Next week I’ll be teaching in the Byron Yoga Therapy Course which I’ve had the honour of doing for the last four years.
What is yoga therapy? In one sense it’s a contradiction in terms because the basis of Patanjali’s meditation yoga is that an individual is whole and complete and doesn’t needing ‘fixing’. However, as we know, as far as our physical being, we are not necessarily healthy and whole at all times; we are subject to postural misalignments, diseases, medical conditions and more.
Yoga and its sister science, Ayurveda, have much to offer us in the way of tools to help improve our well-being. The idea of yoga therapy is meant to help the whole individual rather than focusing on a specific condition, and some of the healing tools employed include asanas (postures), pranayama (breath work), relaxation, meditation, dietary advice, and lifestyle counselling.
My idea of teaching this group of 15-20 trainee therapists is to have them focus on self-care first of all. Yoga teachers are notorious for looking after others first and themselves last – if at all. How do I know this? From having experienced a few bouts of ‘yoga teacher burn-out’ myself.
One way to avoid burn-out is to maintain a balanced and regular yoga practice. Our practice can be like a mirror because it helps us know something about ourselves on any particular day.
But if you tend to be pushy in your yoga practice, then no matter how consistent you are, it will have a deleterious effect on your body/mind. For my part, I know the state of my health by how I am in relationship to those close to me. My particular weakness shows up when I get to a state of exhaustion and then am short-tempered with my husband.
I’ve learned late in life that the reflective practices like relaxation, pranayama and meditation set the tone for a balanced approach to life, not necessarily because they will make me a balanced person. But because they develop the awareness so I can see when I’m out of balance. And importantly, treat myself with loving kindness.
Self-care is really predicated on awareness. Here’s a link to a special voice recording that can help you nurture yourself in savasana.