Residential therapy in India and the UK

I am in a country I chose to come to, at a time convenient for me and for reasons I have shared. I am in India to learn. I thought I was coming to be more capable in utilising yoga for psychotherapy. I’m beginning to learn I am here to find out if yoga helps me directly!

The plan was to be apprentice to a particular yoga teacher for the duration of seven weeks, living in the teacher’s house and yoga school and applying every day except Sundays to this agenda.
As it transpired, I was one of two students , the other also trained as a yoga teacher. I was the only female and I am European.

My intention was to be assimilated into as much of ordinary life as possible. Everything I write is subjective and reflective of my own internal psychological processes.

The Daily Routine

We were encouraged to rise by 6am and be in silence until after 8.30am. To do ablution and drink a little water. Then to make an effort to clear, clean and tidy the spaces. A walk outside in fresh air. Return and be in the yoga hall and undertake a sequence of joint mobilisation movements and be fully prepared for the arrival of the teacher at 7am.

With consideration for my own body and limitations, the teacher facilitated gradual changes in strength and flexibility for my hip, knee and ankle. This brought about some physical relief and an optimism that more ease could be attained. The teaching programme was arranged to have three – one hour sessions, this first being entirely at the physical level. That said, the breathing and meditation practices are also for inspiring the transpersonal connectivity. The afternoon and evening hours were about theory and appropriate asana and session construction for clients with anxiety, stress, depression.

Eating at prescribed timings, a suggested total two of meals a day, Indian vegan food unspiced and unseasoned, cooked for me was acceptable in wanting to feel the potential benefits. Although I have not the technique, the effective manner of eating is with the fingers. I understand there is practicality and symbolism for each of the fingers and why this is preferable to cutlery. For comfort, the tradition is to eat floor based. Obviously caffeine and alcohol free.

Bedtime was suggested as lights out 10pm. Time between yoga classes was suggested for writing up and further study and we could at any point go out and into town.

I soaked and washed my clothes in a bucket and used the water for cleaning the bathroom . I learned that the hose adjacent to all toilets is for cleaning the body and therefore in a warm climate toilet tissue is unnecessary.

I have become accustomed to the very limited supply of heated water and whilst I am reluctant at first, I get on with hair washing and showering in any water at the time. I bought Ayurvedic products locally.

Comparisons to Residential Therapy in the UK

I have a retreat in North Wales, Anglesey. This is for clients to come and be in therapy sessions and workshops. Also to visit the beach for mindfulness activity, yoga or recreation. Clients can choose to be resident and stay overnight. I do not eat or sleep in the retreat property with clients present. This was and is a conscious personal decision for professional reasons, in the service of the client.

I have as a therapy client and also as a student and professional therapist stayed in residential (experiences) and yoga ashrams and ‘lived’ alongside peers, therapists, tutors. The arrangements for obvious and explicit separationĀ of communal times fromĀ time spent alone are factors which may provide orientation and boundary for everyone’s comfort and psychological and physical safety.

Residential Yoga in India

Initially and as planned, I lived and studied within the house and yoga school of the teacher. It is a different way of being when only three present (essentially living together) and the tensions that I noticed within myself were minor at the beginning. I determined the ‘niggling’ thoughts to be about my adaptation.

However, there are cultural and societal, personal and professional ways of thinking and behaving that need consideration. Within my own, Western European , female Sex and gender living as a woman and the complex dynamics of authority, power and charisma in teacher / student client roles I personally would not repeat or recommend anyone to study this way because of the intensity.

Distractions and attractions, human needs and desires, working at levels of non verbal and subconscious realms whilst being in an environment as adults and sharing prolonged periods of time and conversation outside of the ‘teaching’ environment can and did create stressors unnecessary and unhelpful to my process of learning about yoga.

So the adventure unfolds.

Share This