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  • Writer's pictureJoey Amato

Get to know Dr. Devi and her mind-body approach to LGBTQ+ wellness

Dr. Citrini Devi has worked with diverse LGBTQ+ populations for over twenty years and knows first-hand the power of connection, advocacy, and opportunities to cultivate resiliency and pride in the community.

The owner and director of Mind-Body Services, based in Drexel Hill, PA, Dr. Devi runs a private practice as a licensed psychologist, certified trauma professional, and certified yoga therapist and teacher, working with clients including trans and nonbinary youth, young adults, couples, family members, those in poly or open relationships, and those coming out later in life.

“These folx are often at much greater risk of mental health challenges, suicidal ideation, and substance use because of family or community rejection and society’s stigmatization of LGBTQ+ people,” Dr. Devi explains.

The statistics point to the critical need for support for the community. LGB adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults, and transgender individuals are nearly four times as likely as cisgender individuals, to experience a mental health condition, while attempted suicide rates among LGBTQ+ youth are significantly higher than that of the general U.S. population. The Trevor Project has reported that just one supportive adult in the life of an LGBTQ+ youth reduces suicide attempts by 40%.

Dr. Devi says, “Although it is beginning to change, many members of the LGBTQ+ community suffer from identity-based confusion or shame, isolation, loneliness, bigotry and abuse. To cope with those adversities, heal, and feel safe to be and express who one is, it’s crucial to find support, whether from professionals or in community.” Dr. Devi supports the population in numerous ways, including through assessments and letters for gender-affirming surgeries, advocacy with schools and workplaces, and education and support for families. 

"What I do in the world is very much about healing, our interrelatedness, and interconnection. I find that my own identity as part of the LGBTQ+ community speaks to how I gravitate toward being and thinking between conventional norms, and I bring that perspective to my therapeutic work. I’m proud to have my practice be an LGBTQ+ and gender-affirming space."

Although Dr. Devi knew as a young teen that she identified as bisexual and came out to family and friends in those years, it would take many years of additional inner work, including in psychotherapy, body-based healing, and finding and creating supportive relationships, to cope with and heal her own associated pain. “As a bisexual cisgender woman, I have dealt with family rejection, been misunderstood, and worked through my own pain and internalized homophobia, including a period involving suicidal ideation. I have not suffered as many have suffered in this community, however. I personally have found a combination of more traditional talk therapy combined with meditation, mindfulness, breathwork, yoga and body-based practices, and relaxation and energy work to be powerfully healing and integrating. As a result, I’m passionate about advocating for and supporting members of the community, including via alternative, integrative, and holistic healing modalities.”

Dr. Devi has studied and seen the benefits of integrating psychotherapy with embodied and energy-based practices such as yoga, meditation, and Reiki (a Japanese energy and bodywork technique) in cultivating well-being and healing. She has trained in using meditation techniques and principles of Buddhist psychology in psychotherapy, practiced Buddhism in academic settings and in a monastic setting in Bodh Gaya, India, and studied Tibetan Medicine and Mental Illness in Kathmandu, Nepal. Her dissertation research involved investigating the mental health benefits of yoga practice on at-risk youth in a partial hospitalization program.

Her TriYoga hOMe Philadelphia studio offerings promote physical and mental health and help clients connect to their own natural capacities for healing, self-regulation, and resilience. In addition to yoga therapy and private instruction, the studio offers weekly classes—open to students of all experience levels and abilities—in TriYoga®, a complete hatha yoga method. It is important to Dr. Devi to offer a gender-affirming and body-positive space in which all can relax, connect with embodied experience, and be oneself.

“Yoga can be a powerful tool when words fail or are inadequate: a way to shift patterns, awareness, or energy if you have more difficulty expressing yourself or if traditional (talk) therapy has only gone so far,” Dr. Devi says. “We are beings with bodies and experiences that are sometimes difficult to describe through language. Yoga has been shown to affect the nervous system by improving the ability to self-regulate, affecting the mind and body bidirectionally. For example, the mind affects the body through the use of cognitive tools like meditation and visualization, and the body affects the mind through movement and breathing techniques that change the state of the nervous system and affect thoughts and emotions.”

Dr. Devi’s offerings reach beyond her Drexel Hill-based practice with digital courses offering online yoga class replays and breath and meditation techniques. Recordings of her live classes are available for a small monthly fee and can be accessed on-demand.

In her “Just Breathe” courses, she teaches 14 brief yogic breathing and meditation practices to feel more centered, grounded, and calm—with versions for adults and for kids and their caregivers. She is also author of The Mystical Garden, an illustrated children’s story and yoga-based journey through nature that connects children deeply with themselves and the natural world around them. “Teaching youth to stress less, feel more present, more calm, and more at ease in their body-minds—especially if they regularly feel uncomfortable in their bodies, internal world, home, or communities—is essential to developing coping and self-regulation skills and positive felt-experience and self-regard.”

A holistic approach to health and wellness can benefit anyone at any age. “Many of us have received messages throughout our lives that we should be different than we are or would like to be,” Dr. Devi says. “The process of consciously examining our thoughts, behaviors, and assumptions can align us with our true nature. It can be important to reject beliefs and ways of being that no longer serve us, do not align with who we really are, or otherwise limit and control us. It can be useful to have a guide, a supporter, or a companion during this process of examination and redefining oneself, and that’s what I aim to be in my work with clients and students.”

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