In her years as a therapist, Erin Krilivsky has found that working on three key areas leads to recovery—mind, body and community.
“Straight talk therapy doesn’t work, and studies have also substantiated it’s not very effective longer term,” she said.
Bikram yoga—a series of poses performed in a 105-degree room—is an ideal way to develop a strong body and a community, completing the three-pronged approach, she said.
“What I’ve found over the years is that when you can do EMDR (therapy) and you do hot yoga, you feel like you’re not alone,” she said. “When all three things combine—mind, body and community—it’s the perfect trifecta.”
Krilivsky is opening what she describes as a “one stop shop” for mind, body and community therapy under one roof, open to both the public and her therapy clients.
Bikram Yoga Williston-Center for Strong Mind, Strong Body will let locals work on their bodies through yoga classes, meditation, acupressure, energy work and massage and their minds with advanced psychotherapy, including EMDR for individuals, couples and families. EMDR, which stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, is a form of psychotherapy for trauma, anxiety, depression and more.
A grand opening is set for March 19 at 4 p.m. at the new studio, located at 135 Allen Brook Lane.
After moving to Vermont in 2007, Krilivsky worked at the Howard Center as a residential clinician, specializing in severe and persistent mental illness. She opened her own practice in South Burlington in 2011.
In between, she discovered Bikram yoga.
“I discovered Bikram yoga and I instantly fell in love with it,” she said. “At first I wanted to jump out the window, but the next day I knew I needed to come back.”
Krilivsky said she realized Bikram yoga could be highly beneficial to her patients. The body stores memories as well as the mind, she said, and the heat used in hot yoga helps tap into those memories.
“Our mind has cognitive memory, and our body has its own memory of whatever has occurred to us,” she said. “When you tap into that fascia and it becomes soft and malleable, you get to access these parts.”
Community is the third crucial piece in her method.
“Over the years, clinically and personally, I’ve learned that people can do all the work they want and have all the great skills they need and tap into their body but if they still feel alone and that they’re not normal, they are not going to recover.”
Bikram yoga studios also feature a large mirror in front. While some budding yogis may not be thrilled about seeing their increasingly sweaty performance during classes, Krilivsky said the mirror not only helps you ace poses, but gently face yourself.
“You get to face who you are, the consequences of what you eat, what you think, how you feel,” she said.
Also reflected in that mirror is a whole array of other people struggling, succeeding, failing and persevering through the same poses you are, adding to the sense of community, she said.
That bonding community feeling is also helpful for those not in traditional therapy.
“People who want to do a Bikram yoga class during their lunch hour, they get to eventually form these really beautiful relationships with themselves and their community,” she said.
Aside from aiding therapy, she said hot yoga has a wide array of benefits.
“If they’re looking to find out more of who they are or get a better understanding of themselves, if they want to burn calories, increase flexibility, have a better sex life, if they’re drinking too much wine, developing bad habits of addiction, they can try a Bikram yoga class, and feel 100 times better and sleep better at night,” she said. “There are so many beautiful health benefits for recovery from everything.”
Krilivsky encouraged those who may be wary of a yoga class in a 105-degree room to “come as you are.”
She said apprehension and hang-ups evaporate in the heat—there’s no room to worry about what anyone is thinking of you when you are struggling to catch your breath.
“Come as you are,” she said. “You are forced to allow yourself to be just as you are. Accept yourself and everything else naturally, beautifully falls into place.”
Much of her practice focuses on addiction recovery, and she said she has seen tremendous benefits from Bikram yoga.
Many addiction recovery methods focus on talk therapy and community, such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous meetings—but they are missing the body component in her three-pronged approach.
“You slow down and you gently face who you are, you develop these beautiful facets of who you are by slowing down and gaining perspective,” she said. “There’s discipline and perseverance and compassion and acceptance, allowing yourself just to be you.”