Being an athlete is stressful. Be it the rigorous training, tough schedules, finicky diets, the pressure to keep your performance up or even pressures from your friends, family, or teammates. Mental and physical exhaustion is not uncommon, hampering performance and bringing the athlete’s morale to a low. However, this stress and exhaustion is not something that can’t be avoided. Mumbai based social worker Gayatree Joshi has spent hours with sports teams, helping them achieve their best performances by engaging them with Body Movement Therapy.

Body Movement Therapy (BMT) is based on the fact that the mind and body function together, and therefore any sort of emotional stress is reflected in physical performance. Gayatree says, “Body movement therapy is an extremely powerful tool to help us understand, explore, heal and empower the self by undergoing experiential therapy in the sessions. It plays a major role in breaking through this closed shell and helping players not only work with their physical and fitness elements but also with body movements to tap into the unconscious, psyche and emotional aspects, thus eradicating root causes of the problems they go through in life.”

Ms. Gayatree has spent nearly 18 years working with children, youth, and adults. She has worked with several sports-persons and teams, including the Maharashtra Police hockey team), the Don Bosco Snehalaya basketball team, and several other teams from the basketball fraternity like the Services, Bhavnagar and Southern Railway teams amongst others. She is currently working with the ONGC team in Dehradun.

“We live away from our families. It is very tough for us to maintain balance at a personal and professional level. The session has brought powerful changes in my perception. Especially the relaxation and hug therapy and release of stress was just excellent. I think it is very important for all players to undergo this therapy,” Mr. Sambhaji Kadam of the Services basketball team had once written in his feedback form.

Gayatree after a session with young children

Tell us about your work and what BMT means to you.

It has been a life changing experience for me when I studied this therapy and I was amazed how it can change lives of people. It is a holistic approach to unite the body, mind, and soul.  Since birth we have had an immense amount of good and bad life experiences due to which our personalities are built with thoughts, patterns, habits, and a lot of inhibitions which sometimes obstruct our growth in life. We use different defence mechanisms to cope with stress: methods of escapism, substance abuse, or just being aloof or spending some time with friends, to drown out our stresses. But this isn’t going to solve the problem unless we make an effort by focusing ourselves by working towards it. Our bodies are affected by different emotions which get stored within us, leading to different health issues and injuries, body pains etc.

BMT helps players not only work with their physical and fitness elements but also with body movements to tap into the unconscious and emotional aspects eradicating root causes of the problems they go through in life.

How did you first start doing this?

I was inspired to work with sports players after I healed and empowered Hockey Village India, the hockey girls and boys teams in rural Rajasthan, and basketball players of Don Bosco Snehalaya, a home for street children and youth in Vadodara.

I was amazed to see how BMT became a part of their development process, the difference it brought into their lives and how well they could give their full potential in whatever they did as well as how they played their game. It gave a push into the process of building great sports players of our country.

Walk us through a typical BMT session with you.

BMT sessions are purely based on the methodologies of using creative forms of art and movement. The sessions are not lecture based and are completely experiential and practically done by each client on self. The therapy is conducted in an enclosed space without disturbance. A maximum of 10-15 participants are allowed in one session.

The players will undergo different therapeutic techniques like body centering, mindfulness, muscle-body relaxation, body awareness, team bonding, hug therapy, etc. Hugs are said to improve self esteem, calm the nerves, stabilize the heart rate and improve immunity.

A typical session starts with a creative activity in which teams communicate artistically, after which comes focus & mindfulness, wherein we remind ourselves that we are the solely responsible for changing our own actions and habits, and thus removing obstacles. This is followed by energy warm-up which releases tensions from different parts of the body, then followed by a team building exercise which involves interpersonal appreciation, and ended with movement relaxation and hug therapy.

Therapy session conducted at the Savio Cup in Mumbai

Should therapy be made a part of an athlete or team’s training schedule?

Along with physical fitness, it is extremely important for players training for professional games to undergo an extensive mental health training program. The players could receive some amount of counseling or guidance from a coach but may or may not express completely. The performance of the players are affected due to the imbalance of chaos of the self on and off the field. Somehow counseling or even focus may not sometime work in such cases resulting into a back fall of the player in his or her performance and relationships with teammates.

How can interested coaches/athletes/teams get in touch with you?

My organization is called Healing With Art-Forms and is an initiative towards this therapy.

Find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Healing-with-Art-Forms-304466269583355/

Hug therapy https://www.facebook.com/Hug-Therapy-315903408462580/?ref=bookmarks

Email : cowatree@gmail.com

Call us at 8828281442

Shimul Bijoor
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