Take a Breath begins...
Take a Breath for Schools and Communities began from an invitation from a high school counselor in the Fall of 2013. She was a regular attendee at our weekly relaxation class, and invited us into her school to work with the multitude of students and staff struggling with high levels of anxiety and stress. Through individual surveys we discovered the majority of students, staff and individuals within the community were feeling overwhelmed daily and found relief with our experiential presentations, or online content.
"I feel like I could see myself using this strategy when I'm feeling really stressed out, or even when I'm just sad." High School Student
Jeff Thomlinson HHC, ERYT-500, C-IAYT is an accredited professional yoga therapist and meditation teacher. He now leads Yoga Teacher Trainings, and works as a Yoga Therapist for Mindful Restoration, and his unique therapeutic offering; FreeBack. Jeff began teaching yoga and meditation in 1991.
Sonya Thomlinson (Uchita) HHC, ERYT-500, C-IAYT brings over 20 years of experience in meditation, breath practices, yoga therapy and education.
Sonya began teaching yoga and meditation in 1998. Sonya leads trainings, retreats, workshops and classes throughout Western Canada and the US.
What is Yoga Therapy?
Yoga therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of Yoga. Yoga therapy is a self-empowering process, where the care-seeker, with the help of the Yoga therapist, implements a personalized and evolving personalized practice, that not only addresses the illness in a multi-dimensional manner, but also aims to alleviate his/her suffering in a progressive, non-invasive and complementary manner. Depending upon the nature of the illness, Yoga therapy can not only be preventative or curative, but also serve a means to manage the illness, or facilitate healing in the person at all levels.
Yoga therapy can be helpful in the treatment of mental health conditions such as:
- Alcohol dependence
- Anxiety and panic disorders
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Eating disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Substance abuse, in addition, yoga therapy can be particularly effective for treating body-focused conditions, caused due to chronic pain, stress, or trauma that has been stored in the body and manifests through anxiety or depression-related symptoms.
Benefits of Yoga Therapy
These are some of the benefits of yoga therapy:
- Integrated mind-body focus: The exercises and postures of yoga therapy focus on the mind and body simultaneously, developing both mental and physical awareness. This helps with mind-body integration and improves mindfulness.
- Physical health benefits: In addition to helping with mental health conditions, yoga therapy can also improve physical fitness and increase strength, balance, and flexibility. It can also help with physical health conditions such as pain, blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis.
- Fewer side effects: Medication to treat mental health conditions can have side effects such as weight gain and other metabolic complications that can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. By contrast, yoga therapy has fewer side effects.1
- Alternative form of therapy: A major benefit of yoga therapy is that it appeals to those who might not be ready for traditional talk therapy or those who might find more meaningful results through the mind-body integrative focus, says Romanoff.
Yoga therapy does not have as much empirical evidence of its efficacy due to limited randomized control trials relative to more established forms of therapy. However, there is a growing body of research demonstrating that yoga therapy may offer benefits.
For instance, a 2021 study found that yoga can help treat conditions like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol dependence, and schizophrenia. (1)
A 2011 study found that yoga could be a complementary form of therapy for mental health illnesses, with fewer side effects than medication.(2)
1-Brinsley J, Schuch F, Lederman O, et al. Effects of yoga on depressive symptoms in people with mental disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2021;55(17):992-1000. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2019-101242
2-Cabral P, Meyer HB, Ames D. Effectiveness of yoga therapy as a complementary treatment for major psychiatric disorders: a meta-analysis. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2011;13(4):PCC.10r01068. doi:10.4088/PCC.10r01068