Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy

Recently I completed Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy (PRYT) Level 1 Training. This training has made such an impact on my life that I wanted to share some highlights.

I’ll begin with a quick explanation of PRYT. Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy is a combination of yoga techniques and psychology to encourage a deeper connection with the self. Therapy sessions are one-on-one, last one to two hours, and include assisted yoga postures, breath work, and non-directive dialogue. The dialogue is led entirely by the client and not influenced at all by the therapist, whose sole task is to continue to provide the client with opportunities to express her feelings at that precise moment.

Michael Lee is the founder of this healing technique, which was established in 1986 while he was a resident at Kripalu. Through his personal experience and knowledge of yoga and psychology, he was able to create a new approach to mind-body healing.

I was drawn to Phoenix Rising because of the combination of yoga and psychology and my personal experiences in yoga classes where shoulder-opening poses would cause me to cry. I couldn’t understand where the tears came from and have wanted to get to the root of the cause. However, I realized that traditional psychotherapy would not uncover the mind-body connection; Phoenix Rising takes into account the whole person and creates an environment where you can explore the emotions that are stored so deeply in your body.

My curiosity and passion then took me to Kripalu where I took the 6-day, Level 1, PRYT Training. The training was amazing, and I feel very lucky to have had two incredibly compassionate teachers. Karen Hasskarl, the teacher leading the training session, is the Co-director of Phoenix Rising. Her kindnesses, passion, joy, and knowledge makes her one of the most inspiring teachers I have ever encountered. After the weeklong training I now feel thoroughly educated on the basics of Phoenix Rising, but I remain curious and thirsty for more knowledge – that is what Level 2 and 3 trainings are for!

Mandy Sergent was assistant teaching with Karen, and we were so lucky to have her with us. Mandy is a yoga instructor, yoga therapist, and holistic health counselor. As all of the work was done in pairs it was beneficial to have her as our 6th group member, and partnering with her helped us to receive an understanding of the work with a practicing yoga therapist.

As an introvert I was pleased that the training group was small. There were only four other people so we were able to share and connect on a deeper level than we would have with a group of 20+. (You can see all the students and teachers in the photo above.) The safety and trust that I felt during the training allowed me to let my authentic self out and not worry what everyone thought of me. I felt free to burst into laughter or tears and was not embarrassed by my behavior. I often find that it is too easy to hold myself back, closely monitor all my words and actions, and try to please all those around me.

This week enabled me to see again that I can be smiling, happy, and free. I know that this is not going to be how I feel at all times, but now that I know it is possible it will be easier to keep this feeling close and not let it get away. The laughter and the overflowing happiness I felt reinforced my passion and desire to share these methods with others. I want the world to feel that same uninhibited joy that comes with releasing a well of emotions.

One morning I woke up to find myself situated in one of the yoga poses we had been practicing in the training! I also remembered moving in and out of the poses while I was sleeping and dreaming that I was having a Phoenix Rising session. Even in my sleep it was a powerful experience; I woke up refreshed, relaxed, and energized for my day.

Although my experience was a form of liberation through laughter, these sessions can be very different for everyone. The sessions can bring about fear, anger, joy, and countless other emotions across the spectrum; however, I highly recommend you try a few sessions if you are working through a difficult time or are searching for more understanding of your body and mind. (Click here to find a practitioner in your area.)