DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOGA & YOGA THERAPY

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOGA & YOGA THERAPY

Passionate, longterm practitioners of the spiritual Yoga tradition believe health and happiness is the birth-right of everyone, and inherent in us all. 

 But does that mean that all Yoga classes have the potential to heal? Or that every Yoga teacher can guide you to your physical, mental and emotional health, or spiritual and psychological wellbeing?  There is so much diversity of Yoga on offer now and thats a GREAT thing. But we’ve got to make public what a general Yoga class can’t do. Also a Yin class can be very good those of us who need more rest and quiet. An Ashtanga class can build our confidence and get our mood on high. Vinyasa, or Flow, allows us to feel alive. Restorative has the ability to calm our nervous system. Iyengar motivates our discerning focused and engaged self. Viniyoga can be very reflective and softening. Anusara is both activating and deeping. But all these traditions or styles have their limits, their drawbacks if we take them too seriously/religiously. 

They can even be a detriment to our health if we don’t include all aspects of our lives to decide what we practice day by day, according to those. The major difference is that Yoga therapy looks at all aspects of life that might contribute to an individual living a healthy life, or not. Whereas as most well intentioned Yoga teachers don’t know the full spectrum of habits that could potentially contribute to imbalance. Especially when we consider ourselves, not just as a body-mind, but an individual who lives, experiences and expresses on a physical, energetic, emotional, social, psychological and spiritual level every moment of every day.  

The Differences 

  • Yoga therapy is not a one size fits all, or one programme for all cases of similar disease. General yoga is.
  • Yoga therapy is based on the knowledge of inherent wholeness of each individual. Always remembering the tenacity, resilience and innate ability to heal as the underlying foundation of any living organism. Most general yoga teaching isn’t this broad or deep.
  • Yoga therapy is based on the relationship of therapist with client for any healing or therapy to occur. General yoga is based on movement, breath and maybe some meditation, if you’re lucky.
  • Yoga Therapy not only understands that Yoga affects the physical, psychosocial and spiritual realms of existence, having a wide variety of possible tools and practices, but also understands how we can empower each individual by adapting according to their specific needs, goals, ability and resources. General yoga doesn’t is able to deliver this personalised practice. 
  • Yoga therapists know their scope of practice. When we’re no longer able to serve, we refer on to another healthcare practitioner to ensure success of clients progress and integrity of profession. Yoga teachers generally don’t learn about a scope of practice in Yoga teacher trainings. 
  • Yoga therapy is based on the Yogic philosophy of Samkhya, Ayurveda and spiritual texts of the Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad-Gita, a broad understanding of modern science and command of mainstream medical language to be able to communicate skillfully with other healthcare providers. Mainstream yoga doesn’t.
  • Yoga therapy sees the individual as a body-energy-mind-soul being. It works on all these levels to create wellbeing. (Some traditions, such as Integral, Raja Yoga or individual teachers who are dedicated to study further, understand the diverse practices and their energeticpsychosocial effects for most these aspects of living). Most general yoga teacher trainings integrates a bare minimum of 25hrs, or completely ignores, the basis of this understanding the Yoga philosophy of mind and emotions.
  • Yoga therapy helps people move from suffering to ease, health and happiness, by understanding the underlying cause of imbalance. (For example, depression might be due to chronic unhealthy, physical habits; eating, social life and postural habits, which create visceral, emotional and mental imbalances, which can collectively lead to depression. Or it can be the inverse; chronic negative emotions and mental habits led to unhealthy social life, diet and posture, culminating in depression. Both require different practices, steps and gradual work, according the individuals present state, ability and progress). General yoga helps by generally balancing mood, energy and some mental states, by being present and connecting mind and body through breath.
  • Yoga therapy empowers the individual to health through educating them in better choices of daily habits; activities, work, posture, diet, relationships and mind states, for where they are at now. General Yoga generally doesn’t.
  • Yoga therapy gives practices personally tailored to an individuals’ needs, goals, ability, resources and age or life stage. A step by step structured programme sets them up for success. General yoga is just that, general. Generally beneficial. Generally improves embodied experience, contained consciousness and psychological perception.

Yoga as Therapy 

Awareness of body, energy, mind and emotions is crucial to empower each individual. This awareness shows how our choices create our life. Good and bad. It empowers through self-study, self-effort, self-education and self-regulation. Yoga therapy understands the primal power of purpose. Meaning in our life can carry us through the toughest times. Without it, we can suffer psychologically. A general yoga class can reveal our purpose over the years or when we’ve done plenty of personal development. But usually its more a physical-energetic sense of aliveness we experience, a sense of connection to self, Divine and other. Yoga works from the gross level to the very subtle. Subtle work allows our inherent intelligence to redirect energy and healing processes to hidden or unconscious areas through awareness. Understanding the Ayurvedic principles and Yoga philosophy, and applying them to the different aspects of living; physical, energetic, mental, social, psychological and spiritual, is the difference between yoga and Yoga therapy. Yogic philosophy sees stress as the major cause of all disease. Stress can be diminished, prevented and removed, when the programmes we create give back self-efficacy, self-confidence, sense of responsibility, and the innate birth-right to health and happiness. Without this underpinning, the same subtle energy practices and processes can wreak havoc, and cause dis-ease. Especially when we don’t know what the practices do in relation to physical, energetic, emotional, mental, social and psychological states. This is when a general yoga classes can be counter-intuitive.

Yoga therapy sees four stages of dis-ease

  1. The disease is of the psyche and mind, we feel, think and it creates emotional, mental and psychological discomfort and unease.
  2. If this continues it begins to affect the body, it becomes psychosomatic.
  3. If not addressed, it will move into the body affecting our physical tissues and physiological processes.
  4. If we still ignore this stage, it becomes a physical disease, the later stages of an illness.

Usually people seek professional help at these last two stages of manifesting dis-ease, especially in the west, where emotional/psychological unease is often ignored. Yoga therapy greatly helps in the first two stages where we can easily reverse it with meditative practices, that work on energetic, emotional and mental states. Yoga therapy greatly helps us deal better with stress and detach from mental agitation. Once it has moved into body in the third stage, Yoga Therapy is an adjunct, and in the last stage its only palliative.

Ultimately “yoga is a process of transformation. A system for shedding dysfunctional patterns and activating your untapped potentials. A tool for identifying your unique structural challenges and patterns”. –Gary Kraftsow.

When we understand the fundamentals of Yoga and Ayurveda and how to apply them, through decades of self-reflection and inquiry, awareness of emotional, psychological and social health, we begin the process of the alchemy of Yoga. We can only guide others as far as we ourselves have dared to travel. We learn how to transform the bodymind into conscious awareness embodied, through this voyage. All of life’s challenges are just stepping stones to becoming a fuller version of ourselves. And that practice is always a process of progression. We are never finished, never perfect. And nor should we strive toward perfection. Rather yoga can show us how to love ourselves and others in this process of becoming our fuller Self. A self love and compassion that embraces all of us. The Great, the Glorious and most of all, the Godforsaken.  

Namaste Dear One, leave a comment about your interpretation of Yoga as a therapy, a tool of transforming the challange into a cherised aspect of self discovery.

Much Love,

Shira.

HOW YOGA IMPROVES COMMUNICATION & RELATIONSHIPS

HOW YOGA IMPROVES COMMUNICATION & RELATIONSHIPS

So why do I keep going on about emotions, you might ask, and how can Yoga improve them? Emotions drive our impulses. They filter our perception, relation and reactions, in that order. If we don’t know which emotion prompts us, we react instead of respond. We risk communication and relation breakdowns. 

Communication is the basis for co-creation. And emotions the initiator of that expression.  

Ultimately Yoga is all about having deep, fulfilling and honest connections and relationships. Early on my Yoga road, reconnecting with my inner self, gave immense joy, courage and a sense of empowerment and contentment from the bliss we find within. Somewhere mid journey we uncover our deeper connection to Self, the divine. It inspires us to dive deeper. It dares us to climb higher peaks we never thought we could, and even fly a little, until we hit a very concrete part of our humanity.

As we mature on our Yoga journey we realise the knowledge, confidence and resilience we finally reclaim, are the essence of deep healthy relations, connection and living as complex social beings. The last few years my Yoga path is about realising how to be a better human being. Not a human doing. Nor a human not doing. But a human being who makes the effort, in order to manifest ease, not just for self but for others just the same. Sukha and Sthira. That’s the only Asana, seat, we need to create as the foundation of our expression, gift and work. It’s a fine balancing act. To be a being of compassion and yet proactive. That profound recognition of our responsibility and ability. To create the changes, we need to turn around in ourselves and the Earth. To be proactive and co-create, the first step we need is to learn to communicate.

Importance of Skilful Communication

The importance of power dynamics between teacher and student can’t be understated. Especially since the exposure of power abuse in many of the yoga communities. And communication is key to support healthy interpersonal relationships and create balanced and empowering power dynamics. 

Denial, disastrous communication, or lack of it, leads to frustration, fear, loneliness, anger, grief, emotional and mental imbalances, and even suicide. Just as healthy communication has the potential to free us. To empower us and to create long lasting, satisfying relationships. In two weeks, I begin another Yoga therapy training.

To get the most out of any education, good communication is essential. Even though I’ve made effort my whole adult life to improve my communication skills, I still find myself lacking in trying situations. An important part of Yoga Therapy training is learning skilful communication, observation and deep relation. All key to Yoga being therapeutic. 

Healthy interpersonal communication is vital to happiness, health and success. To transform outgrown patterns, it takes two to see, hear, speak, share and dare to work together toward change. Empowering the individual toward their own healing process. Only guiding them enough to take the steps of creating their own wellbeing. Yoga’s greatest strength lies in it’s potential to empower the individual. And how Yoga does this is through cultivation of self awareness, deeper levels of honesty, sensitivity and skill in action, toward the good, the bad and the ugly. So communication with self is key to healing, self and others, through deep listening and responding. 

Communication as a tool to empower

Communication is key for our relationship to self and others. It helps us recognise our and others needs, strengths, challenges and gifts. When we relate in these, we own our part in the play. This allows the other to own their part. We mutually empower. There’s no power battle when we listen, honour and find a win/win way for all involved. When we’re honest we deeply honour our values, feelings and thoughts. Doing so creates an empowered, autonomous and confident sense of self. 

We’re only as empowered as we are honest with who we are, what we stand for and what we feel in relation with to any given situation. And being emotionally intelligent, means we know what we feel, why and how to communicate that. Being honest and speaking our truth, we give others the chance to do the same. It naturally empowers them in the process. We honour others values, feeling and thoughts too. Because it’s a two-way street. It feels so great to feel honoured and empowered, we only wish the same for the other. Emotional intelligence opens up the pathway to this mutual feeling. Fulfilling relationships and skilful communication come from the baby step of honesty and ability to express it kindly.

Yamas and Skilful communication

The Yamas are the basis of all yoga. Communication rests on these pillars of the Yamas. Especially Ahimsa; kindness to self and others, Satya; honesty and Bramhacharya; keeping our energy within our sense of self, which is actually emotional intelligence. Our ability to communicate depends on our relationship with self; honesty and self-awareness of what we think, feel and belief, kindness and self-inquiry of the way we relate to self and others, keeping our Prana within our senses and how we respond or react to what we discover within and without. 

Without self knowledge and self awareness its difficult to communicate what we want, think and feel. And even harder to create a life that reflects these ideals.   Growing up with the themes of misunderstanding, loneliness, depression, blaming, shaming, are common. We see, live with, accept, and in our incredible ability to adapt, we find ways to even thrive and be happy amongst the confusion and changes of socia But for some these themes are too painful, especially if we lack the ability or urge to communicate. Sharing our emotive visions inspires us. 

Communication connects us, allows us torelate and feel heard, held and honoured. It grounds us when we’re understood. It frees us from the heavy burden of carrying feelings all alone. Sharing allows the intelligence behind the emotion; the impulse to create change to honour our sensibility to what’s good for us now, guides us to improve connection and bolsters healthy relationships. Underneath there is a calm love and wholeness that we all can access. 

Holding the space for emotions to flower, flourish, bloom and wilt, we can hold the space for others to communicate their feelings. Then what we envision can come to the foreground. Behind every emotion awaits a force so strong to create wholeness. Its our job to learn to hear the silent but powerful messengers. To decipher and shift gears. Then we can co-create together. Because alone we will never move mountains. Alone we can dream, together we can do it.And its so much more fun with others. 

Namaste and I’d love to hear how you share your truth and co-create,   

Much Love,

Shira.

WE, Women that live and breathe from their core values

WE, Women that live and breathe from their core values

Happy International Women’s Day!

Happy and Honourable Power, Love and Dignity to All Women everywhere!
What amazing creatures We are!!

Women celebrating their force for good, women are the future of a WE culture, rather than ME culture.

How often does this happen to You?

There is a heated discussion, emotions arise and words fly. We know what’s being said is unjust, or just complete nonsense, but you can’t quite put it into words. Or we know exactly what it is, but don’t dare speak our truth. Or we speak our truth, but we are ignored, disregarded or belittled.

Personal values and core beliefs are being trodden on. Everyone gets passionate about their point of view. But when we look honestly and see that the others vision, values and formulation of the subject, in anyway takes the power of perspective away from another, this is abuse. Yes very slight, very subtle. But still very real.

And these things don’t only happen between men and women, but also between women and women.

Any of these are a breech of power balance. An implication that the power is not equal for all to say their piece and play their part.

These daily dynamics overtime cut others down into tid bit tiny pieces, easy to manage, mould and manipulate.

It infleunces the way we relate, communicate and delegate. If there is any imbalance, this trickles down, seeps in and permeates all our thoughts, words and actions, and lastly our creations!

This conditioning can also be caused by women who do not see they themselves are conditioned, or refuse to see it. This is what we see when women attack, limit or try to belittle other women. Mother/daughter, friends, sisters or total strangers. No one is exempt when it’s uncoscious. ANd the trouble with the unconscious is that it’s UNCONSCIOUS! It’s only by talking about it, that we can open anothers eyes.

A ship that sets off without true direction, heads far from the desired destination.

We all have different core values and we all see those being honoured or downright disrespected according to our lens of understanding and experience.

Sure women in the west vote, drive, go to school, earn money and own their homes. But if you look deeper, men have many certain privilages, that women don’t.

Differences in women’s and men’s access to resources, status and well-being, which usually favour men and are often institutionalised through law, justice and social norms. Men earn more for each hour a woman works. Men ‘naturally’ get jobs in higher positions, they have more self confindence to ask for pay rises, extra holiday pay and bonuses. Add on to that domestic physical, psychological, sexual, verbal abuse or violence, and you discover there’s many layers to gender disparity.

This is all due to the above power dynamics which are ingrained in our psyches as infants. Boys are unconsciously taught that they can choose for themselves, go out there at get what they are after, whereas a girl will be more nurtured toward helping others and taking care of the family, house and guests.

This makes women more likely to choose not just for herself, but all included. She will sacrifice much more willingly.

In the book ‘A Path Appears’, by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof, you read again and again how most projects start by empowering women, through education. Most Non-Profit programmes and initiatives uplift communities in poverty by educate the women and girls, not the men and boys.

Men will more likely spend money on alcohol and sex. Whereas women will without a seconds hesitation choose the wellbeing of others, her family. She will invest in the longrun, working with others in her community, being an entrepreneur and empowering the lives of those who follow her example.

In high school I did a study of the demographics of all African countries. One thing that jumped out of that study was that in the countries where women had higher levels of literacy, health was improved, child mortality was lower, life expectancy higher and children literacy was up.

Every movement is about adressing an imbalance which has become so gross that it has degraded the human to animalistic behaviour and acts.

A women’s movement is about the inequality of two different forces, the male/female, active/receptive, expressive/experiential. It is about bringing back the balance that leads to a sustainable and harmonious life. One that chooses growth over gratification, longterm for Her family over shortterm, inclusivity instead of exclusivity, community of capitalism.

Sure we know there is a lot of injustice, imbalance and dishonesty in the world’s dire situations, disgusting abuse of power, and complete contempt for women in the world. And yes in other places we can’t compare. Sure we in most western countries feel priviliged, empowered enough to walk away when we don’t agree. Or not let it affect our lives.

But how often do we reflect on the power imbalances being played out in our own lives? How often do we take charge of this offcourse ship and steer the dynamics away from dispute, into guideposts for solutions?

What would the world be like, if I take a stand for what I believe in, not only in my heads, or in my family, but in the larger world?

We can, through our disputes and discussions, find a path that rectifies a power imbalance at hand, or in the home. Thereby empowering our selves, family, and transform and empower family dynamics. Transform our world.

It would be a WE place, rather than a ME place.

But how often do we actually take actions to really make changes, changes that impact not only our lives, but those of others by being more honest, open and curious to our level of conditioning?

If WE want to feel grounded in ourselves through understanding our human history, our roots, the good, bad and ugly, reading, understanding and soul searching, we can see how those dynamics were handed down and how we still, on some very subtle levels carry on these power abuses unwillingly, unintended.

It’s only when we dare to see how deeply woman, and man, is still to some extent conditioned to think women are powerless. Where, why and how this great imbalance, or bipolar culture has arisen from. And how we can find balanced and sustainable solutions.

We all have the expressive/receptive ability, and response-ability, to create a WE world!

Power to All Shero’s!

Jai to all those who speak their truth no matter what the consequences!