Often, when I start to answer the question, “What is yoga therapy?” I begin with what it’s not. And even more specifically, what it’s not just.
It is not just a series of yoga postures.
It is not just stretching.
It is not just strengthening.
I refer to these as the two S’s – Stretching and Strengthening – and I don’t have anything against them. A little of each can do a body good. But we’re doing ourselves a disservice if we stop there.
Raise your hand if there is a muscle or two in your body that remains tight no matter how much you stretch it. (See: my calves and quads). Do the same old overuse injuries continue to sneak up on you, despite adding a strength program to your routine?
Enter the two R’s – Rest and Reprogram. The first step is to bring awareness to the way you move and live within your body. What overachieving muscles are trying to do everyone else’s job? What muscles are sleeping on the job?
My super athletic calves and quads, for example, are happy to do all the work of running. Until, that is, they become overwhelmed and really not happy. Meanwhile, my glutes like to kick back and enjoy the ride. (Figuratively, I mean. I’m working on getting my glutes to do more of the literal kicking back.)
So my practice includes resting my calves/quads and reprograming my brain to recruit my glutes. To be clear, by “rest” I don’t mean take a nap or a day off from running (though sometimes that’s helpful too). I mean allow them to rest when moving my body in a way that doesn’t require their participation. Sounds easy enough, right?
Sometimes, yeah. Other times, not so much. Many of my clients go through a period of frustration when they first uncover a creative movement pattern and attempt to change it. This is a normal part of the process.
And I GET IT. I’ve been there with my own body. But this is also the part that I get really excited about. Because I know that when we reprogram the brain to move the body in better and more efficient ways, pain can go down. Athletic capability can go up. This is where the real change happens.
Maybe your hamstrings are chronically tight because they’re doing all the work of stabilizing your pelvis and what they need more than stretching is to rest.
Maybe those clamshells aren’t helping with your IT band syndrome because you’re using your hip flexors instead of your medial glutes. In fact, maybe your glutes are already perfectly strong. Maybe what needs strengthening is the connection between your brain and your hip abductors.
I help my yoga therapy clients bring awareness to the way they’re moving and living within their bodies in order to get to the root of pain. Yes, sometimes there’s stretching. Sometimes there’s strengthening. But it’s also so much more.
Curious about what yoga therapy could add to your life? Schedule a free 20 minute consultation with me over Zoom. It’s just a chat. We’ll talk about what you’re looking for, what I offer and whether it’s the right fit.
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