Please note that this is an Archived article and may contain content that is out of date. The use of she/her/hers pronouns in some articles is not intended to be exclusionary. Eating disorders can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.
Have you ever wondered yoga is like at Center for Change? Check out these questions and answers:
1. Why do we have our patients do yoga?
Yoga Asana has been proven to be a primary movement strategy which connects individuals to emotions held within the physical structure. For this reason, patients may feel emotionally engaged while doing yoga. This is not a reason for avoidance – this is a reason for participation. Often, yoga will help patients break through emotional barriers and will help other areas of therapy begin to flow. As well as the emotional benefits, yoga is specifically designed to benefit the movement, vitality, and function of internal organs. Breathing techniques in yoga help overcome shallow and restrictive breathing habits which often lead to dizziness and nausea when moving. Digestive health is especially improved through the practice of yoga.
2. Why do the instructors talk so much during yoga?
Many yoga classes outside of the Center have very minimal talking throughout the practice. These are usually mid-level to advanced yoga classes in “Power Yoga”, where the students are very familiar with the postures and the class format is the same every time. This is also very prevalent in “gym” yoga classes, where the instructor may not be familiar with the full practice of yoga – which includes physiology and philosophy to explain why we do what we do. Also, most classes outside of the Center are designated as “beginning”, “mid-level”, or “advanced”. Here, we have patients of all levels and ability, so explanation of the practice is offered throughout class. In the practice of “trauma sensitive yoga”, speaking throughout class is an important technique to keep students feeling grounded, give students reasons to be moderate in their movement, and to ensure that all students feel safe in the environment. This style of yoga is called “Kripalu” yoga.
3. Why don’t the instructors do hands-on adjustments in yoga?
In the practice of “trauma sensitive yoga”, it is important to be aware that hands-on adjustments may be detrimental to a patient’s feelings of well-being and may not be appropriate to the environment. Especially in a class setting with many students, hands-on adjustments are difficult to facilitate for the entire class and it may be difficult to determine who would benefit from hands-on adjustments and who would be adversely affected. For this reason, it is doubly important to be able to verbally articulate the entire practice, which requires extensive “talking” throughout class. This is the implementation of “Kripalu” yoga.
4. Do the instructors allow patients to modify when needed?
Yes! Because we have patients of all levels of ability in the same group, we offer a wide variety of modifications and alternatives for participation. If someone has a particular issue, I try to speak with them before group and give them some personal modifications to use during group. While I offer modifications and ask the care techs to help monitor the patients for appropriateness, many patients try to “keep up” with the most advanced patient. This, in turn, can lead to feelings of inadequacy and unwillingness to participate in the future. While I can’t get into their head and force them to let go of performance anxiety, I can offer an environment that encourages patients to listen to what is possible for them right now and let that be enough for today.