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Yoga Therapy: The Gift of Healing

November 30 2017
November 30 2017

When I first decided to enter the Yoga Therapy program at Yoga Yoga, I actually didn’t even know what Yoga Therapy was.  All I knew was that I wanted to help people in a different way, deepen my practice, understanding and skill. I also knew that after 20 years of teaching, two 500hr specialized Teacher Trainings and a successful public class offering I was ready to take the next step Professionally.

Whatever you think Yoga Therapy is, it isn’t. In a funny way, that’s the magic of yoga. There are elements that are body and structure centric, which are useful and deeply rewarding tools. There are elements that are Spirit eccentric, expansive and mind-bindingly transformative; and elements that are, somehow, even beyond or between the two.

During my time in the Yoga Therapy program, I learned techniques and tools to address whiplash and hypertension, the ayurvedic lens of grief, what happens at the source of anxiety, toxicity, medication(s), meditations and breath. Times would arise when a sense of being a-swirl with protocols and tools, specifics and non-specifics alike, philosophy, malady and ways to view our clients and this world; and I thought they might come falling to the ground in pieces and take me right along with them.

But there was something that my husband said to me on one of those middle months of that sacred journey. That there’s a Self-Mastery piece that the school process starts to hone, and that it is exactly this process that builds the capacity to hold for others.

In that moment, I started to learn that what we were actually being taught was not so much about the pieces, but about the inherent wholeness within the system. You see, with all the iterations and variations that Yoga Therapy has the capacity to be, the one inherent thing it all has in common is the belief and clear understanding that the experience of being human is a whole experience.  That as a yoga therapist we are set to the task of facilitating the balance that awakens this sense at the very core of well-being.

This year I had the honor of attending the Yoga Therapy conference in California. Surrounded by professionals, thought leaders, healers and down-right authentic yogis, I was awash in the richness of this developing field. One early morning, I sat in the great hall and listened as Aadil Palkhivala spoke of the role of a Yoga Therapist. So beautifully he reminded us that we, in all our earnestness, are simply there to create the environment for healing to occur. That the wholeness and capacity for healing already exists within the client, and we have the privilege and insight to resource the tools and techniques to support that environment. What a gift!

I believe in the beginning of any professional training, there is a time when we cling to the form of way and how to source what is essentially the becoming of a new identity.  In the Yoga Therapy training we were given tools, education, as well as the ability to differentiate and think critically about why we were choosing a line a treatment. But what we were also given is the opportunity to arrive as a new, informed, facilitator for the paradigm of well-ness where the lens is wholeness and the guide is yoga.

At least, that’s how it was for me. :)

Shanti Kelley, MA-SP, E-RYT500, C-IAYT, L-2 iRest Practitioner

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