Yoga Therapy: What it Is, How it Works, The Missing Piece of Health it Addresses

Note: if you are wondering if yoga therapy is for you and you are on the fence call the office and just book in for an introductory session (403) 609-8385. It’ll just feel like a supported, private yoga class and we can assess to see if this is a good fit for where your health is and what your health goals are. Digestive, sleep, infertility, inflexibility. overwhelm and adrenal issues are common areas that benefit from the Chakra 1 to 3 yoga therapy sequences. Wear loose comfortable clothing to the session. Be prepared to leave feeling a bit lighter and longer as your body’s wisdom meets yoga wisdom and tension and old energy that was literally stuck in the body is released so increased health can flow in those regions . (-:

Yoga Therapy Overview

One of the game-changing benefits of the Yoga Therapy I practice in my clinic is that it addresses a piece of wellness that is often missed when we focus solely on the physical. This piece is the energetic/emotional piece.

Some people misunderstand ‘energetic’ and interpret that having an ‘energetic’ component to them means something way out there or mysterious. Our emotions (energy in motion) are part of our energy system and show up physically as tension in the body.

Try this: think of something that upset/frustrated you this week or is a worry for you lately and take a moment to drop your awareness into your body … scan your body to see what you notice sensation-wise in your body when you bring the upsetting incident to mind … your throat, heart area, solar plexus, and gut area are all good areas to check …

So, what do you notice?

Chances are you feel a tightness/pressure/heaviness/constriction or some not super comfortable sensation in one of those parts when you bring your attention there. This is you feeling stuck energy in your energy system. Simple as that. When we feel ‘triggered’ or that someone is ‘pushing our buttons’ it is this stuck energy that we are being tuned into. Stuck energy overtime translates to physical stuckness/unhealth.

Yoga Therapy works with the body at the mind-body interface and can address the health of the physicality and energetics of the body - this affects our whole vitality. Many psychologists agree that, “the issue is in the tissues” and that to heal you often need to address the stuck emotions/energy in the body. For many individuals who find that they are in their head a lot, yoga therapy and other bodywork can feel like a grounded, effective way to address and heal unresolved issues from the past that still live as tension/constriction in the physical body and are affecting that part of the body including the glands/organs there.

What is Yoga Therapy ?

There are several schools that teach Yoga Therapy. I have learned from the Amrit Yoga Institute.

This particular type of treatment is based on yoga therapy and yoga based facilitation techniques and on the following four naturopathic and yogic principles:

1. Your body has an innate wisdom and knows how to heal itself on all levels.

2. The body is a warehouse of mental and emotional as well as physical tensions.

3. The same energy that heals your body also knows how to help you recognize the state of wholeness that you already are. Energy wants to be released. It is coming to go. Energy will move until it’s complete.

4. By removing the barriers to maximal energy flow, we optimize our mental, physical and emotional well-being.

 What does a session look like?

·      First off is Assessment: we assess where tension/tightness (stuck energy) is in the body based on your symptoms, by looking at your range of motion and flexibility and by teaching you how to feel areas of restricted flow in yourself and from what you find.

·      Second: Sequences of poses are chosen and begun. Basically it’s like a yin yoga class in the sense that poses are held for longer times than a Flow class. Poses that work on the lower half of the body are held supportively by the client and facilitator at an "edge”. There is no physical pain in the edge but there can be agitation, frustration, restlessness, sensation – if you have held a yoga pose you have probably experienced this when you just wanted to get out of the pose early even though you weren’t in pain. As we hold a pose and breathe and bring non-judgmental awareness to it, the old energy of emotions and other tensions naturally come up and are released.

·     During the poses awareness facilitation techniques are used to allow the tension to unwind. The body’s natural wisdom is always orchestrating things to move in the direction of health and balance but the body needs to feel it is safe to do that and the yoga therapy facilitation helps create the space where the body and mind understands it is safe and can let the body relax and release.

Why do we end up suppressing emotions/do emotions get stuck in the body?

·      Feels overwhelming/not comfortable … basically feels ‘not good’. It’s human nature to avoid pain and seek pleasure and most of us were never taught how to naturally allow them to be and just flow through.

·      Fear that we are going to get lost in it and won’t know how to get back.

·      Without us blocking an emotion, e-motions just do their energy in motion thing and take less than 60 seconds to flow through and complete. We want to support the body in releasing old energy since emotions that are stuck in the body for a long time are known to cause disease and decreased well-being in that area.

Working with stuck energy isn’t by nature scary or hard – releasing it is as natural to the body as going to the bathroom! Energy wants to flow. Stuck energy has predictable ways to move and complete. A yoga therapist is trained in understanding this and in creating space for this to happen at a pace that is right for your body. Your body’s wisdom is the guide.

These are some examples of what a facilitator/therapist might say to support a client in staying with whatever sensation arises with curiosity and kindness ...

·      Let the body open at its’ own time.

·      Allow yourself to feel whatever sensations are there fully.

·      Just use your breath to stay present and just be with it.

·      Give it permission to be just as it is.

·      Release any defensive tensions.

·      What comes, comes to go.

·      Be the container for all experiences to move through.

·      Climb right into it. Roll around in it.

·      Be curious, spacious, open.

What I have noticed is that over time clients learn how to hold loving presence for themselves by using similar coaching/facilitation phrases that help them to support this depth of healing … the healing power of kind, loving attention is pretty amazing to see in action …

This is prevention at its best as you can resolve imbalances before they get physical and address the underlying cause of symptoms that are already physical.Well, I hope this helps your understanding of this therapy and for those of you who are clients that I have referred here now you have a written copy of some of the phrases we use in session to further support you in this reconnecting and embodying yourself and your flow.

If this is new to you and you are curious do come in and experience it for yourself as part of a naturopathic session at the clinic in Canmore - 205, 1205 - Bow Valley Trail! Call (403) 609-8385. This treatment is available one-on-one for clients anytime after the initial intake visit. Periodic yoga therapy group classes/series are also available.

May you be deeply well. xo, Dr. Monika