How is Yoga Therapy Different than a Regular Yoga Class?

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

What is Restorative Yoga?

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!

xoxo

Letting go of shame: Observational Meditation


Shame: it’s ugly head pops up and creeps in, most awkwardly and uncomfortably. With new experiences, relationships, and the deepening of such, I see anew where shame still lives. Seemingly never fully out of its grasp (we are always a work in progress), I use awareness and meditation to face it and then let it go without fanfare (because it doesn’t need or deserve much of my energy or focus). 

The best tool I have found to let go of shame, and any other unwanted emotion or feeling, is through the practice of Observational Meditation. Here’s how I do it:

1. I find a comfortable position, lying down or seated, somewhere quiet and where I won’t be bothered. I decide on a time: 2 minutes, 10 minutes, or longer as desired, and I set my meditation timer. (I use the free app I-Qi timer.)

2. I begin to still myself. Breathe. I settle down and settle in. Taking my time, I begin to label thoughts as they arise. (This helps us become less invested in them and breaks the chains of identity to them. Labeling also separates beliefs from reality.) Taking time to label these thoughts, perhaps even a few times, I get to their root feeling, emotion, belief, or other such deep connection. I often exhale when I get to the core thought, then I know I’ve got it. (If you have a hard time deciding which is the core thought, that’s fine, just pick a label and go with it. The body/mind/spirit will speak to you again. Remember, it’s all just practice.)

3. After labeling the thoughts, I become aware of where I feel this thought in the body. This may come easily, or sometimes I have to sit with the thought/label for some time before I’m able to identify where it lives in my body. I stay with the thought long enough to actually feel it, remembering that the goal isn’t to change or get rid of anything but to observe and experience whatever arises. Sometimes this actually works the other way around: I feel and become very aware of a feeling/area within my body, and then I label it. 

4. That’s it! I just sit with the feeling/labeled thought for as long as I need for it to dissipate and lose its hold on me. Usually this is a matter of seconds before a new thought arises and I move on, but sometimes it’s a minute or so. This is such a simple practice, but one that is super powerful and one that does take effort. 

The fun news is that since practicing this technique in comfort and quiet, I can now do this anywhere and at any time, and really, this is the point: to embody this tool and use it when feelings of shame or anything else that no longer serves, arises. 

The harder we resist, the stronger unwanted feelings become. It’s the Self’s way to get our attention to make a change. Think of this practice like a dog that needs to go to the bathroom. He will continue to bark or whine or pester you until you let him out. Our body, mind, and spirit are the same: communicating to us through thoughts and feelings to get our attention to act. 

Shame sucks. Here’s to letting to go and moving on!

Let me know how it works for you. 

xoxo