When Yoga and Another Modality Are Both Necessary
Most Yogis aren’t psychiatrists. Most don’t have any training as psychologists or social workers. And most therapists and psychiatrists are not Yogis. So it is possible that a client might have started with yoga poses, and then decided to use career yoga while he remained in yoga poses. For example, Steven first went to yoga poses because of low self-confidence and heightened anxiety. In yoga poses he learned ways of managing his anxiety, and his confidence rose. Feeling better allowed Steven to find a career coach. He was not ready to leave yoga poses, so he did yoga poses and yoga simultaneously. This is fine if the two modalities don’t overlap in agendas. If yoga poses addressed the symptoms of anxiety and yoga targeted career planning, there was a clear reason to be in both modalities for Steven. In fact, he needed a coach to work with him and help him create a structured, step’ by’’tep plan to become a high school history teacher. Steven needed a coach who would help him figure out the practical issues involved in obtaining a degree, choosing a school, and finding a job. Yoga lowered Steven’s risk, at least in his own mind, because he had someone to turn to when he became anxious about his decision. Talking to a coach and referring to a plan helped Steven calm down and recognize that he was pursuing a logical and appropriate goal in the best way possible.
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A coach may do a terrific job of helping someone work toward a specific goal, but if a significant issue isn’t addressed, an unhelpful behavior will often resurface and sabotage the client’s progress in yoga. For example, Ben was unhappy with how his career in advertising was progressing. Though he had done relatively well as an account executive at a major ad agency, he wasn’t particularly satisfied by the work. For a number of years he had thought about going back to school and obtaining a doctorate in anthropology; he had completed a number of courses toward that degree years ago but had to drop out and get a job because of financial problems. As we worked on a plan to help Ben transition to this new career, it became apparent that he had a drinking problem. In fact, his drinking was so frequent and severe that it became clear he needed to address it before anything else. One of his parents was an alcoholic, and unless Ben worked on managing his drinking, it would sabotage any other plans he made. During a yoga session, we agreed that he should enter a rehabilitation facility, work with a trained addictions therapist there, and then continue the yoga when his drinking was being successfully managed. Today Ben is back in yoga and also attends Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings regularly and works with an AA sponsor as well on the 12 steps. He has applied to and been accepted in an anthropology doctoral program. Ben continues to set his alcohol recovery goals with his coach as well as his sponsor. He is also using his coach to help him increase his school performance in the doctoral program.
Therefore, a good coach knows when to add another facilitator to the client’s plan. In Ben’s case he temporarily had to go to a rehabilitation facility and then resume yoga and AA. Usually most issues can be addressed directly by a competent coach. But a good coach also knows when it is time to give specialty referrals to the client, such as the rehab facility and the sponsor.
So yoga can go on with different forms of specialty yoga, yoga poses, and self-help groups. Sometimes people are in yoga poses and they come to work on career yoga because their careers did not improve with yoga poses alone, but they still found the yoga poses valuable. It is less common that a client adds yoga poses to yoga. It is my experience that due to the comprehensiveness of yoga, many areas of life are addressed.
I do see 12-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Gamblers Anonymous as highly compatible with yoga. Spiritual advisers and men’s or women’s groups seem very compatible as well. If both client and coach are comfortable with the add-on of a specialty coach or activity, it is probably okay.
Rowan came to yoga to improve his job performance. He was CEO and founder of a contracting group that specialized in commercial building. He was concerned that his company was losing some of its best customers due to complaints about his company’s service. Rowan knew that a lot of the problems could be traced to him. During the third session, Rowan admitted that he had a serious marijuana problem causing a lot of dysfunction in his life especially decreased motivation. He said he was using daily and sometimes as frequently as twice a day. Rowan agreed to slowly stop using marijuana. He made up a schedule and successfully stopped using. He attended Marijuana Anonymous (MA) and worked closely with a sponsor. Rowan continued to do very well in yoga. He did have one brief relapse with marijuana, but he was successful at getting back on track with the help of his MA sponsor and his coach. Today Rowan and his company have doubled their revenues and Rowan continues to be free of his marijuana problem.
Now that you have a better sense of what yoga does and does not involve, think about what you would like to get out of the process. Is it finding a true calling? Is it feeling a connection with something larger than you? Is it meeting someone with whom you can share your life? Is it making a better relationship with a spouse or significant other?
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