When the Client is a Couple: Yoga Therapy for Couples

By Michael Lee, Founder of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy

When I first started giving Phoenix Rising sessions in 1987, I never thought that it might be anything other than a one on one approach to yoga therapy.  Then, sometime in the early nineties, two people who came to my yoga classes decided to take individual yoga therapy sessions with me.  They came every week over several months for their individual sessions.  One day after her session Janet mused “I wonder how it would be for Brett and me to do sessions together.  We’ve been playing around with partner yoga at home and I think it would be great if we could do it using the whole Phoenix Rising process”.  Always open to client suggestions I replied “Why not?  Let’s give it a try!”

The next week they came for their first “couples’ session”.  All of us very quickly saw the benefits of this variation in the delivery of the work.   As a couple, their relationship was strengthened as they explored different edges together- physically and emotionally.  They became very much more aware and accepting of their differences and how powerful they were as a team.   Issues that both had never voiced were surfaced and resolved with their bodies providing the awareness and the path.

Over the next few years, my work with couples grew and began to include a variety of couples including relatives sharing a house together and even two business partners.  I was able to develop an approach that was safe, inviting, relaxed, and at the same time allowed for deep work to be done.   It was different in many respects to the traditional one on one session.   We usually worked with simple partner exercises that involved physical presence and connection through support and touch as well as some partner yoga.  I modified the dialog process to include dialog between the partners as well as with me as the yoga therapist.

Since then, I have refined the process further and began to teach workshops for Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Graduate Practitioners on how to incorporate couples work into their yoga therapy practice.  Several practitioners who did this found they were able to enhance their practice and client base by offering these kinds of sessions.

Later, I became interested in some new approaches to couple therapy in the world of psychotherapy and became intrigued by the work of Dr. Sue Johnson and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy.  I saw how Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy was very compatible with this approach and how a Phoenix Rising couples’ session could support a couple with the kinds of awareness needed to enhance their emotionally focused “conversations”.    At the same time, there were several Phoenix Rising practitioners asking me to teach Couples training.  So, I decided to offer the training.  At this time, the training and the ‘sessions’ given are designed for online delivery in order to make the work more accessible. I’ve been offering this training annually since 2005, and there are many PRYT Yoga Therapists trained in offering sessions to couples.