A Yoga Therapy approach to healing and wellness adapts the various means and methods of Yoga practice to the unique condition, needs and interests of each individual. Each practitioner receives tools for personalizing the process of self-discovery, thus establishing genuine transformation.

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Yoga Therapy: A Working definition

Yoga therapy is of modern coinage and represents a first effort to integrate traditional yogic concepts and techniques with Western medical and psychological knowledge.

Whereas traditional group yoga classes are primarily concerned with personal transcendence (and designed for practitioners to be be able to move their body with ease and sufficient energy); Yoga Therapy aims at the holistic treatment of various kinds of psychological or somatic dysfunctions/conditions ranging from back pain to headaches, to diabetes, arthritis, auto-immune, and trauma/grief/ emotional distress.

Both approaches (traditional group and therapeutic and individualized) share an understanding of the human being as an integrated body-mind system, which can function optimally only when there is a state of dynamic balance.

The general long-term goals include:

  • reducing the symptoms of suffering which may be reduced
  • managing the symptoms that cannot be reduced
  • rooting out causes wherever possible
  • improving life function
  • shifting attitude and perspective in relationship to life's challenges

We teach Yoga as a complementary system of health, not an alternative one. It supports and works in conjunction with your normal medical treatments, and we ask you to continue your personal health routine as suggested by your doctor or medical professional.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

Customized for you. The impact of your injury, illness, tightness, pain, strain, condition, stress, trauma, or (physical, mental, emotional) concern is unique to you. My approach is to understand your background, assess your movement and design a yoga practice specific to helping you meet your goals and intentions. 

Your body can change. It doesn’t matter how big, small, old or young you are. With the appropriate combination of exercises, movements and breathing techniques, every body can experience an improvement in function and a reduction or elimination of pain/tension and stress.

Don’t force. The less you force the faster you will get well. Those who “let go” of forcing are the ones who not only get out of pain the fastest - their strength and stability also improve the quickest.

Yoga Therapy sessions are taught on a 1-on-1 basis in order to select tools from the practice of yoga under the Krishnamacharya tradition to provide the means to bring out the best in each practitioner. To do this, I require an understanding of a person's present condition, personal potential, appropriate goals and the means available.  Just as every person is different, these aspects will vary with each individual.


Pain and Yoga Therapy

Balasana to Ustrasana practiced dynamically to improve range of motion

Pain is a sign that there is dysfunction in your body. With chronic pain, rarely is the area of pain the actual problem. The trick is to improve your functional movement and your overall body balance. As you do, you’ll gain a great understanding of what leads to your pain cycles and what you can do to shift that experience. As you practice, you’ll notice your pain reducing, your ease and calmness increasing and your strength improving. As that occurs you’ll be able to do more movement, and more activity. And if you want to go to a regular yoga class, your body will be ready.

Yoga therapy is a personalized approach to relieving your pain, improving your flexibility, enhancing your strength and developing the ability of becoming relaxed and connected to what is important to you.

Based on your current state of wellness, a personalized practice of yoga postures, meditation and breathing techniques is designed specific to your needs and goals. During your session, I will guide you through your program, helping you progress at the pace that suits you best.

Thank you again for such a wonderful hour. My shoulders feel so warm and glowing- almost like I’m feeling them for the first time! Beyond the physiological benefits I feel after our sessions, I feel grateful, full of love, and truly cared for. It’s carrying over into my life when I come home. I feel like my capacity for joy and love is increased after our sessions. Thank you so, so much.
— Jeff, Yoga Therapy client

A Typical Session

Intake: Inquiring and assessing student's health history, current treatments and medications, current physical, mental and emotional condition, and student's health and wellness goals

Yoga Practice: Each practice is tailored to suit your specific needs, capabilities, goals, and life circumstances. We will then teach you this personal practice

Take Home: Students will be provided an accompanying diagram of the practice to be done at home

Follow-Up Sessions: Throughout this process, you are strongly encouraged to check in with me with any questions, concerns or personal feedback. Depending on your needs, follow up sessions may be needed to revise and update your practice. As you change, so must the practice

How often?

 

       

I begin by seeing new clients regularly, ideally on a weekly basis in order to establish routine, then begin to graduate clients to bi-weekly to monthly and eventually to an as-needed basis. 

Techniques Used

Individualized movements sequenced appropriately for you

Pranayama (mindful breathing technique)

Ayurvedic Wellness Counselling 

Mindfulness Meditation practices

Visualization techniques

Use of Sound and Mantra

Self-massage techniques 

Conscious communication skill building

Yoga Nidra (conscious relaxation practice, recorded for home use)


The Benefits of a therapeutic Yoga practice

Since the practice of Yoga Therapy is modified to suit the individual, the person does not need to meet any requirements of fitness, age, or health in order to start a therapeutic process. Almost everyone would benefit from Yoga Therapy, regardless of his or her medical condition.

What makes Yoga Therapy so beneficial is its ability to affect all levels of the human system. By practicing Yoga therapeutically, the student not only feels better, but also gains a way to actively participate in the care of his or her own health. Common benefits experienced by many students include: improvement in quality of sleep, elimination of pain, and reduction in stress. Medically speaking, you will be educated in how to support the functioning of the parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn supports your homeostasis, healing and overall wellness.

Physiological

  • Increase circulation (especially peripheral)
  • Improve digestion
  • Improve immunity
  • Increase distal sensation
  • Increase amount of O2 in blood
  • Regulate heart rate
  • Regulate blood pressure
  • Regulate respiratory rate

 

Psychological

  • Increase emotional stability
  • Increase confidence
  • Reduce depression
  • Reduce panic attacks and anxiety
  • Reduce fear
  • Increase level of alertness and sharpness of mind
  • Acceptance of limitations

Quality of Life

  • Eliminate insomnia
  • Improve quality of sleep
  • Promote relaxation
  • Improve quality of relationships
  • Assist with weight loss
  • Promote healthy food habits (less emphasis on sugar, caffeine)
  • Promote healthy life habits (decrease craving for alcohol, smoking)


Physical

  • Decrease pain
  • Increase ease of breathing
  • Improve ease of movement
  • Improve joint mobility
  • Decrease risk of falls
  • Improve spine / joint stability
  • Increase strength and flexibility

 

Other Benefits

  • Reducing pain and discomfort, overcoming physical or emotional trauma, and recovering from illness, injury, addiction, or other health concerns
  • Reducing stress, overcoming depression, anxiety, and psychological trauma, and helping to manage and deal with life-threatening illness.
  • Maintaining current health and well being, preventing illness or injury, and increasing flexibility and strength including preparing for, or complementing an existing health maintenance or fitness program
  • Personal and/or spiritual growth. In the case of spiritual growth, we feel it is important to note that the course followed would be initiated by the student's own interest and complimentary your personal spiritual practices, beliefs, and preferences.

Yoga Therapy at the Integrative Health Institute

Yoga Therapy at the Integrative Health Institute

When I contacted you to start private yoga sessions I was experiencing a lot of difficulties with my work. I represent victims of physical and sexual abuse and have what the experts call “vicarious trauma”. Your yoga sessions have brought me incredible comfort in dealing with this issue. You are an incredible yoga therapist not just for people with physical ailments but also for those of us dealing with ailments of the mind.
— Alice, yoga therapy client