Jo Ann began her own yoga journey over 12 years ago. She’s now a certified yoga teacher, a certified yoga teacher trainer, a certified personal trainer and a passionate stand up paddle board yoga instructor and enthusiast.
But now, her journey with her health and her own yoga training and practice has taken her deeper into a new modality of healing called yoga therapy.
We spent some time with Jo Ann chatting about yoga therapy, and we even experienced this energy work ourselves which led to more awareness around imbalances going on within our own body. Read on to learn more about yoga therapy and the energy work that Jo Ann is doing now…
What is yoga therapy?
Yoga therapy is energy work. It’s a self-empowering process, where the student/client, with the help of the yoga therapist, implements a personalized and evolving yoga practice. This practice addresses dis-ease within a person not only in a multi-dimensional manner, but it also aims to alleviate the person’s suffering and facilitate healing in a progressive, noninvasive and complementary manner.
So, how is yoga therapy different than attending a yoga class?
Yoga therapy sessions are different than going to a group yoga class. In a group class, the yoga teacher is focused on sharing yoga methods and practices in a broad spectrum. In yoga therapy sessions, the focus is individualized to ensure individuals receive what they need.
Who would benefit from yoga therapy, and what does yoga therapy look like for your students/clients?
Students/clients may receive clarity about things that are going on with their bodies by clearing their energy, through different yoga positions and through meditation with breath work.
How did you find yoga therapy? How did your own journey lead you to study it?
I am currently completing my advanced yoga teacher training coursework, and part of that coursework through my yoga teacher trainer is with yoga therapy. I have been a student/client of yoga therapy for about six months now, and I’ve experienced so many positive benefits in my own health since beginning with it. And now I feel so passionate about sharing this modality of healing with others. I always ask my students/clients, “Who are you really, who are you at your core?” Because most of us have become a certain way, maybe we’ve become someone that isn’t who we really are. This can happen because of life circumstances, childhood experiences or traumatic experiences.
Tell us a little more about energy and why it’s important for people to be more aware of our personal energy.
Everything is made of energy, and human beings are no different. We are all made of energy. The purpose of yoga therapy is to move the energy through the body, to draw it out. The goal is to release any negative energy that is held within the body, which can lead to imbalances, dis-ease, pain and illness. In doing this a person can become more positive, more balanced and have greater overall well-being.
You said you’ve experienced benefits in yourself with this work. Can you tell us more about what you’ve experienced?
Last fall, I had a foreign object in my body. I didn’t even know it was there at the time, but I did have a lot of pain in different areas, my lower back, my lower abdomen. Through using both yoga therapy and acupuncture (which is another kind of energy work), my body was able to release what was a fluid-filled cyst and my pain is now gone. I was able to connect with my body on a very deep level and to release what I was holding on to.
How does yoga therapy complement a person’s regular yoga practice?
In a traditional yoga class, we just focus on looking at the yang poses which are active and powerful and generate heat in the body. This is great and is very beneficial! Yoga therapy involves working with the physical, mental and energetic body which can help a person to create even more balance within the entire body and can help to promote any healing that needs to take place.
So, how can we become aware of and help our own personal energy? Is there anything you recommend as far as working with our own energy on a daily basis?
A stretching practice is a wonderful start. Do a few gentle stretches in the morning first thing when you get out of bed, just to move your body around after being still for so long, and also just to tune in and see how your body may be feeling that day. By gently moving and stretching, you can feel for any areas of tightness or pain. Also, learn how to be with yourself for a few minutes each day. Light a candle, dim the lights and make this time with yourself special and sacred. Sit in the quiet and focus on tuning into yourself more.
What are three things that you do right away when you first wake in the morning?
- Drink water. I drink it all throughout the day to keep my body hydrated.
- Journal and set intentions. I tune into myself and my body when I first wake up, writing down anything that may come up for me about how I’m feeling physically or emotionally. I then set my intentions around what I’d like my day to look like and the things I’d like to accomplish for the day.
- Cleanse the skin on my face with a nice, gentle cleanser.