I believe that all yoga practices can be therapeutic. However, not all yoga teachers have the depth of experience and knowledge that enables them to support people with specific health issues.
Practitioners who offer therapeutic yoga provide a safe space for individual, experiential inquiry into skillful and constructive movement, breath patterns and relaxation meditation practice. They do not offer one-size-fits-all sequences, but carefully customize the practice for each individual or small group.
And as complementary health practitioners who are comfortable interacting and communicating with the medical professionals who are guiding treatment, yoga therapists do not hesitate to refer someone to their doctor if there is any doubt about a specific condition. Yoga therapists are not diagnosticians, and working with them is never a substitute for a medical consultation.
Current research is showing that yoga can be an effective intervention for back pain, for osteoporosis, for the management of chronic pain, and for PTSD as well as other health issues.
I am proud to be certified as a yoga therapist through the International Association of Yoga Therapists as they actively engage with the medical community to bring credibility to therapeutic yoga practices through research, education and guidelines for scope of practice.
In choosing to pursue this certification I hope to lead those who are seeking ways to support their own well-being toward the healing practices of yoga – to share the gift that yoga has been for me.
Yoga has been the calm, centering influence in my life for over 30 years.
Yoga is so much more than a unique way to exercise. Regular practice of yoga postures (asana) and breath awareness (pranayama) has a beneficial and healing effect that moves us well beyond increased flexibility or an elevated heart rate. We learn to listen and respond to our body’s signals in a way that is more inquisitive and less goal-oriented.
Self-observation and deep body sensing lead to an opening for us to truly understand how the body and mind influence one another, and often, the way we experience our world, both internal and external, begins to shift.
Over time, we learn to experience our body-mind-spirit connection with compassion for ourselves and for others.
I was a student of yoga for many years before I was called to teach.
Having studied anatomy, older adult populations and breast cancer protocols as a fitness professional, and having been a student of yoga for more than 10 years, I began leading my first yoga classes in 2003, at the request of my employer at the time.
Many women were coming to our private personal training studio with a breast cancer diagnosis, and the need for safe and welcoming alternatives to weight training became very clear. As I found my voice as a yoga teacher, I embraced the opportunity to study and gain more experience through countless workshops and seminars with senior teachers, and I continue to do so today.
My primary teachers and influences
Sita Frenkel, from the Sivananda tradition, was my first real yoga instructor in the 1980s. I can still hear her voice guiding our class into deliciously deep savasana.
John Schumacher, Unity Woods Yoga Center, 1991 – 2004. Iyengar yoga gave me my roots, and John was the primary conduit. I learned to listen, to pay attention to the details of each posture and breath, how to skillfully test my limits, how to stay grounded, how to find repose. I learned the importance of consistency in practice and steadiness of mind. Many senior Iyengar teachers provided immersion workshops during the years I was at UWYC, and I attended these regularly.
Barbara Benagh, a former Iyengar teacher who developed a unique and independent style, helped me gain the confidence to learn from my own practice, and to trust in my own voice.
Doug Keller, an independent and innovative teacher, satisfies my desire to link anatomical understanding and corrective movement with energetic lines and internal awareness. His instruction over the years shows me that yoga is a living, breathing and endlessly fascinating discipline.
The authors of books that have directly influenced my teaching are: BKS Iyengar, Geeta Iyengar. Judith Hansen Lasater, Donna Farhi, Dona Holleman, Patricia Walden, Erich Schiffmann, Doug Keller, Tom Meyers.