Join us at Liberation Institute as we move through a therapeutic yoga series. Groups run from 7:00-8:30pm at 1227a Folsom st. San Francisco. Drop ins welcome.


July 8th:
Yoga for Depression
We will begin gently, bearing witness to our downs and build towards invigorating our ups. Learn a sequence that prepares you for soul-lifting backbends and enlivening breath work.
July 15th:
Yoga for Anxiety
We will look at ways anxiety arises and offer tools to slow down and ground. We will focus on twists, forward bends and and a breath-guided flow sequence to take the edge off.
July 22nd:
Yoga for Vitality
The stresses of daily life can drain our vital energies. We will explore what makes us vital, and how that is alive in our bodies. We will build a practice to sustain what moves and inspires us.

Our Yoga Groups are not the same as a general yoga class. We offer a small group therapeutic setting where individual attention can be given to design a practice that best fits your own unique needs. They are donation based, with no one turned away for lack of funds. There is a practice for everyone regardless of weight, energy level or yoga experience. We can work with you to find a practice that can benefit you.


Yoga Groups for Everyone

Our Yoga Groups are not the same as a general yoga class. We offer a small group therapeutic setting where individual attention can be given to design a practice that best fits your own unique needs. They are donation based, with no one turned away for lack of funds. There is a practice for everyone regardless of weight, energy level or yoga experience. We can work with you to find a practice that can benefit you.

We will explore therapeutic well being through yoga, integrating our whole beings into practice; body, mind, spirit, and emotions. We will begin with a check in where you are welcome to share how you are feeling in the moment and explore intentions for your own practice. We will then weave everyone’s intentions into an asana (postures) practice using breath, body awareness and meditative movement. We will end with restorative yoga and a short meditation.
We specialize in yoga for anxiety, depression and stress reduction. We are trained yoga instructors, yoga therapists, psychotherapist interns and long time practitioners.

Join us in March for the 2nd series of Yoga Groups at The Liberation Institute:

Tuesdays March 4th-25th
Liberation Institute Urban Retreat Center
1227a Folsom St, San Francisco, CA

Daylong Retreat
March 23rd
Liberation Institute Urban Retreat Center

1227a Folsom St, San Francisco, CA
Lunch included
Both events are by donation no one turned away for lack of funds.
Drop ins welcome, but if you plan to attend let us know if you can.

Cultivate a Yoga Practice for your own unique experience:

Knowledge of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science and philosophy of health, helps us design a yoga practice  that really fits our needs. Awareness of the doshas (or constitutions) Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, can help us gauge the effects of our yoga practice on both our physical body as well as our state of mind. A practice may be suitable for one constitution, but may cause further imbalance for another. It does not make sense to do one practice for everyone. In these small yoga groups, we will get a sense of individual doshas and offer tools and modifications for individual needs.

More on Doshas Here:

Can Psychotherapy Bridge Worlds Between East and West, Spirt and Matter?

Transpersonal Psychotherapy has the potential to bridge the worlds between East and West, Indigenous and Western world views. There is a vast and quickly spreading movement of Westerners seeking wisdom and guidance from other traditions. There is valuable potential for Transpersonal Psychotherapy to integrate what is missing from Western society; spiritual meaning and connection to others and our world as a whole. When seeking meaning, Westerners can come across pitfalls from exploring non-western traditions. By exploring relationship, mindfulness of body, breath and emotions, and core beliefs based on personal history,Transpersonal Psychotherapy can integrate spiritual experience into daily life and address the pitfalls that create more suffering.


There is a cultural dissonance between collectivist societies and Western individualism. Indigenous and many Eastern traditions are collectivist, and when Westerners go to the teachers of these traditions, their radical individualist and reductionist values are overlooked. This can cause spiritual bypass, as the Western seeker cannot integrate their psychological material into the world views of collectivist cultures. This is why many meditators and people who have peak shamanic experience, find it difficult to re-enter daily life in the Western world.

The result is to bypass; focus on the spiritual experience and trying to reattain it, rather than integrate aspects of ourselves that react to unintegrated parts of ourselves. These can be lazy, defiant or otherwise resistant parts, selfish, full of desire or otherwise clingy parts. The dichotomy set up between spiritual experience and a lack of cultural attunement to the spiritual in the west, can lead to painful disappointment at best, and destructive reaction at worst. Both are a recipe for spiritual bypass, as chasing after peak experience can be a quick fix in this.

The concepts of Soul Retrieval and obtaining personal power found in Shamanic practices could be utilized by the Transpersonal Psychotherapist to introduce Shamanic work to the Western client. Continue reading “Can Psychotherapy Bridge Worlds Between East and West, Spirt and Matter?”

Yoga and Psychotherapy


There is a new movement integrating Yoga movement and philosophy with Western Psychotherapy. There is a strong community of yoga practitioners, yoga instructors and psychotherapists who are offering unique expertise in this innovative integration. It seems like a harmonious marriage of yoga’s somatic and mindfulness practices with Western Psychotherapy’s wholeness through relational and psychological exploration.  But how do we integrate these two fields? There are some fabulous pioneers: Gary KraftsowDavid Emerson and Bessel Van der Kolk to name a few, but a lot of us are still skillfully experimenting.

The practical benefits of a few minutes of yogic movement and breath work can calm heart rate and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for calming the fight or flight stress response. This can be beneficial for anyone, but for those experiencing debilitating reliving of trauma, depression/anxiety or addiction, these practices can be crucial in managing destructive cycles. It is important, however, for those who are using these profound yogic tools to have an ongoing relationship with a therapist who can guide and support the emotional and physical responses to yoga. Yoga can bring up powerful emotions and memories, so it is crucial for those working with yoga to have the support of a trained therapist to manage what arises from practice.

For more please visit my Yoga and Healing Trauma post.

The field of Yoga Therapy has long been established, but this tends to look more like physical therapy with therapeutic yoga poses geared towards repairing and preventing injury. Yoga Psychotherapy on the other hand, offers the physical and mental benefits of yoga practice with the psychological inquiry and the emotional support of Psychotherapy.

Yogic practices give practical techniques for the purification of the body and mind. According to Patanjali (The expounder of The Yoga Sutras, the classical synthesis of ancient yoga practices which influence modern yoga) yogic methods address the root cause of disease by purifying the body and mind. This enables purity of action and consciousness. As a result there is integration and wholeness of mind, body and spirit. This is seen as the greatest remedy for any ailment.

What does Yoga Psychotherapy look like?

Yoga Psychotherapy sessions often start with centring, intention setting and breath work — energizing breath work for clients experiencing depression or low energy and balancing breaths for those with anxiety or stress. Clients then practice yoga poses geared to their specific needs. People with severe posttraumatic stress disorder, for example, are prone to losing their sense of being in their bodies when they experience a reliving of their trauma. So holding simple grounding positions, like a warrior or chair pose, before transitioning into talk therapy can be very effective to keep body awareness. Emotional memories are stored in our bodies and it is through our bodies that we release stuck emotions and trauma. A group yoga class, is not structured to enable appropriate processing of this.

Continue reading “Yoga and Psychotherapy”

Healing Relationships Through Family Constellations Therapy

mark-newHow is Your Love Life Related to Your Mother?
By Mark Wolynn

When you think of your mother, does your heart open with compassion or tighten with resentment? Do you allow yourself to feel her tenderness and care? The way you take in her love can be similar to how you experience love from a partner.

What’s unresolved with your parents doesn’t automatically disappear. It serves as a template that forges your later relationships. Maybe you‘ve experienced this with a partner. If you felt you didn’t get enough from your mother, perhaps you also feel that you don’t get “enough” from your partner. It’s a harsh reality, but it’s true more often than not.

The same holds true with your father. Your unresolved relationship with your father will also show up in your love life.

A woman, for example, who rejects her father, can repeat the fate of her mother by attracting a partner who behaves similarly to the father she rejects. In this way, she brings what she dislikes about her father back into her life. Not only that, but by reliving her mother’s experience, she joins her mother in her discontent.

A man who rejects his father might not have the resources to commit to his partner. Let’s say he was extremely close with his mother and not so close with his father—a very common dynamic for many men.  A man in this situation is likely to experience resistance when he bonds with his partner. He might find himself shutting down emotionally or physically, fearing that his partner, like his mother, will want or need too much from him. The remedy is a closer bond with his father.

Conversely, a woman who’s closer to her father than her mother is likely to feel unsatisfied with the partners she selects. The root of the problem is not them. It is the distance she feels toward her mother. A woman’s relationship with her mother can be an indicator of a how fulfilling her relationship will be with her partner.

Rejecting our parents only brings us suffering. The emotions, traits and behaviors we reject in our parents often live on in us. It’s our unconscious way of loving them, a way to bring them back into our lives. Even our bodies will feel some degree of unrest until our parents are experienced inside us in a loving way.

Continue reading “Healing Relationships Through Family Constellations Therapy”

Yoga and Psychology Dialogue Series Produced by Lotus Yoga

psyche1Yoga and Psyche Dialogue Series is a project supported by Lotus Yoga to bring you
cutting edge research on the interface of yoga, psychotherapy and somatic psychology.

Released on January 7th and free to register:

Join us as we embark on a journey with these exceptional speakers
exploring a comprehensive integration of Western psychology and
ancient yoga practice:

Rick Hanson

Richard Miller

John Friend

Katchie Ananda

Reggie Ray

David Emerson

Stephen Cope

and many more…

Over these weeks together you will witness our living research,
conceived by Mariana Caplan and midwifed by a team of Masters
and Doctoral researchers, who are working together to create a book,
academic article, scientific research, and a workbook on this subject.

Mariana has spent over two decades simultaneously immersed in
the fields of yoga and psychology, as well as authoring seven books
on various topics related to spiritual discernment and the integration
of psychology and spirituality, including the award-winning Eyes
Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path and the
seminal Halfway Up the Mountain: the Error of Premature Claims to
Enlightenment. Mariana continues to inform her psychological inquiry
through ongoing work as a psychotherapist, working in person with
clients, and also long-distance through skype and telephone.

We invite you to listen and hope this series can inform your own journey
to wholeness and integration.

Stay informed and interactive on our website: where
you will find more about this ongoing project of research and training, as
well as ways to get involved and stay connected.

Family Constellations

baby_momFamily Constellations get to the source of our challenges by demonstrating how we are in  our family system. They make it clear that we belong to that system and will remain a part of it whether we resist it or not. What remains unresolved in the system contributes to a sense of unease in our lives and for generations to come.

Much like psychodrama, a family constellation will be played out by a group representing a client’s family. The presenting issue of the client will be explored briefly and they will pick representatives of family members from a group that knows little about their family. The representatives will follow their intuitions and somatic responses to the dynamics in the room. What tends to happen is that an accurate depiction of important family dynamics will come about and be witnessed by the client. It is very powerful to hear from the representatives who know little to nothing about the family. What is known in developmental biology as a morphogenetic field is experienced; a kind of history that is remembered through the resonant memory of the group organism.

I have been fortunate to work with Mark Wolynn, a master in Family Constellations, trained by Bert Hellinger and a pioneer in his own system of Core Language Training. I participated in his Free To Love: Creating Great Relationships 2 day workshop at CIIS as well as his 4 day Intake as Intervention Training.

Developed by Bert Hellinger as he observed Zulu communities and how they did not exclude anyone from the family system, we have a lot to learn in the west about re-integrating members back into our tribes.

What is excluded in our family systems can haunt us, like our unconscious material, trying to make itself conscious through our blocks and destructive attachments in our lives. We can feel victims to these patterns until a family history lesson is learned and rejected parts of the family are accepted.

Constellations can offer deep experiential insight into breaking unconscious family patterns. Traumatic events can imprint family members and be passed down for generations. These traumas can be inherited and re-experienced by a later generation without having the direct personal experience of the trauma. A child can pick up on what is deficient in the parent and compensate to save or heal them without the parent overtly asking them to. Continue reading “Family Constellations”