A slice of PY (Psychotherapeutic Yoga)

Authored By: 
Adriana Speiker

I have been dancing with yoga for over a decade and still don't know who is leading! It brought me out of a depression in college when I struggled to get out of bed. It kept me moving (through breath focus) when I was standing at attention in Army Basic Training. It held me accountable when I cut off my own body's needs to get the mission done. Yoga saved my humanity in war.

Yoga and Psychology go together. It is not a forced relationship but an easy one. Psychology looks at human behavior and healthy functioning within the context of societies. Yoga practices bring the physical body into a present state in preparation for meditation and alignment. The connection is the central nervous system which automatically reacts to the individual's life (traumas, chronic stressors, depressive thoughts, etc.) with heightened arousal (engaging the sympathetic nervous system) or dimish energy levels (engaging the parasympathetic nervous system). Psychology looks at these as presenting behaviors and yoga can tap into these systems in real time. Psychology is the place I dance and yoga is my partner...I owe a lot to my partner.

My story included trauma, depression, pain, and anger recovery while still keeping it together on the "outside". I left my first yoga class (Kundalini) like I was walking on clouds. I chased that high into the next yoga class and ever since. I was a twenty-year-old college student studying psychology with goals of graduating and seeing the world. So I joined the military and saw the world. It was not the "Lonely Planet" world that I saw when I studied abroad in college; it was the heart-wrenching gray world that has you crying for better. Yoga never left my side. I did yoga on bases by myself in my CHU or led classes with others on my off time. I used yogic breath before briefing generals or throughout a mission to keep me focused. Yoga kept pulling me up after every dip with grace and balance. I came back to "home" with anger and resentment for others that didn't have to see what I had seen or do what I did. There was not logic or talking these feelings away. I lived with them in my body every day but ignored the call to dance. I was ready to fight all the time. So, my good ole partner yoga stepped in again. It led me to multiple yoga trainings that focused on grounding and releasing until I could not help but be helped.

I am a mental health counselor and my greatest tool in therapy is me because I have experienced trauma and I have experienced healing through yoga. I found a group of people at Lifeologie Institute of Psychotherapeutic Yoga (LISPY) that have passion and knowledge for using yoga in psychotherapy. I continue to learn and find my own voice within PY (psychotherapeutic yoga) daily.

About the Author: 

Adriana grew up a little north of Texas – about 939 miles north – in the mythically cold state of Minnesota. After an entire childhood of brutal winters, she inexplicably continued to brave the weather in college, attending the University of Minnesota in Duluth and majoring in psychology. She then spent a year studying in England, which thawed her out a bit and kindled an insatiable desire to travel.

Her love of travel and her interest in helping others led her to enlist in the US Army after college. In the military, she functioned as a Psychological Operations soldier, working with diverse populations around the world. She deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan, where she worked with multiple high stress situations, seeking resolutions through collaboration, intelligent dialogue, and responsiveness. She implemented psychological interventions and crisis management techniques throughout her time in the service. Adriana has been honored to work as a leader and a mentor in the military and the Army Reserves, and has a deep desire to continue her work with veterans and other populations affected by trauma, PTSD, substance abuse and adjustment issues.

Personally, she experienced the healing powers of the mind-body connection after her deployments. During her military career, Adriana was able to lead a Sunday morning yoga class on base, where she worked on balance (literally and figuratively). This was a time for recovery, which sparked a commitment to yoga and holistic health. She received her yoga teacher training in 2012 with an emphasis in therapeutics and is continuing her journey through LISPY’s advanced psychotherapeutic yoga training.

Adriana is proud to be a part of the veteran community and is committed to her work with others who have served.

When Adriana decided to leave the service, she knew that she would continue working in psychology. Having failed to learn her lesson in Minnesota, she moved to Chicago, where the winter winds blow and where she received her graduate degree in counseling psychology from Adler University, specializing in forensic studies. After graduating, Adriana moved to Texas to become a counselor … and to escape from the cold at last.

Adriana is lucky to have friends in the area who are helping her discover new adventures in DFW. When she is not LifeWorking, you will find her combing the Trinity Trail on her bike, horseback riding, cooking up new recipes, and enjoying the relaxation of yoga classes. Family is another important aspect of her life. She makes it a point to spoil her many nieces and nephews with laughter and love.

Adriana is excited to join the team at Lifeworks! She loves Fort Worth because it combines her love of the city and the warmth (!!) of the country.

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