Episode #39: While the practice of yoga in general aims to cultivate the body and mind and can exert therapeutic effects, Yoga Therapy offers personalized yoga practices to improve mental health and alleviate physical ailments. Yoga Therapy is making inroads into places like the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to help soldiers recover from physical and mental traumas. Many people think about yoga as a physical practice, but it’s not all about stretching or movement. Yoga Therapy can also help people who can’t move at all, as we will learn from our guest Melaney Seacat whose use of yoga therapy helped her recover from a near-death accident that left her unsure whether she’d walk again. Also with us is integrative mental health practitioner, meditation teacher, and certified yoga therapist Dr. Juko Holiday who will help us understand what Yoga Therapy is, how it works, and who could benefit from it.
Special thanks to Jeanne Baldzikowski for audio production, to Jennifer Young for research and outreach, and to Izzy Weisz for marketing. And thanks to acoustic guitarist Adrian Legg for composing, performing, and donating the use of our theme music.
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Learn More About Yoga Therapy
Yoga Therapy Health – This is a website for people looking to find a certified yoga therapist, read more about what yoga therapy is, and get details about how it can support people living with specific health conditions
Yoga Therapy Hour with Amy Wheeler – This podcast and website features interviews with thought leaders and experts in the field of yoga therapy, psychology and neuroscience. It provides information and resources for mind-body professionals and the general public interested in these topics. Also available on Apple and Audible podcasts.
Indu Arora, C-IAYT – Indu Arora is a certified yoga therapist, a frequent presenter at professional research and therapeutic conferences, and the author of Yoga: Ancient Heritage, Tomorrow’s Vision. This detailed book is an excellent resource, especially for Western practitioners who are most familiar with yoga as fitness, as it demonstrates how truly vast yoga is beyond postural practice, and offers insight into some of the tools yoga therapists use in their work.
More Yoga Resources
Trauma Informed Yoga and Mindfulness Series by Rebecca Roth in association with Survivors Healing Center – Six Tuesdays at 5:50pm Feb 8 to March 15, 2022 in Santa Cruz. Connect with yourself and others seeking to heal and restore balance and well-being using ancient wisdom that also is an evidence-based practice. Each class will include guided visualization/meditation, trauma-informed mindfulness education, breathing practices, gentle and restorative yoga, and an opportunity for self-inquiry and sharing with the group. No previous yoga experience necessary. This class may be helpful if you feel overwhelmed or exhausted, have difficulty making or maintaining boundaries, are a survivor of abuse or other trauma, feel objectified, are critical of self or others, or find it difficult to step into your power. This series will be a closed group after the first session. Suggested donation: $75 – $180 for the series (w/ option to make payments). A portion of the proceeds will go to the Survivors Healing Center.
Yoga For All Movement (YFAM) – Utilizes holistic wellness as a vehicle for social change by bringing trauma-informed yoga, with an emphasis on liberation through breath and movement, directly to underserved communities, such as youth, individuals in substance use recovery, and low-income seniors. Currently, YFAM is forming a first-ever, in-custody, yoga teacher-training program, Reunite with Wellness.
Central Nervous System Regulation
Ergos Institute, Inc. – Somatic Experiencing –This is the website of Dr. Peter Levine, founder of the Somatic Experiencing Technique for trauma healing. It offers free interviews, webinars, tools, books, exercises for nervous system regulation, videos and other resources for the general public. It also provides a link to a database of Somatic Experiencing Practitioners. It also provides information about programs and training resources for people wanting to advance their skills professionally.
Insight Meditation Society – This website provides information about Insight Meditation (a.k.a. mindfulness; loving kindness meditation), meditation retreats, guided meditations, a book club, and other meditation resources.
The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice by T. K. V. Desikachar (1999) – A text that outlines a step-by-step sequence for developing a complete practice adapted to the needs of the individual.
Pause, Rest, Be: Stillness Practices for Courage in Times of Change by Octavia Raheem (will come out Feb 1, 2022) – A book focused on restoring your body, mind, and spirit amid change is an act of courage, empowerment, and hope. This is a guide to help you honor the changes and spaces in your life with purposeful rest and reflection.
Gather by Octavia Raheem (2020) – A collection of soulful sayings, poetry, and flashes of insight sewn together into a sacred garment. Each thread was collected with reverence and care. The words here will weave their way into your heart and become a soft cover for you to land on.
Restorative Yoga for Ethnic and Race-Based Stress and Trauma by Gail Parker, Justine Ross, et al. (2020) – Presenting ways in which Restorative Yoga can contribute to healing emotional wounds, this book invites yoga teachers, therapists and practitioners to consider the psychological impact of ethnic and race-based stress and trauma. It aids in the process of uncovering, examining, and healing one’s own emotional wounds and offers insight into avoiding wounding or re-wounding others.
Transforming Ethnic and Race-based Traumatic Stress With Yoga by Gail Parker Ph.D. and illustrator Justine Ross (2021) – A workbook building on the foundations of Restorative Yoga for Ethnic and Race-Based Stress and Trauma which offers a range of self-care practices that strengthen the psychological immune system, increase resilience, and support post-traumatic growth
My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem (2017). In this book, therapist Resmaa Menakem examines the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology.
The International Association of Yoga Therapists – Founded in 1989, IAYT is a professional membership organization that works to advance yoga therapy education, training, and research, the professional development of its members, and to establish yoga as a recognized and respected therapy. The site provides information about certification requirements, accredited training programs, and offers a portal to therapeutic yoga publications.
Octavia Raheem – Teacher, mentor & thought leader who has received national attention for her work training yoga teachers and diversifying the yoga and wellness industry. Trained and mentored by exemplary teachers, Dr. Gail Parker, Tracee Stanley, Chanti Tacoronte- Perez, Octavia’s work as a yoga professional focuses on practical tools to teach individuals how to manage stress, anxiety, and fatigue through restorative yoga, yoga nidra, and meditation in a way that is accessible to all levels/abilities, and restorative to the nervous system.
Laurie Hyland Robertson – Laurie’s work includes excellent resources for professionals and therapeutic yoga practitioners: Understanding Yoga Therapy: Applied Philosophy and Science for Health and Well-Being, The Foundations, Tools, and Practice of Yoga Therapy: A Comprehensive Textbook, and Yoga Therapy Today. The first two resources are books that cover the theory and practice of therapeutic yoga, the last is a magazine of clinical practices that is published three times a year.
Yoga Therapy Foundations, Tools, and Practice by editors Diane Finlayson & Laurie Hyland Robertson (2021) – This textbook provides essential support to schools and universities that offer yoga therapy training programs, this comprehensive, edited textbook develops robust curricula, enabling them to prepare yoga therapists to integrate into healthcare settings safely and effectively.
The International Journal of Yoga Therapy – IJYT is an annual peer-reviewed publication that serves yoga therapists, yoga teachers, yoga practitioners, yoga researchers, and healthcare professionals.
Black Yoga Teachers Alliance – a collective of yoga teachers who share the peace and power of yoga to inspire conscious living. Organization works to elevate the presence and voices of Black yoga teachers while providing a business and social network with black yoga teachers throughout the U.S. and abroad. It also serves as a catalyst to connect black yoga teachers with opportunities to train, teach and travel and works to Increase the diversity of those who teach and practice yoga.
Melaney Seacat Yoga Therapy – Self-Empowered Healing for Body, Breath and Mind. Offering Personalized practices using holistic yogic tools for healing and personal transformation.
Melaney Seacat, MA, C-IAYT, SEP