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September, a month many begrudgingly associate with saying goodbye to summertime, can also give you reason to celebrate. In 2008, September was declared National Yoga Month, giving us all a reason to continue the festivities and keep those back-to-school blues at bay. National Yoga Month is led by the Yoga Health Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to spreading awareness of the wellness benefits yoga has to offer.

Derived from the sanskrit word “yuj” meaning “to yoke” or “to unite,” the meaning of the word yoga is translated to “union.” Yoga practitioners understand this in many ways, including: union of breath to movement, of body to mind, of individual to community, and of personal self to universal self. Whichever way you prefer to understand it, this emphasis on connection is something that the dance/movement therapy community and the yoga community both have in common.

photo by Aaron Neifer
photo by Aaron Neifer

Many people consider the physical and meditative practices of yoga to be therapeutic. The powerful connection between the use of breath, the movement of the body, and the cessation of the chatter in the mind can be a valuable avenue to access and release emotion. Dance/movement therapy, while highlighting many similar elements of breath and body, furthers this experience by deepening awareness and processing the emotions that begin to surface. As dance/movement therapists work with individuals, they use movement interventions and nonverbal and verbal processing to facilitate the integration of the physical and psychological realms of their clients.

Whether you’ve never met a downward facing dog or you know the Yoga Sutras by heart, September is an opportunity to unite yourself with a little piece of this ancient practice.

photo by Elvert Barnes
photo by Elvert Barnes

10 Ways Dance/Movement Therapists (and anyone else with a body!!) can Celebrate National Yoga Month

  1. Practice self-care, take a yoga class!
  2. Already an avid yogi? Bring a friend to class.
  3. Learn a new pose. Check out Yoga Journal online for a step-by-step guide to poses.
  4. Meditate. Challenge yourself to set aside a few moments to just be.
  5. Consider ways to collaborate with yoga teachers in your community.
  6. Research local yoga teacher training programs to see how deepening your practice might further inform your work.
  7. Research the health benefits of a yoga practice. See the Yoga Health Foundation for a place to start.
  8. Find out more about organizations promoting movement and wellness in schools. Check out Sonima Foundation for an example of this work.
  9. Learn more about the history of the yoga practice. Try starting here
  10. Curious about the therapeutic benefits of yoga? Find out more about the similarities and differences between Dance/movement therapy and Yoga therapy at American Dance Therapy Association and International Association of Yoga Therapists’ websites.

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