Yoga for Therapy is different from a regular yoga class in several ways. A regular yoga class uses poses and breath and meditation in a specific style to build strength and awareness, considering the person and their abilities second. There’s a particular formulaic yoga exercise pattern and the person molds to this style. Yoga for Therapy however, considers the person first: your abilities, limitations, history, goals, surgeries, injuries, background, beliefs, experience, comfort, etc. and uses ANY breath work style, meditation, yoga pose or no yoga poses at all(!!), to help you find wholeness, or whatever your goal may be. In Yoga for Therapy, there are no rules, no set patterns. Although from one session to the next, it may be very similar, because of a person’s goals and limitations, it can vary drastically from person to person what a session looks like. Yoga for Therapy is about wholeness, it’s about healing, it’s about uniting the parts of ourselves that are fragmented: be that broken bones, or mind/body, for cancer recovery, or high blood pressure, anxiety or depression, or just to learn what all this yoga hype is about! I think of a regular yoga class as Yang in nature: it’s regimented and specific (which isn’t bad!!), whereas Yoga for Therapy is Yin in nature: there are no rules, we’re using the art of yoga to serve you personally.
With a Yoga for Therapy session, there’s a complete in-depth interview of your goals, past experiences including injuries and surgeries, an assessment of your current state of health, experience with yoga (or lack of), religious background, mental health, etc., as well as an assessment of current physical abilities. This initial interview helps the teacher determine how to shape the best session(s) for you, or your group, meeting you where you are, and helping you achieve your goals. Each subsequent session includes a short checkin to make sure we’re all on the right path, recalibration if necessary and wanted.
I have found Yoga for Therapy to serve those that are brand new to yoga, those that have a busy and varied schedule and can’t attend a regular class, and those that have very specifics needs, be that injuries or surgery recovery, immobility of some kind, or a health issue that causes limitations. Yoga for Therapy is very forgiving and let’s you, the practitioner, shape your experience in a much more wholistic and interactive way than a traditional yoga class. Yoga for Therapy is often what a doctor has in mind when they prescribe yoga for and to their patients.
Let me know if you want to set up your own Yoga for Therapy session(s), individually, or for your group, in your own home, or at my private yoga studio in Redding, CA. 530-710-8870 or info@OnWaterYoga.com
This yoga practice is about slowing down and using lots of props to support and gently stretch the body. In a typical restorative practice only a few easy poses are done: a gentle chest opener, a mellow inversion, a twist, a fold, and nuances can stem from there to include inner thighs, groin, chest, shoulders, and leg lengthening postures to name just a few. In a restorative practice, the body is fully supported by using lots of props like bolsters, a mat, blocks, blankets, straps, and sandbags. Each pose usually lasts for 5 minutes or longer, depending on the length of the session, giving time to breathe and be, still, connecting the body, mind, and spirit.
Life is busy and full. With restorative yoga, we give ourselves time to rest and digest, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and allowing ourselves to process and be with our experiences, perhaps shaping how we’d like to move forward.
Sometimes this practice can be challenging because we have nothing to distract ourselves from our thoughts, feelings, and emotions and this isn’t always comfortable; however, with the right guide, this yoga can be the key to moving on and forward in, and with life to live our fullest and best. Meditative techniques and opportunities can be given during the experience to stop the thought loop(s) that can hinder us, subconsciously: giving time and space for the body and mind to begin to unite and harmonize. In restorative yoga, we get to relax, ground ourselves, and begin to see from a higher perspective thus better able to move forward with courage, strength, flexibility, and resiliency.
The health benefits are many for slowing down, stretching, and meditating and include: improving immune function, digestion, fertility, detoxification and elimination, as well as reducing high blood pressure, stress, muscle tension, and general fatigue.
I offer a regular group Restorative Yoga practice in Redding, CA each week, workshops, and work with many private clients using this technique. For so many, this practice is the key they’ve been missing in their exercise routine and life, and they are surprised at how such a simple practice can bring such relief and happiness to their daily lives.
Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll see you on the mat, soon!
I often forget that other people don’t know what I know, a common mistake of experts, for sure. So, to help remedy that, I want to explain what is Vinyasa Yoga (called many different things: Slow Flow, Flow, Energetic Flow, etc.) and why I think you’ll love it as much as I do.
Vinyasa Yoga is:
1. A flow. A dance. It’s movement partnered with breath. It’s an inhale to open or elongate your body and an exhale to deepen and fold.
2. It’s an intelligently designed sequence of postures that strengthen and stretch the entire body. Often the instructor will have a specific area of focus for that class (say backbends for example) but none the less, every area of the body should receive a little love, opening, releasing, stretching, and strengthening along the way.
3. A Vinyasa class will often have fun, upbeat, modern music played right along with the traditional Indian yoga music you think of when you think yoga class. Music is used to build up speed and heat and bring us back then into relaxation at the end. A techno dance song can be soon followed by a Steve Wonder slow song without a raise of an eyebrow.
4. It’s a moving meditation. Classes usually start with a seated meditation practice: a breath focused meditation, a hold of a mudra (hand gesture), a feel/sense of a particular body part, an awareness of the inner sanctuary, etc. Meditation has a long history of health benefits.
5. It’s fun and playful! A Vinyasa class will often bring in a posture or pose variation (or two or three) that aren’t “in the book.” This playfulness brings a humility and trust from the students to follow the skilled guidance of the instructor. This may be one of my favorite aspects: childlikeness, humility, trust.
Of course, all yoga is about consulting your body (and perhaps a doctor to see if it’s right for you at this time) and really hearing, feeling, getting to know what is good for you and your body in that moment. There are so many variables on any given day including the food we eat, the sleep we got or didn’t, prior injuries, medications, thoughts, emotions, etc. and each day is new. One more reason to love yoga: it’s an opportunity to learn and familiarize yourself again with your body, mind, and spirit, and live in the moment. The mat (or paddleboard!!) shows us what’s in our hearts and minds and gives us the chance to right it if need be.
The Vinyasa Yoga tradition combines ancient wisdom and experience with modern fun and advances. I hope to see you in a Vinyasa Yoga class soon.
A few days ago a friend asked me, innocently enough, “What are you going to do about it?” referencing the sporadic recurring pain in my leg from an old skiing accident. I’ve thought about this question a lot over the past few days and wanted to share what I have been doing because, really, most people probably don’t know how one recovers from 3/4 of a broken lower leg and an ovarian cancer death sentence. I mention the cancer because they are inextricably linked to the pain and debilitation I am experiencing now and am recovering from.
We humans are interconnected in so many ways, not just spirit, soul, and body, but also with each other, God, and even further than that: the cells, muscles, ligaments, and tissues of our body’s are connected from one hip to the opposite hand, one foot to the same knee, the chest to the back, etc. Because of this beautiful dance that we have with each other, ourselves, and our Creator, there isn’t a single fix or cure-all for most people. Even the miracle stories we hear, whether they are healing, financial, or otherwise, have a backstory. For example, when the Holy Spirit fell in “tongues of fire” in Acts 2, the “and suddenly” of that miracle was preceded by “all joining together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14). Those “and suddenly” moments (Acts 2:2) happen, and they are miraculous, for sure, but there is more to the story and it usually involves patience. Patience is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and one that is hard to live through, especially in our modern world of instant everything. As I grow in fruitfulness, i.e. patience, take what I’ve learned back to your own life and be fruitful and healed.
What I am in doing to recover from cancer and a painful old skiing accident:
1. Chiropractic: I have been seeing a Network Spinal Analysis chiropractor since October and for 6 months, saw him 3 times a week. You can check out my guy and why he’s amazing, here.
2. Massage: I’ve been getting it once a week to loosen the hold that the scar tissue has from surgeries (I’ve had 12), falls, accidents, and bruises. I’ve come to think of these two health care practitioners working together like this: my chiropractor is shifting my body structurally and neurologically and my massage therapist is kneading out the bumps in the road, so-to-speak, so that the whole system works better together.
3. Foam Roller: recommended by both my massage therapist and chiropractor, this helps to continue to release the scar tissue and myofascial tissue that has been bound up from all the surgeries and injuries. I use the blue Go Fit Foam Roller and have been really happy with it. I like that it comes with a little instruction book to show how to use it.
4. Body wrap: as my body continues to shift and realign itself, toxins that have been trapped and stored in my cells from the 13 weeks of 8 hours a day chemo, CT-scan contrast, narcotic drug pain relievers, pesticides, herbicides, pollution in the air, and even toxic emotions and bad choices, need to be removed. Some of the benefits of this wrap are: detoxification, growth and regeneration of new skin cells, it’s so natural it’s edible, reduces stretch marks, scars, and cellulite, empties and destroys fat cells. This above picture is me wrapped from the chest down with the wrap.
5. Essential oils: my massage therapist gave me a therapeutic blend of oils to reduce inflammation and it is seeming to help with some of the pain. I’ve been able to get to sleep at night without taking a pain reliever, which is good.
6. Yoga: it boosts immunity, allows for better sleep, and promotes overall better health. You can read more about it here and join me for classes here.
7. R.I.C.E: R = rest, I = ice, C = compression, E = elevation (above the heart). A long standing first aid application for injuries.
8. Nutrition: I eat organic, local, and take supplements to help my body perform at it’s peak. I take a daily multi called Thrive and have added the Monatau Extreme recently to help rid my body of the stored toxins from all the new adjusting I’m receiving from my chiro and massage therapist.
9. Dry brush: Before I shower, I dry brush my skin. Some of the benefits are: increases circulation and lymphatic drainage, tightens the skin, stimulates the lymph system to drain toxins, helps muscle tone, and rejuvenates the nervous system. I use a natural boar bristle dry-brush. You can get one similar to what I use here.
10. Castor Oil Pack: I’ve been applying this directly to my old break site in my leg and I’ve used it on the ileostomy and surgical incision scars on my belly. Benefits include: relives pain, decreases inflammation, detoxifies, it’s also been said to help with infertility. I use cold pressed and cold processed castor oil so the nutrients are preserved and wool flannel to apply it. Plastic wrap will help secure it in place. Learn more about how to apply it and the benefits here.
11. Prayer: Everything is possible to those who believe (Mark 9:23). Jesus told us to pray for God’s “will (to be) done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10) and because there is no sickness or disease or pain in heaven, I am praying and asking for prayer for this to manifest in my life, and in yours. One of God’s many names is Jehovah Rapha, which means healer (Exodus 15:26).
12. Advil: when all else fails. I am not a fan of drugs, but when the pain is too incomprehensible and all my other efforts haven’t worked, I need a relief. This is a good point for many reasons: don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater; God gave us pain relievers; don’t abuse, stop using them and try other things first; this is not meant to be a way of life: your body is in pain for a reason and it’s a signal that something needs to change; being in too much pain is exhausting and not good either, the body needs a reprieve in order to mend and heal.
I don’t do all these things at once or even in the same week. Too much detoxification can be dangerous as well and your body can experience a detoxification crisis. Talk to your health care practitioner and get help with your specific situation. We are all different and it helps to be in community and on a team to be the best you possible. La Salud offers a Health Coach and is a great place to start.
As with all things, go slow, take your time, and enjoy the journey. I’ll be smelling the roses, come join me!