Week 5 of Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) with Yoga Tree SF - Okay, now it’s been officially a month of YTT. I believe I was a little thrown off with our previous short February month - I thought four weeks will already make a month! Turns out there are 5 weeks in March - whoops! :)

This week, we went over the interconnections between Yoga & Psychology on Friday evening with Marissa Nasca as well as Yoga Assisting for both Saturday and Sunday with Leila Swanson. So much to unpack here, already!

“Therapy is first about discovering. It’s about who you are and about what your deepest emotional attitudes are. It’s not just about who you think you are. It’s not opinion. It’s not something you can know with the intellect. It’s about who you are in the very heart of yourself. That’s the flavor of psychotherapy, discovering yourself, discovering your real attitudes toward the most important pieces of your life.”

—Ron Kurtz, Hakomi Founder.

Yoga & Psychology - Psychology is essentially a branch of philosophy, it is the science of behavior and mind. Psychology studies both the conscious and unconscious, feelings and thoughts. We discussed the interconnections of yoga and psychology. Interestingly enough, the more as we work through YTT; I realize the less than I know. Yoga is a layered practice and once I think I know something; I don’t. It is quite a humbling practice and brings you back down to earth. I believe that I will forever be this perpetual state of wonder and confusion with Yoga. It’s through that self study, that awareness, that confusion where you seek answers and grow more because of it. It’s truly a beautiful thing to witness this, where our minds and bodies go. We all have the ability to manage the mind in a better way.

We discussed about the tenets of yoga and mindfulness, dharma, projections (transference, counter transference), boundaries, trauma, nervous systems and different therapies such as: Somatic and Hakomi therapy, which is a form of body-centered therapy that looks at the connection of mind and body and uses both psychotherapy and physical therapies for holistic healing. In addition to talk therapy, these practitioners use mind-body exercises and other physical techniques to help release the pent-up tension that is negatively affecting your physical and emotional wellbeing. With a growing body of research supporting yoga's mental health benefits, yoga has become a tool for those outside the therapy office to cope with stress and anxieties, and even heal emotional wounds. Thus, we discussed ways on how to be responsible for our class’s physical, mental and spiritual safety. WHOA.

Yoga & Psychology Homework:

  • Read “Altered Traits” - science components of yoga and mindfulness - states that you enter in through meditation

  • Read “The Body Keeps Score”

Yoga Assisting - Why assist? We educate the body in a tactile way, to help a student learn with what you are guiding with, making this a sustainable and lasting practice for years to come. As a Yoga teacher, you want to bring an assist to life that has not been seen, to take care of students (silent support), offer modifications to addressing injured students and approaching them in a way that does not come across as aggressive is key.

When not to assist: Looking back to what we had discussed from last Friday, we want to always ask for permission from our students and be mindful of projections as well as boundaries. When assisting as a Yoga Teacher, you want to be mindful to a body’s response in case a student has experienced trauma and notice those early signs.

We learned about ways to get a level of the room, assisting principles, how to use verbal assists, press points, manual adjustments, props and learned about the teacher/student relationship. We dived deeper on Sunday in groups to learn how to assist with Warrior 1, Triangle Pose, and Warrior 2.

Assisting homework:

  • The Key Poses of Yoga by Ray Long, MD, FRCSC 54-84, 50-53, 152-53, 134-35

PLUS Alignment homework for Week 6:
- Teach both sun salutations while adding different combinations to friends

Can’t wait to share more of what happens next week.
Until next week, my friends!


  • United States Association for Body Psychotherapy

  • Levine PA and Crane-Godreau MA. Somatic experiencing: using interoception and proprioception as core elements of trauma therapy. Frontiers in Psychology. 4 Feb 2015.

  • Cohen S. Coming to our senses: The application of Somatic Psychology to Group Psychotherapy. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy. July 2011;61(3):397-413.