"Yoga must always be adapted to an individual's changing needs in order to derive the maximum therapeutic benefit." ~ T Krishnamacharya
I am certified yoga therapist through the International Association of Yoga Therapists. Click here for the IAYT official definition of yoga therapy with the thoughts of leaders in the field. My teaching and philosophies are most aligned with the following definitions:
Yoga therapy, derived from the Yoga tradition of Patanjali and the Ayurvedic system of health care refers to the adaptation and application of Yoga techniques and practices to help individuals facing health challenges at any level manage their condition, reduce symptoms, restore balance, increase vitality, and improve attitude. ~ Gary Kraftsow American Viniyoga Institute
Yoga comprises a wide range of mind/body practices, from postural and breathing exercises to deep relaxation and meditation. Yoga therapy tailors these to the health needs of the individual. It helps to promote all-round positive health, as well as assisting particular medical conditions. The therapy is particularly appropriate for many chronic conditions that persist despite conventional medical treatment. ~ Marie Quail, Yoga Therapy and Training Center (Ireland)
Yoga therapy consists of the application of yogic principles, methods, and techniques to specific human ailments. In its ideal application, Yoga therapy is preventive in nature, as is Yoga itself, but it is also restorative in many instances, palliative in others, and curative in many others. ~ Art Brownstein, M.D
Privately, I have worked with a wide array of clients whose conditions have included spinal cord injuries, neuromuscular disease, cancer in remission, ADD, abuse and trauma, asthma, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, scoliosis, sports injuries, musculoskeletal disease, piriformis syndrome, back pain, neck pain, chronic pain, frozen shoulder, rotator cuff injury, sacroiliac instability after pregnancy, pelvic floor weakness, challenging symptoms of menopause and other conditions. In small group classes at in-patient facilities I have worked with victims of rape, abuse and neglect, and with individuals suffering from addiction. I treated my twin infant daughter's torticollis and plagiocephaly in conjunction with a physical therapist, helping her be one of the few children with those conditions who do not need to wear a helmet to help correct them. I regularly work with students in tandem with treatment they are receiving from medical professionals. I currently am developing a Yoga and Corrective Exercise module for students at the Los Angeles School of Chiropractic at the Southern California University of Health Sciences with Dr. Richard Cheung and Sonya Perry, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT. I created and teach a 12-hr Integrated Yoga Anatomy module for 200-hr yoga teacher trainings.
When choosing a yoga therapist, it is important to remember that while the right yoga instructor may be educated, experienced and instrumental in helping you heal or manage chronic conditions, yoga teachers are not clinicians and cannot diagnose problems unless they happen also to be a doctor, physical therapist or other qualified medical professional. Most therapeutic yoga teachers I know would never claim to be able to diagnose problems, but throughout my career I have observed some yoga teachers who would. All trainings in which I've participated, on the student or leader side, have stressed this fact. Consider this when looking for a therapeutic yoga instructor, and consider also that, like other professions, yoga teachers may have specialties and more training and experience in some areas than others.
Click HERE for yoga therapy inquiries.
For Gwen’s personal experiences with yoga therapy visit her blog HERE.
Yoga Therapy and Mobility Training for Athletes
Mobility for Athletes brings the oft-underutilized mobility component of training to athletes via one-on-one private yoga sessions at their homes, semi-private class series in private homes or country clubs, and mobility workshops at fitness and country clubs.
"Mobility" often is erroneously perceived as a fancy synonym for stretching. (Click here for a great Men's Health article about mobility vs. flexibility.) The goal of mobility training is to increase overall movement efficiency and improve range of motion (ROM) in the joints of the body. This includes stretching AND strengthening, as well as soft-tissue work that creates micro-stretches in our connective tissues (fascia) awakening movement proprioceptors in the joints that communicate with the brain. Mobility helps us move efficiently. Mobility training improves athletes' performance, helping them hit the ball further/run faster/swing the racquet with more power, while reducing recovery time and lessening their risk of injury.
Mobility sessions with Gwen include:
Self-massage with therapy balls.
Deep core work that integrates the movements of the hips and shoulders with the torso.
Conscious breathing techniques that physically strengthening and mobilize the muscles of respiration, thereby improving breathing, physiological functioning and focus.
Reworking of dysfunctional movement patterns.
Corrective exercise that increases spinal mobility, stability and breath capacity.
Techniques from yoga, Pilates, physical therapy and other therapeutic movement modalities to mobilize and stabilize joints from head to toe.
Constructive rest. A huge component of wellness. The body heals and regenerates during rest, and the brain processes new information it has received, including new ways of moving one's body. This also is when the mind releases tension.
Mobility training can be part of a rehab process after an injury, and is a "prehab" self-care practice as a way to avoid injuries and pain. Each person has his/her own physical and mental habits, and each sport has its own physical and mental demands, and classes are designed and tailored for each individual or group. Gwen assesses individuals' movement patterns and has helped tennis players, golfers, runners, cyclists, cross fit devotees and race car drivers all live better in their bodies. She often works therapeutically with students in conjunction with treatment they are receiving from medical professionals for physical therapy, injury rehab or pain reasons.
Click HERE for yoga therapy inquiries.