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Using yoga as a tool to sustain practice in turbulent places

Jo Mensinga

Eastern embodied practices, of which yoga I am most familiar, have long claimed that the body is the 'main channel for influencing the mind'. Like the mindfulness practices that have become popular as psychological interventions in the last decade, yoga encourages the individual to break habitual embodied feedback loops through a process of introspection on the human body. Although postural yoga has not been taken up to the same extent nor is it as well researched as mindfulness in the human services sector, in a study exploring psychotherapists' experience of engaging in a regular yoga practice, Valente and Marotta (2005) note that Yoga has potential in increasing participants' awareness of their bodies, thoughts, emotions and patterns of cognition, as well as calming their central nervous system, reducing anxiety, mental stress and fatigue. Given the importance of reflection in social work practice and the current understandings emerging from the neuroscientific literature, this workshop will explore the importance of the visceral experience of the social work experience and how including an embodied practice like yoga as a 'tool' could better prepare social work students and workers to take care of themselves and facilitate improved outcomes for their clients.

24-28 August 2011 Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre
Darling Harbour, Australia.
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Jo Mensinga
Jo Mensinga
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Jo Mensinga

During her 15 years in direct practice, Jo specialised in relationship counselling but was also actively involved in women’s issues, child abuse and domestic violence. She has researched in the area of social work professional practice including child protection decision-making, mentoring, supervision practices, and practitioner learning and development. Jo has also explored social work career choice and decision-making processes. From this collection of work Jo has developed an interest in body-reflexivity. Jo is a qualified yoga teacher with a diploma from the International Yoga Teachers Association. She has undertaken study tours to the United States and Italy examining trauma and its impact on professional reflection and the use of yoga as an intervention.
Jo has published in qualitative inquiry, social work education, and practice and learning journals. She is the author of the book Quilting Professional Stories: A Gendered Experience of Choosing Social Work as a Career which arose from her Masters studies. She is on the editorial board of the international Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning and provides professional supervision and mentoring to human service workers in both government and non-government settings.

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