of the most powerful things that I learned in my yoga teacher training and life, was the quote “The issues are in the tissues”and for me it couldn’t have been more true.  After a devastating personal trauma, I found myself suffering from an inability to sleep and incredible pain in my neck and shoulders.  There was so much tension and despite frequent visits to massage therapists and my osteopath, the pain was not relieved and in fact became worse with symptoms radiating down my arms resulting in numbness and tingling in my arms, hands, fingers and even into my legs.   I was worried that I was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis or some other disease, the symptoms were so bad.  After seeing multiple professionals with no “cure”, I finally found relief from yoga.  What I didn’t realize was that it was the crying and release that came with my yoga class that was probably the most helpful!  Every time I lay in sivasana in yoga, I would be overcome with grief and was unable to hide my tears. I would leave the class with sunglasses on to conceal my sadness and then bawl in the car.  This was the best thing for me and I didn’t realize it until much later!  When I did my yoga teacher training, my teacher’s twin sister who was a psychotherapist and just so happened to be my personal psychotherapist, came in to our group.  She mentioned that quote -the issues are in the tissues and I realized that the pain I was feeling in my body was likely due to the emotional duress I was under.  This was further confirmed in a later experience I had in therapy....I had a horrible stabbing pain in my back behind my shoulder blade and had taken a break from yoga as I had assumed it was an injury from my intense training.  It started to feel better and then as I waited in the parking lot at my therapists reading my “homework”, a letter she had asked me to write that was very painful, I noticed the pain came back.  I mentioned this in her office and she asked me to close my eyes and feel the pain and describe it.  I felt it and told her that when I breathed deeply into the area, it helped to alleviate it.  She instructed me not to try to breathe the pain away but rather to REALLY FEEL it..... to feel it fully.  As soon as I did that, I burst into tears.  She explained that I was experiencing pain in the area of the body that stores grief and holding in my grief was causing me the physical pain I was experiencing.  Once I felt the pain and allowed myself to cry and release some of that held pain, I felt so much better.  Now when I experience  a particularly stressful or emotional event, I notice where I feel it in my body and when I am in a safe, private, place I allow myself a good cry to release that held tension. It really has done wonders for me.  I also believe so passionately in the benefits of yoga for my mental health.  Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or overly emotional I go within and practice yoga and it is so helpful for me.  It was the discovery of the powerful combination of yoga and psychotherapy that has brought me to become a yoga instructor and started me on the path to becoming a yoga therapist and psychotherapist!   And I couldn’t be more grateful!  

I truly believe that the only way to get over bad feelings is to truly FEEL THEM.  So often we bury negative emotions....because we are ashamed, embarassed or simply because that is what our society encourages us to do...."man up", "suck it up"....  but in my experiences, the only way to truly get over bad feelings is to honour them by truly feeling them.  So....if you are sad.  Feel sad.   If you are angry.  Feel angry.  This doesn't mean you need to cry and yell in public but take the time, find a safe place or a safe friend and truly express your feelings....feel them. 


Let me know how it goes!!!



Melissa Pearson




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