From ancient to modern times, liberation from suffering has been a primary leitmotif in yoga. Across the span of 3,000 years, innovative seers, sadhus and simple teachers have developed a vast array of asana, pranayama and meditation practices for cultivating a more balanced, integrated and joyful life. In yoga therapy (yoga chikitsa), we adapt these and other healing practices to unique individuals to help heal what most ails our bodyminds. In this adaptation, we can usefully integrate the traditional insights of yoga and ayurveda with contemporary insights of medicine and the alternative healing arts, thereby guiding our yoga students and yoga therapy clients in ways that help to make their lives the best they can be.
In this workshop, we will first survey the theories and practices of healing found across the histories of yoga, ayurveda and scientific medicine, distilling methods and techniques with proven efficacy. We will then apply these techniques to:
- Musculo-Skeletal Ailments (including plantar fasciitis, collapsed arches, sprained ankles, Achilles injuries, knee injuries, hip problems, ISJ dysfunction, piriformis syndrome, generalized low back pain, lordosis, kyphosis, scoliosis, brachial plexus nerve entrapment, shoulder impingement syndrome, rotator cuff pathologies, elbow tendinopathy, carpal tunnel syndrome); and,
- Emotional/Behavioral Difficulties (including generalized anxiety, chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and addictions).
This workshop is open to everyone interested in learning about the healing powers and practices of yoga therapy. Qualifies for 26 hours of Yoga Alliance Continuing Education for RYT 200 and RYT 500 teachers.
Described by Yoga Journal as "the teacher's teacher," Mark Stephens, a Certified Yoga Therapist and member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, is the author of Yoga Therapy: Foundations, Methods and Practices for Common Ailments (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2017; 688 pages, 427 illustrations, over 500 bibliographic references). His earlier books, Teaching Yoga (2010), Yoga Sequencing (2012), and Yoga Adjustments (2014), are international bestsellers now in nine languages. He also writes the “For Teachers” column for Yoga Journal Deutschland. Practicing yoga for over 25 years and teaching for over 20 years, Mark has trained over 2,500 yoga teachers worldwide. He founded Yoga Inside Foundation in 1997, establishing therapeutic yoga programs in over 300 schools, treatment centers and prisons across North America, receiving Yoga Journal's 1st Annual Karma Award in 2000 for this work. With a deep background in multiple yoga philosophies and methods and extensive study of human anatomy, biomechanics, and physiology, Mark brings an integrated perspective to yoga practice and yoga therapy that makes yoga a more efficacious tool for healthy living. He lives in Santa Cruz, California and teaches globally. Learn more at http://www.markstephensyoga.com/.
Thursday, December 7, 2017
From 9 am to 12 pm: Yoga Therapy – Origins, Theory, and Methods
Ancient yogic, ayurvedic and western texts offer unique and original insights into optimal human functioning, yet their ideas are quite different and often contradictory. This lecture and discussion provides a brief survey of the historical traditions, highlights modern developments that expand our understanding of the human bodymind, suggests ways of integrating divergent approaches, and presents basic methods of assessment and communication at the heart of yoga therapy.
From 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm: Yoga Therapy – Healing the Foundations and Mechanisms of Movement
Our mobility in the world rests upon the strong, resilient, yet vulnerable tissues of our feet, ankles, knees and hips, all if which are commonly injured. In this session, we will first consider the nature of each of several conditions – plantar fasciitis, collapsed arches, sprained ankles, Achilles injuries, knee injuries (ACL/MCL), hip problems (bursitis, replacement), and iliotibial band syndrome – and then explore how to modify asanas to allow a sustained yoga practice and to help heal each condition.
Friday, December 8, 2017
From 9 am to 12 pm: Master Class – Keeping the Spine in Mind
The spine is at the center of yoga. In the traditional yogic literature, we find it as the sushumna channel, carrying life-force pranic energy up through the subtle body. Its relative stability, mobility, and overall functioning (and dysfunction) are among the primary sources motivating people to try yoga, and it is more directly involved in every asana than any other part of the skeleton. Weakness in support for the spinal column is a leading cause of pain and suffering, inhibits the cultivation of prana, and makes simple sitting meditation not so simple. With greater and more stable range of motion in the spine we experience more ease and sensory awakening throughout the entire body. In this master class, we will explore asanas from every asana family in a flow sequence that gradually brings greater awareness, awakening and ease to the spine, and with it to the entire bodymind.
From 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm: Yoga Therapy – The Spine from Sacrum to Occiput
Back pain ranks #1 in musculo-skeletal complaints, starting with low back pain. In this session, we will look closely at ISJ dysfunction, piriformis syndrome, generalized low back pain, lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis, first considering the functional anatomy of each condition before applying adapted asana, pranayama and mediation techniques to healing them.
Saturday, December 9, 2017
From 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm: Master Class – Grounding, Inverting, and Levitating
While the we best stand on our feet, legs and hips, learning to safely support ourselves with the far more delicate structures of the hands, wrists, elbows and shoulder joints can generate deeper self-confidence, strength, and a more abiding sense of levity in life. In this master class, we will first explore how to establish balanced grounding through the hands and wrists, how to stabilize through the arms and shoulder girdle, and how to apply an awakened core, spine, and pelvis to gaining greater levity in hand support and arm balancing asanas. Each arm balance will be explored as a hip opener that might become an arm balance, thus offering each student a path from simple to complex forms in keeping with his or her conditions and intensions.
From 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm: Yoga Therapy – Shoulders, Elbows, Wrists
Tension in the shoulders, neck, elbows and wrists are increasingly common amid a world of laptops, mobile devices, daily life rituals – and amid a yoga world in which millions of people are doing Chaturanga Up Dog Down Dog many times every week (or day). Brachial plexus nerve entrapment, shoulder impingement syndrome, rotator cuff pathologies, elbow tendinopathy, carpal tunnel syndrome and related strains and pains are present among students in most classes. In this session, we will look closely at each of these conditions and to heal them with modified asanas and complementary practices from other healing arts.
Sunday, December 10, 2017
From 8:30 am to 10:30 am: Master Class – Cultivating Self-Acceptance and Self-Transformation in Asana, Pranayama, and Meditation
Yoga practices can be as though so many different windows through which to more clearly see ourselves from the variety of perspectives that each form creates. Paying attention to our actions and reactions, we can discover what we gravitate towards, resist, find frustrating or joyful. Rather than limiting our practices to gaining physical strength and flexibility, we can open ourselves to practicing as a tool of deeper self-discovery, and in cultivate self-acceptance in ways that makes the practice one of self-transformation. In this master class, we will do a balanced Vinyasa Flow practice –including asana, pranayama and meditation – in which the primary focus is self-awareness, self-study, and opening to clearer awareness about who we are in the present moment.
From 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm: Yoga Therapy – Mental & Emotional Wellbeing
Loss of contact with reality is called psychosis. Without using this term, the ancient yogis described this condition in spiritual terms as existential suffering rooted in delusion. All of one’s personal problems were considered spiritual issues to be resolved through ritual. Today, we live in a world in which stress and anxiety are increasingly commonplace, including among those with spiritual practices. Generalized anxiety, chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and addictions are widespread conditions found across the cultures and regions of the world. In this session, we will first consider ancient-to-modern yogic perspectives on mental health, moving from the gunas model to contemporary concepts for better understanding mental and emotional wellbeing. With this foundation, we will explore postural practices, guided pranayamas and heart-centered visualization practices that can help to heal what ails us in the heart and mind.
“When someone mentions the gracefulness of the night sky, climb up on the roof and dance and say, like this?”