In my view, Yoga teaching that isn’t informed by at least an engagement with, and some understanding of, modern psychological research and thinking is dangerous. Yoga teachers need at least to have a keen interest in psychology, trauma research and advances in psychodynamic therapies in order to practice yoga in an intelligent and holistic way.
There’s so much interesting literature out there on the crossover between psychology and body use. I was talking to a friend of mine recently who is a psychotherapist and bodyworker, who attended a major conference in London at the weekend, Attachment and Trauma: The Resilience of Mind and Body (see here). This was attended by many of the best known figures internationally in the field, such as Judith Herman, Antonio Damasio and Basel Van Der Kolk. Apparently, they are saying that any therapeutic system that doesn’t consider the mind and body as an fully integrated system and include an integrated physical component is not fit for purpose – for example CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), and a vast majority of the well known established psychodynamic systems out there. No therapy can be effective without an understanding of the relationship between mind and body, and without a well thought through psycho-physical component.
Those engaged in the arts, music, dance, martial arts, singing, voicework, yoga, and a host of other psycho-physical practices, have know this for a long time I think!
Yoga is a fascinating area were mind and body can come together. Yoga informed by an understanding of modern psychology, and the latest research on our emotional anatomy, has huge potential.
Check out The Handbook of Body Psychotherapy and Somatic Psychology from 2014 (link to book on Amazon) for example, or the brilliant In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness by Dr Peter A. Levine (see here for book on Amazon), and lots of other books you’ll find on my website: see here