When I studied naturopathy back at the turn of the century (aka 1998 – 2001) yoga was an elective subject. Over the years of seeing clients I’ve recommended mindful movement in the form of yoga or other disciplines such as tai chi depending on the person’s interests so many times I’ve lost count. I undertook yoga teacher training in 2004- 2005 and that allowed me to offer regular classes and eventually to shift much of my clinical practice to yoga therapy. Now I’m seeing many successful natural therapists incorporating yoga, meditation and mindfulness in various forms into their work and it makes my heart sing.
Personally yoga is my mind body therapy of choice. It helps keep me active when modern life can be so sedentary. Daily yoga balances my musculoskeletal system and movement patterns when I spend too many hours on my laptop and phone. I witness the subtle shifts my hormonal cycles provide and yoga carries me steadily through those ups and downs of energy, flexibility and emotion. More than anything yoga offers me space for reflection and brings a calm clarity to my thinking. It’s the ideal antidote to stress and all the health issues excessive sympathetic nervous system activation brings with it.
For my clients I can see that simply suggesting they find ways to manage stress is not enough. Naturopaths do beautiful work prescribing herbs and crafting personalised nutritional support protocols, yet we know that these are too often bandaids that allow clients to continue pushing themselves. While supportive herbs can help the systems of the body cope better with stressors, many clients will find themselves tempted to use natural medicine like a drug. They can slip into a similar pattern to the way they may have used (or be using concurrently) alcohol and caffeine, with relaxants (chamomile, magnesium)in the evenings to help them chill, and stimulants in the morning (B vitamins, panax ginseng, green tea) to help them achieve. While herbal support is undoubtedly preferable to intoxicants, the recipe for burnout doesn’t change too much, it might just be held off. Our challenge is to invite clients to make sustainable changes to their lifestyles that include relaxation and self care. Yoga fits the bill.
Natural medicine practitioners are great coaches, they seek to use motivational strategies to empower clients towards lifestyle shifts. Along with supporting your clients to set healthy goals for exercise, whole food nutrition and mindful stress management, it makes sense to actually offer them the tools to do so. Along with herbs, nutritional supplements, eating plans, recipes and general lifestyle advice, naturopaths are perfectly placed to also teach simple relaxation techniques, and invite clients to join regular yoga classes.
In my practice, weekly yoga classes have provided a steady stream of new clients with an interest in taking care of their health and wellness. Some of those clients like to attend workshops, seminars and day retreats, while others book in for individualised yoga therapy, naturopathy and counselling, all provided in the same beautiful space they have become familiar with through attending yoga.
Natural medicine, nutrition, yoga therapy, counselling and integrative oncology clients appreciate and enjoy their consultations and we often discuss their regular self care strategies including yoga and meditation. In most cases they are paying out of pocket for their one on one consultations and out of respect for them, and as part of an empowerment approach to health care, I aim to make myself redundant as soon as practical. As my clients find their way towards wellness, they can space out their consultations from fortnightly to monthly to six monthly and eventually not see me as a private therapist any longer (or until they feel the need to check in). The therapeutic relationship doesn’t have to end entirely though, as many choose to attend regular small group yoga classes each week. This is far more affordable for them, and allows me to maintain the relationship and enjoy seeing them in wellness.
If you’re a natural therapist who loves yoga, why not add the skills of instructing yoga including relaxation, meditation and mindfulness to your practice. It is wonderful for your own life balance, and allows you to work in a way where you move as well as sit. It opens up vast possibilities for your clients to enjoy your wellness wisdom in groups and individually, in clinics, studios and in beautiful retreat locations too.
Why not join me at the incredible Komune resort in Keramas, on Bali’s east coast for a yoga teacher training intensive like no other. August 5 – 13, 2017 will see us doing daily yoga practice, eating delicious, mostly organic, vegan/vegetarian breakfast in the Health Hub, then workshopping the skills of yoga teaching including the art of adjusting, sequencing, yogic physiology, anatomy of asana and pranayama, and in the evenings philosophy and meditation sessions. Read more at http://www.yogaspace.com.au/teacher-training/intensive-training-asia/about the opportunity that awaits you to take your natural medicine and yoga practice to the next level in 2017, led by experienced senior yoga teacher, certified international yoga therapist and naturopath, Chandrika Gibson 🙂