Today was an amazing day. I spent it with my three children, two of which are on March break. We did some amazing things, took a long drive to visit a friend, went bowling and played outside in the sun, painted some t-shirts and had a lovely meal.
The friend that I spent the day with is going through some stuff. She is spending a lot of time looking inside her soul and learning about who she really is. Funny thing about this is that I am too, just in a different sort of way. This makes me laugh a bit since I am practicing svadhyay, self reflection which is discussed in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra's. I meditate, practice yoga postures, breath and ask myself who I am, occasionally journal and get to know my body. Others in my life seek counseling, group therapy and talk talk talk it out. Each of these ways is probably equally effective, the end result is probably the same. We break old patterns, discover new things and even learn about old things. I do wonder which one is more satisfying and which will "stick".
I know an individual who saw the same therapist for about 6 years. After the 6 years this person just stopped going. Not because they were "well", not because they had "fixed" the problem but just because they didn't want to do it any more. In those 6 years I never noticed any changes in this person and I am not sure that they did either. They enjoyed the books that were recommended, they enjoyed having someone else to talk with and even the weekly outing wasn't so bad. In my mind if you are paying that much money for therapy would you not want to have tasks to do, and would your friends and family not begin to notice changes about you, should it not be more than just conversation or books to read? I guess that is where I find yoga more beneficial. You have a task to do, if you follow the yoga sutra's you can get lots and lots of self reflection and the tools to do it. People absolutely notice changes in you and because of all the tools and self reflection you have no choice but to notice them too. If you need someone to talk to, you have teachers and other practitioners. Yoga is for life, it does not pretend to "fix" things or make you "well", but it can help you get there.
I'm not saying that therapy is wrong or that it doesn't have a place, I just wonder... if more people practiced yoga, and I mean really practiced, reading, asana, pranayam and philosophy and many other facets that yoga has to offer - would therapy be necessary? If yoga scientifically works to help cure disease (dis ease), calm the mind and the body, provide exercise and breath control, help elevate your mood and keep you relaxed and rested then would we need medications, psychiatrists and all these other things to help us? I'm just asking the question.