Helen is a Qualified Yoga Therapist, having successfully completed and passed a four year Therapy Course, held in South Indian city of Chennai (old Madras) at the Krishnamacharya Yoga and Healing Foundation (KHYF). The course involved four one month study modules over three years to be attended in Chennai at KHYF, a thesis, and 100 hours of Internship at the renowned Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandarim. Fortunately Helen has been able to study with an authentic Indian family lineage. This family is connected to the great Krishnamacharya, who is responsible for introducing women to yoga and bringing yoga to the western world, and most importantly the discovery of Yoga Therapy. His four main students in the last century were BKS Iyengar, Pattabi Jois, Indra Devi and his own son TKV Desikachar. Although these four people developed their own schools of yoga their core teaching stemmed from Krishnamacharyas teachings of Astanga Yoga, or 8 Limbed Yoga. Unfortunately, Krshnamacharya's four main students have all passed on now, however their teachings and knowledge remains strong.
What also emerged through Krishnamacharyas teachings was that yoga could be used as a Therapy. Yogic tools can be used in a therapeutic manner to assist people with illness and physical limitations.
Traditionally Yoga was taught on a one to one basis, group teaching is a more western way of teaching. When we work with someone on a one to one basis, the practice is tailored to suit their specific needs.
Yoga Therapy is about helping people to reach their full potential. That full potential being within the boundaries of their lifestyle, illness, where they live, work they do, their whole lifestyle is taken into consideration. Even within a chronic illness people can still reach their own full potential.
Yoga Therapy is an excellent recovery tool. There are many yogic tools, such as Asana (gentle movements),Pranayama(Breathwork), Pratyahara (Sense withdrawal/relaxation), Sabdha(sounding and chanting), Nyasa (Hand/finger placement) Bhavana (visualisation) Dhyana (meditation).
Even if someone is immobile, they can still do breathing exercises together with visualisation. Sounding and chanting is excellent for immobile people, or speech problems. Out of all the Yogic tools, chanting is believed to be the most powerful tool. It gives vibrational therapy internally, it helps to lengthen the breath, it is very calming for the mind as all other thoughts cease during chanting. Negativity can be turned into positive through chanting and other yogic tools.
Breathing is the core of any yoga practice, so if someone can breathe they can do yoga. In Yoga the breath is referred to as Prana (sankrit), prana has multiple meanings. Prana is all around us and inside us. You may have heard of Chi in Chinese teachings, prana is the same. In Yoga it is believed that where the mind goes in the body the prana will go to. So this is how visualisation can be used, someone may not be able to lift their arm, but if they close their eyes and inhale as they visualise in their minds eye that the arm is lifting with the breath, and lowering it with the exhale. The prana will go to the arm and shoulder and bring some life and energy to the area.
Yoga Therapy is a whole mind/body practice. There can be a lot of stress and anxiety surrounding any illness or disease, and yoga can be very helpful to assist with this stress. During yoga practice the mind is fully occupied with the breath, the movements or whatever practice is being done. During that time the breath begins to lengthen, the body begins to relax and this flows on to the mind, which also relaxes.
People experience calmness and peacefulness through yoga practice in addition to the physical benefits.
Yoga Therapy is also helpful for neurological disorders. The longer focused breathing getting more oxygen into the body, doing simple movements with opposite sides of the body is good for brain stimulation. Co-ordinating movements with the breath used the brain.
The key to success with any Yoga Practice however, is the participation of the student/care seeker. They have to be prepared to make a commitment to themselves and the Yoga Therapist that they will do a home practice. It is a two way relationship between Yoga Therapist and Care Seeker. Daily practice is ideal, but at least four times a week for at least 10 minutes should be the minimum. Once people feel the benefits of yoga it usually motivates them to continue.
Upon consultation the Yoga Therapist will establish how much time a care seeker can commit to their practice, 10 minutes being the minimum time frame. So the practice is totally tailored to suit their own situation. How much time can they spare, what sort of space to they have for their practice, what is the best time of day for their practice?
People often feel that finally they have found something that they can do to help themselves, so this in itself is empowering for the care seeker. They don’t need any special equipment and it can be done in the comfort of their own home.
The process of Yoga Therapy is to have an initial consultation where the Therapist will observe the care seeker physically and ask lots of questions to establish a profile on their situation. We also establish some goals they would like to reach.
After this the Yoga Therapist will prepare and appropriate practice for the Care Seeker. This will then be given to the Care Seeker within a few days on their second consultation. They will return in 10 days to two weeks after that for a third consult and their progress will be discussed and some changes may be made to their practice. This will continue from three to six months depending on the progress and results experienced by the Care Seeker. Some people may require longer than six months, each case is different
Some people will establish a life long yoga practice from this point. Particularly in the case of a chronic illness.
Helen is more than happy to take enquiries regarding Yoga Therapy on the phone or via email.
Wise sayings everywhere on walls in Indian streets.