- How did you begin your journey to becoming a Yoga Therapist?
From the moment I set foot in a yoga class I could feel it’s potential for healing. I was working as a nurse in those days and my weekly yoga session energised me and eased the stress of long hours on my feet in the NHS and being a single mum to 4 year old. As time progressed I had a real desire to be able to bring Yoga to the people I was looking after in the hospital as I could see its benefits at least equalled medication in so many cases. Back then my first step was to learn about yoga through teaching, which I did through the British Wheel of Yoga. I vividly remember the high levels of anxiety standing up in front of people and teaching triggered and it took years before those nerves would calm. Little did I know that it would also be part of my own healing journey and that becoming my own yoga therapist to myself. Fifteen years into my yoga career, enrolled with The Minded Institute to train as a yoga therapist.
- What was the most eye opening part of your journey/training?
If I’m completely honest the most eye opening part of becoming a yoga therapist has been the personal work involved. I’d expected to learn about applying and adapting yoga poses, breathing and meditation to working with people with physical and mental health conditions and I was already teaching the health benefits of things like mantra and mudra in my regular classes. What I hadn’t bargained on was what I would learn from my own l practice and having first hand experience of what I would be offering to clients including the barriers and difficulties. I also developed a real passion for the brain and nervous system and how easily we can alter not only our experience on the outside but also to influence our physiology on the inside and make lasting changes to the way we respond to the world.
- Who can Yoga Therapy support?
Yoga as a therapy can support people facing most chronic health challenges. I have worked with people who have multiple sclerosis, ME/Chronic fatigue, chronic pain, migraines, IBS, Crohns Disease, Parkinson’s, Dementia, Cancer both with people facing the end of their life and those undergoing treatments. Also mental health problems such as bipolar and unipolar depression, chronic stress and anxiety or PTSD and Addictions.
The physical and mental health stuff overlaps considerably. By addressing stress and depression, physical symptoms and potential treatment side effects (e.g. in cancer therapy) can be managed. Also, it is now known that suppressed psychological issues may often show up in the body as chronic illness or pain.
But you don’t need to have an obvious illness to benefit from yoga as a therapy. Life experiences, emotions and reactions are stored in the body (samskaras) long after we may have forgotten in the brain. Yoga therapy provides an opportunity for us to be curious about our unique patterns and provides an approach to working with self limiting behaviours, such as low confidence, chronic busy-ness or difficulties prioritising self-care, in a safe and personal way.
- What do you find participants are surprised by when starting Yoga Therapy?
How much they learn about themselves and how to identify links. How simple and quick it can be to make significant change to health and wellbeing through breath and body practices. Even long term practitioners of yoga who may have maybe been taught in one particular way have been struck by the depth of simple practices.
- How is Yoga Therapy different to talking therapy? Can the two complement each other?
Talking therapies allow us to discuss important parts of our life and have someone bear witness to that experience. Yoga therapy allows an opportunity for the physical experience of the emotions that may arise with those memories and thoughts to move through the body in a somatic way. This is particularly helpful for clients who have suffered trauma whether that’s been sudden or chronic and sustained such as childhood abuse. In a Yoga therapy session there is space for what ever the client needs and sometimes that can be talking, but with that, the practices can empower a client with the skills of regulation and self awareness to be present with difficult or painful feelings which can help them to be processed. For this reason, yoga therapy is a perfect complement to talking therapy.
- What can someone expect during a session with you?
Every person is different so no yoga therapy session is the same. The first time we meet will be about getting to know each other and for me understanding the context within which Yoga therapy can take place in someone’s life. I’ll take a look at the way a person is breathing and observe how they hold their body, as this can have a fundamental effect on the way we feel. I also allow time to listen, to hear how the client experiences whatever concern or condition they may be bringing. Over the sessions that follow this can be (anything between five and eight, maybe longer, dependant on the needs of the person) we’ll work closely and collaboratively to determine what the goals of therapy will be and how that can be achieved. Time spent in the session provides opportunity to suggest and experiment with practices (physical postures from a variety of yoga traditions, intuitive movement, breath-work, meditation, mantra, visualisation are just some of the tools we can draw on). Together we create a ‘prescription’ for a manageable reflective, self-practice, which is actually where the healing continues. A Yoga therapy session is a safe space, where we are not concerned about how “good” or “bad’ at yoga we are. It’s an opportunity to develop awareness and curiosity about the whole self: body, mind and spirit.
- What is your favourite thing about what you do?
I love meeting people and the privilege of working closely, observing how bodies, breath and life are linked and helping someone else see that in themselves. The impact of teaching a simple practice which can allow huge shifts for someone.
I love that the tools of yoga therapy allows me the opportunity offer space for a client to explore their fullest potential.
- Where can we find you and how do we book?
I’ll be offering in person sessions at the Secret Space, Online via Zoom or, if you have space in your home (especially during current times and the need to socially distance), I can come to you.