Bo Forbes is a clinical psychologist, yoga teacher, and integrative yoga therapist. She is the founder of Integrative Yoga Therapeutics, a system that specializes in the therapeutic application of yoga for anxiety, insomnia, depression, immune disorders, chronic pain, physical injuries, and athletic performance. Bo conducts teacher trainings and workshops internationally in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Europe, Asia, and more. She is the author of Yoga for Emotional Balance: Simple Practices to Relieve Anxiety and Depression, which we have reviewed in this edition.
I spoke to Bo about her work and her thoughts about healing and what she refers to as embodiment, a process of returning to our natural state. She has offered her talk from the Mind and Life Institute in this edition. A link can be found below.
Barbara: What drew you to mindfulness and psychotherapy and the intersection of the two?
Bo: I've been a clinical psychologist for 25 years. I've always been interested in emotional transformation since I was a kid.
My real focus clinically is embodiment. To me the body seemed to be missing from psychotherapy. So early in my career as a psychologist I began integrating the body into psychotherapy.
I believe mindfulness starts with the body. In the Satipatthana Sutta it is listed as one of the four elements of mindfulness. It is one of the foundational suttas of mindfulness meditation.
I integrate the body into psychotherapy through restorative yoga, breath work and then eventually transformation happens physiologically and then trickles up into our mental awareness. It is much harder to get mental awareness to trickle into the body.
I began to see these disparate modes. And these are also mapped out by neuro- science. We have the narrative mode and the experiential mode that are mapped differently in the brain. The experiential mode is shown to be more effective in alleviating anxiety and depression. I've moved towards a very conscious and circumscribed use of narrative and am more looking at embodied experience in the process of emotional transformation.
Barbara: So you use movement in your sessions, or direct clients to attend to their body sensations?
Bo: I'm a yoga therapist, so we use all kinds of embodied movement and all kinds of embodied meditations through restorative yoga.
Barbara: You said you were interested in emotional transformation since you were a kid, people making changes in their lives. Do you see what you do as relieving suffering in a larger way?
Bo: Well it's not just about making change. Everyone starts out as this embodied person with tremendous potential and things get in the way of that, life happens, and I'm interested in how we return to that state.
Relieving suffering is a great phrase and applies to traditionally why therapists are interested in doing what they do.
I tend to not conceptualize it that way. I tend to think about it as a recovery, uncovering. Removing things that get in the way of us being who we really are.
Barbara: Is this something you want to see more of in the field of therapy?
Bo: The question people are wrestling with right now is, "do I want to refer people out for adjunct work" or "do I want to train in sensori-motor therapy, or do I just work with a yoga therapist who I also refer my people to"?
It's not like I want to see more of a certain thing done by other people.
I think the people who are suffering will find people who use modalities that they resonate with.
I think we've become very focused on evidence-based modalities for things. The bottom line is that I'm passionate about embodiment in all its forms. Whether it's integrated with other things or done right in the process of psychotherapy, which was my preference to do.
I'm really interested in the intersection of yoga, mindfulness, neuro-science and movement therapies.
Barbara: Do you have a meditation practice?
Bo: I have a sitting practice, do movement and do restorative rest. Those 3 things are my main stay.
The embodied and contemplative practices are where my passion is and where I think transformation really is.
Barbara: Thank you very much for your time Bo.
Bo: It was my pleasure.
Click here to listen to a talk Bo Forbes gave at the Mind and Life Institute!
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