Applied Yoga as a Therapeutic Tool to Heal
Yoga Anatomy & Physiology Teacher Training by Zephyr Wildman
Yoga refines our movement and breath. In its therapeutic applications, asana and pranayama become the tools by which we address patterns of movement, breath and being that are at the root of chronic pain, limitation and even disease. Because of the way we’re built, and the lives we live we all face challenges individual in our life and practice, often with chronic pain. Our own structure and patterns of movement often lead us directly into these problems, unless we recognize and change them. Even when we exercise regularly or have a regular practice, we allow some muscles to dominate, leaving others weak and unused. This can eventually lead to pain and injury, even for the experienced practitioner.
Each morning will involve an exploration of the structural alignment, anatomy, muscles and function of the area that is the days’ focus plus time to review the prior days learning. In the afternoon we will apply the morning’s tuition through practice, utilising yoga asana, pranayama, kriyas and basic massage techniques.
The way we physically carry ourselves, our posture, our gait and our physical alignment sends a message to the world conveying our mood, attitude and our perspective of how we experience our quality of living. Those that are trained to recognise how the body is moving and what kind of (mis)alignment one possesses and how to correct it, can be incredible healers for those that suffer with pain. Using Yoga as therapy and addressing the underlying causes of habitual misaligned postures, the management of chronic pain and reeducating our bodies for greater well-being is one of the focuses of our upcoming workshop: Applied Yoga as a Therapeutic Tool to Heal.
In this workshop we will focus on our Flexion Addiction. An example of flexion addiction is illustrated by our modern human tendency to sit too much and for too long which causes movement syndromes leading to chronic back pain. This ‘flexion addiction’ creates a state where our body experiences amnesia and forgets how to contract or release, creating conditions for greater imbalance. The main objective for this workshop is to inform students on how to create pain-free movement by restoring postural balance. We will learn how to preform postural assessment and use yoga-asana and simple movement based techniques to therapeutically address the imbalances. Using the information gathered from the workshop we can start recovering from this amnesia, re-connecting and support this ongoing process of healing.
Day 1: Foundations and Introduction to the 5 Koshas
A.M.: Students will be introduced to the concept of the “Middle Path” through a lecture on the philosophical and practical approach to working therapeutically with people’s injuries, ailments, mental health, chronic pain and addiction. Using the modality of the Koshas, we will dissect each sheath individually with applied philosophy to treat an individual or class effectively. The emphasis for Day 1 will be on creating the foundations to be referenced throughout the 5 days and include an overview of;
- common structural problems
- patterns of movement
- Ayurvedic imbalances
- Pranic problems in the body and mind
P.M.: The afternoon will continue with a customised sequences inspired by the Koshas to start to gain tools to treat common imbalances and pain.
Day 2: Postural Integrity and the Spine
A.M.: With a thorough comprehension of the Koshas and a holistic approach, we will now begin to look at specific alignment issues and causes of pain with a focus on the spine and postural integrity. Evaluation of posture will be our focus for the morning, however it takes more than just “good” posture to maintain “good” health and balance. We will explore methods of assessing problems with movement, the three diaphragms and we will also discuss the myofacial planes. We will assess techniques for dealing with Flexion and Extension Syndrome, while putting a special focus on understanding the focal points of weakness and stability and how they are affected by our lifestyle and genetic predisposition.
P.M.: After a morning of theory and observation, we will put into practice some application techniques that have been effective in reducing chronic pain and common conditions of the spine and posture.
Day 3: Feet, Knees and Hips.
A.M.: Working from the ground up, we will learn to see the body in action and how the interconnected lines of intelligence inform our patterns of movement and pain. Literally the foundations of our bodies health and balance, we will evaluate the alignment of the feet and legs and discuss how to assess alignment highlighting common problems, misalignments and causes of pain.
P.M.: The metaphor for the Middle Path as our centre of balance is well illustrated in the application of techniques for this afternoon’s session. By looking at the feet, knees and hips as the foundation for the spine and the connections the spine has to the rest of the body, we understand that this foundation is critical to supporting that well being and balance for the entire body.
Day 4: Pelvic Girdle
A.M.: We will discuss and develop techniques for assessing problem areas and imbalance within the uniqueness of every pelvis. A keen attention to detail will aid the student to look at the alignment and observe and identify misalignment. We will discuss common problems and causes of pain, and most importantly how the pelvic girdle influences structural alignment for the rest of the body.
P.M.: Hands on practice of applying the mornings lecture and developing techniques that build alignment, flexibility and stability of the pelvis to alleviate misalignments and pain due to every day lifestyle problems.
Day 5: Shoulder Girdle
A.M.: We will observe how improving range of motion can ease chronic pain in areas around the shoulder, neck and head, especially when the individual has experienced injury in these areas. We will pay close attention to evaluating posture and what it tells us about the state of the shoulder girdle. Observing the alignment and correctly ascertaining the causes of imbalance are crucial to this area as its range of motion and susceptibility to injury make it one of the more complex areas of focus.
P.M.: Applying yoga asana and basic massage techniques that help to extend the range of motion with a specific injury related approach (e.g.,frozen shoulder, rotator cuff injury) will be unique to this afternoon’s application.
Who can join the training?
Meet your teacher: Zephyr B. Wildman
(Senior Yoga Teacher & Massage Therapist, Lululemon Ambassador)
My personal path back to yoga
When I was 20 years old I started having spasms in my lower legs and feet which would last up to eight hours. The triggers were frustratingly, very inconsistent. When I was finally diagnosed with a Talocalcaneal coalition and an inverted heel in both ankles (this is where the ankle bone and the heel bone melts together, damaging the joint movement, nerves and soft tissues) I was on crutches most of the time, being carried to the toilet and on heavy pain killers. My orthopaedic surgeon said I had 80 year old feet and that he could separate the joint, however he could not guarantee I would be free from pain. Upon hearing this news I sat at home defeated, thinking I would never be able to walk, run, carry children or ever be free from the chronic pain. I surrendered, as there was nothing else I could do to force the traditional medical community to fix me and in that exact moment a voice in my head said, “go back to yoga”.
I did yoga with my mum and her friends as a young girl, however, as a teen I rebelled as it was so boring. My time was better spent running in the foot hills of the Rocky Mountains, cycling, rock climbing and hanging out with friends being moody teens. After my rebellious stage I had not thought of yoga until I moved to the UK and became stricken with the chronic pain. When that little voice spoke to me I was aware of a few classes around the corner from where I worked in London. For the first six weeks I would go to three different teachers who’s approaches to yoga were all very different. I would sit there, listen and do the best I could to move and I would cry. I cried for two reasons: the first reason was that the pain was so intense to try and manage I thought that I couldn’t take it. The second reason was the vulnerability I felt in attending a group and showing that I wasn’t managing my body anymore. This realisation unlocked desperation, shame and an emotional mess within me. This was hard for the person I saw in myself, because she was strong, capable and independent. To need and accept help was the hardest thing to allow. Not only was I dealing with my current physical state, I also unleashed this part that was holding onto previous experienced trauma, fears of facing a lifetime of physical disability and the constant reminders of what I had lost…
I found that I was emotionally and physically melting from my foundation. About the same time of attending regular yoga classes, I saw a therapist that specialised in co-dependency family issues, and started attending regular Alanon meetings. I look back on it and see that the historical, emotional and physical healing all needed to happen together. I was able to start to see how my body walked, sat, and interacted with my life. Linking my physical chronic pain and my psychological pain together.
After some time, I remember a point in my yoga practice that I would be pain-free for a few hours. This grew to a day, two days, a week and now, I am with out pain everyday. During my first four years of practice, it unfolded a lot of other issues that my misalignment caused: sensory motor amnesia in muscles, acquired scoliosis, chronic headaches-migraines, a bulging L4 and L5 disk that caused femoral nerve misfiring; this meant that my leg would give out and stop working (falling over in the street as graceful as possible became a necessary skill of mine). I focused my time in rebuilding my body, determined to use my love for human anatomy and physiology to reeducate myself. I could see there was a line or ‘sutra’ that ran up my body linking all of it together in this matrix of emotional, mental and physical holding, that everything is connected, that nothing acts alone. My posture that protected me, however, over time was causing me further harm. I would attend every workshop, and consult every yoga teacher who knew anything about structural alignment. I was consumed with reading about the subject and filling my brain with solutions rather than focus on the problem. I give most of my credit of holistically healing to two teachers: Doug Keller and Rod Stryker, who have passed on to me the living traditions of yoga and therapeutically healing ourselves mentally, emotionally and physically.
Although I still have the coalition, I now know how to manage it. I have to keep my body strong as I have loose ligaments holding certain joints together and I have to release other parts of my body that work to stabilise my instabilities. I am conscious of my good and bad patterns. Though sometimes I may fall off my path and pain reoccurs, yoga gives me the skill and knowhow to take action to get back on my path for this continual healing and rediscovering myself at any given time.
The hard part these days is I see my ageing body with all my limitations and I look at the gymnastic yoga out there that seems to be capturing all of the attention and I wonder what is this movement really about? I catch myself comparing my practice to others and even yearning to do extreme yoga poses, which only leaves me with the residue of frustration and a lack of self-acceptance. But when I come back to my senses and recognise myself having a deeper relationship with my body over the past 18 years, with this maturity, I have accepted that I had to let go of certain yoga poses as they are not helpful to my condition and leave me in a lot of pain. I practice my yoga to create balance, to reconnect, embody and ultimately to prepare my body for my meditation practice. I want to feel good rather than look good. As hard as I am finding it, watching the popular world of yoga follow a path I seem to be diverging from, I have learned that along with Doug and Rod, I have to place my body, my will and my heart amongst my greatest teachers. I put my full trust into them. I know that the lessons I have learned from them will continue to serve me on this path and by passing on these lessons to others, will serve my community.
Location and accommodation:
Training will take place at THE STUDIO, CORNICHE.
5 day training: 9am to 6pm with a 1 hour lunch break
For people living outside Abu Dhabi city, we will be happy to assist you with great hotel rates located 5 minutes away from the studio.
Note that we have limited seats available for this training.
Early Bird rates: AED 5,100. expires on July 1st 2018
Rate: AED 5,600
*Rate includes your comprehensive manual and certificate of completion
You will receive:
- 40 hours Therapeutic Yoga training credited by the YOGA ALLIANCE
- 10% Discounted at Third Place Cafe located next door
- 10% Discount on yoga classes DURING your training days
- 5% discount on your next training with us
- 10% if you book a retreat with us the same year
Therapeutic Yoga teach Training Alliance Accreditation:
This course is a Registered Yoga School (RYS) with Yoga Alliance. This training has a firm and robust basis in science, as it was written in part by Osteopaths, Doctors, Psychologists and also includes data taken from the Police and Health services as well as PhD work. The yoga element of the course is deeply researched in india and forms a robust and deep understanding, leaving you with a comprehensive outlook on the relationship between yoga and teens in today’s society from someone who has exclusively worked with teens for over 30 years. The time spent in study will furnish the student with more confidence and inspiration than other course. If you haven’t completed your 200 hours training, you will still be able to add 60 hours if you wish to complete it on a later stage.
Thank you so much for the wonderful yoga practice, you are so generous and knowledgeable. I learned a lot and have been inspired to continue my journey with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. Sarah Williams, UK
I can’t begin to thank you enough for sharing your teaching with us over the course of the 5 days- I am in the middle of writing a lesson plan about ‘stabilising the hips’ so the things I learnt on the course are proving invaluable! But as well as that, the care and understanding you and the class showed to both of us on that final day- it will never be forgotten what a safe place of sanctuary and calm that yoga studio felt that morning.
I will definitely be back to London again soon and hope to make one of your classes at some point. But in the meantime, keep sharing your unique experiences and your beautiful soul- they inspire others and give them strength to start discover ‘the middle path’ for themselves. All my love.Rachel Birkby, UK
The 5 day intensive ran very smoothly and it was a great group. Zephyr was fantastic and her passion for yoga and healing was contagious and inspiring. Zephyr delivered her huge wealth of knowledge in such a passionate generous way. The group all seemed very happy and inspired. Jessica Paine, UK
I want to thank you so much for being such an inspiring and empowering teacher. I really love what you do, who you are and how you have such thorough knowledge and infinite wisdom. Gabriella Hales, UKZephyr is a master teacher but the classes involved so much more than just moving through postures . I have come away with a depth of knowledge for my future yoga practice. A deeper practice of mind and body, a wider perspective of what yoga can give us. It was a very enriching experience. Nicky Carter, UK
Super pleased at the training – absorbing a lot. Lamya Arsiwala, India
I have just had the pleasure of spending two days with Zephyr Wildman on the Anatomy Centred Approach to Alignment course and loved every second of it. The content was thorough, informative and relatable, to myself and to my students. Zephyr is a delight as a teacher – she is extremely knowledgeable, patient and generally lovely. I look forward to attending her workshops/courses in the future. Clara Hopper, UK
Thank you so much for the wonderful workshop today and staying up last night to make the handouts. I do really appreciate having it all on paper. You really are an amazing inspiration.To see that it is possible to go through all this darkness and coming out of it as strong as you is so very inspiring. You truly are a force of nature. A very, very positive and good one. Giving so much hope. Cordula Neckerman, UK
After struggling for so long with chronic pain, I finally can understand the cause and work on my rehabilitation. In terms of proprioception, I have always had difficulty feeling what my body was doing, this almost week long interaction has helped me visualize and feel myself more in my own body. Dima Timani, Lebanon