Guest Blog: Therapy for a Therapist, Mysore style by Ryan McGuire
When I began my journey of earning a Master’s degree in Transpersonal Psychology, I was repeatedly advised by my teachers and mentors that self-care is a crucial component for being a “healthy” therapist. Because let’s face it, being a therapist demands that I show up and be authentically present for each and every one of the people that walk through my door. I must hold a safe, sacred, and compassionate space where people aren’t afraid to open up and explore the multiple layers of their being in front of a, well, stranger. At times, it can be draining; in fact, the therapy field is somewhat known for its “burnout” potential. But my love for the work that I do, and to support my own growth and expansion into becoming the best that I can be, I made a commitment to “get my shit together” so that I could truly help others. That commitment came in the form of Ashtanga yoga, taught Mysore style by my incredible teacher, Taylor Hunt.
Spoiler Alert! Ashtanga yoga is life changing. If you were to tell younger Ryan that he needed to set an alarm for 4:20 am in order to make it to the studio by 5 for nearly a 1.5 hour of intense yoga practice with a room full of other dedicated spirits, he would have laughed hysterically. But 30s Ryan goes to bed between 9:30 and 10 pm (I noticed yesterday that the sun was actually still up) in order to get enough rest so I can get out of bed and get to the studio. And 30s Ryan better think twice before eating that M&M Blizzard at 9 pm because he knows he’ll pay for it on the mat in the morning. Not to mention that I talk about yoga ALL THE TIME, and find myself inviting everyone to practice with our community. It’s all encompassing, and I can’t stop.
But what it comes down to for me is this,,,Ashtanga yoga is my therapy. When I began to really dedicate my time to the practice, I began to transform. I’m not just talking about a physical transformation, but a transformation of body, of mind, and of spirit. One morning I had a moment of insight. As a therapist, I work from a client-centered perspective. This means that I have faith in my client’s ability to heal themselves, and my job is to simply meet them where they are in their journey and walk their path with them, not for them. They have to be willing to do the work; I’ll help them to overcome their barriers. Similarly, in the Mysore room, our individual practice is self-led. Therefore, it is completely up to me to show up and do my own practice. Taylor will be there to offer assistance, adjustments, and encouragement when needed, but for the most part I am on my own. It’s up to me to overcome my challenges on the mat, which gives me the confidence and competence to conquer the many challenges that I will inevitably face during my day. I walk out of the studio every morning with my head held high and a grin across my face, without fail.
My practice has taught me to be patient with myself, to accept myself for who I am, and to love myself. It has allowed me to experience my relationship with myself in a much more intimate way, which has also allowed me to experience others on a deeper lever. It is now hard for me to imagine a life without Ashtanga yoga. I am forever grateful to my dedicated teacher and the Ashtanga community for the unlimited amount of support and compassion that they have given to me. I am honored to share that sacred space every morning with my fellow Ashtangis, to laugh, to cry, to fall, to overcome obstacles, and to offer fist bumps after 5 grueling backbends. I’m passionate about this practice because I believe in it. I believe in its potential to heal and transform, and to be a catalyst for self-awareness. That is the essence of therapy, in my opinion, and I will always draw on the knowledge that I get from Ashtanga to guide me as a therapist, as a husband, as a friend, as a brother, as a son, and as a divine spirit. With that, I bid you goodnight. It’s 9:34 pm, after all, and I need to “bring my ass to class” bright and early.
Namaste ~ Ryan McGuire, June 2014.