Among the myriad of yoga manuals available, full of yoga poses and anatomic explanations, James Foulkes’ concise yet thorough look at the therapeutic benefits of yoga offers this and so much more.
Foulkes deftly interweaves his western, scientific understanding of anatomy with Eastern wisdom about the mind and body relationship to create an accessible guide to using yoga therapeutically for the whole person.
Our bodies are inseparable to our mental health, yet are often forgotten about in our head-orientated culture. In a society that gravitates towards a splitting of the spiritual and the physical (from book shop shelves to mindsets) this book is a helpful reminder of the holistic nature of our health and well-being and provides plenty of food for thought from both a yogic and a counselling perspective.
'it is essential that we accept where we are and where we have been, in order to move on'
The manual is broken down into ‘principles’, such as ‘breath’, ‘centring’ and ‘effortlessness’, helpings to illustrate parallels between yogic principles and humanistic theories of awareness, acceptance and personal-growth. Themes within the book include adaptation, resilience and acceptance, which act to form a mental bridge between the yoga mat and our wider inner and outer worlds.
In a chapter dedicated to breathing, for example, Foulkes explains:
“Breathing patterns develop over the course of our lives as a result of our experiences, with many characteristics having been acquired from our parents or other people close to us. As we begin to undo unhealthy breathing patterns, it is essential that we accept where we are and where we have been, in order to move on.”
“Healing can only happen in the moment” says Foulkes and this emphasis on what is possible in the here and now is another quality, which sets this yoga manual aside from others. So many books dedicated to fitness and health are concerned with striving towards or back to something other than what we have, whereas Principles and Themes in Yoga Therapy works very much to meet the client where they are at; to cultivate acknowledgement, acceptance and gratitude for what can be done, without emphasis on what cannot.
Foulkes’ ‘thee and thou’ approach to his work with clients contrasts noticeably with the usual expert and student dynamic. His awareness and use of and the transpersonal relationship within the healing process is remarkable and often missing from books dealing with physical health. Foulkes encourages practitioners to be sensitive to the therapeutic alliance and the effect of both client and teacher upon each other’s personal journey.
Principles and Themes in Yoga Therapy is a unique work, which provides both a practical guide and profound insight into the psychological freedom that can be found when we place attention on and trust in our bodies.
Principles and Themes in Yoga Therapy is available in most book stores and available online at Amazon and Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Miriam Christie has recently joined our team at The Counsellors Cafe and we're delighted to have her with us. Miriam is a wellness and lifestyle writer, Co-founder of The Nurture Hub and a qualifying counsellor. You can get in touch with Miriam via Twitter or Facebook.