As part of Yoga Week 2022, Yoga Australia Board Member and Yoga Therapist, Rebel Tucker talks about becoming a Yoga Therapy…
BECOMING A YOGA THERAPIST
My journey to becoming a yoga therapist was a long time in the making. It certainly did not happen overnight and was a slow pull in that direction. Over decades of practicing yoga, and after achieving other certifications in natural therapies, I eventually completed studies to work specifically as a yoga therapist.
I am especially interested in yoga’s therapeutic applications, and as much as one might think that all yoga is therapeutic…the word ‘potentially’ needs to be added in there. All yoga is potentially therapeutic, but not all yoga is therapeutic.
In fact, some yoga can reinforce the goal oriented, ego-centric…need to ‘look good’ or ‘achieve’, rather than be therapeutic and bring us closer to our true nature. In younger years, I certainly felt the need to ‘perform’ better at yoga, despite my teacher’s instructions. In group classes it can be quite easy for teachers to not cater to the specific needs of each student. Whereas one-on-one or small groups with a common therapeutic focus foster a personalised approach where the teacher can really meet each student where they are physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I really wanted to extend my knowledge, understanding and practice of a broader range of the therapeutic practices of yoga, and be able to share these tools with students to assist them with their health and wellbeing.
I am particularly drawn to the philosophy of yoga, as this is what had made the biggest impact on my own life. The skills for life that yogic philosophy bring can be brought out in personalised practice and one-on-one time with a teacher trained in yoga therapy.
The further training in yoga therapy should prepare you to be adept at approaching a student with a level of professional care, where you are aware of your scope of practice, and have the skills to work with physical, mental, and emotional issues. Yoga therapists have in-depth training to be able to assess their students, keep them safe, and move them towards their therapeutic goals.
Yoga therapy is more than physical practices and basic breathwork…it addresses every aspect of life! It is tailored to the individual and works with the individual’s natural capacities of body and mind to optimise wellbeing.
I love teaching yoga classes, and I really appreciate the experience of working one-on-one with a student to help them deepen their practice and extend their own knowledge of the tools and practices contained within yoga.
Working with one student at a time brings the opportunity for building rapport and getting to know the student such that I can offer them practices suited to them at this point in their life.
Yoga therapy can complement other therapies, such as psychotherapy, physical and occupational therapy, and other medical healthcare options. I am finding that therapeutic yoga, over general yoga practice, is now something that students are being referred to me for by their healthcare providers.
There are now some studies showing that yoga therapy has a potential role in the management of chronic pain and self-care.
Yoga therapy is not an overnight fix. I work with a student over time to help them overcome specific challenges, and to establish habits of self-care that will last a lifetime. Rather than being ‘protocol driven’, i.e. do this yoga for this condition, yoga therapy is individual driven. It is about working with the person, meeting them where they are at, discussing their challenges, and developing achievable practices to suit them.
Level 2 Yoga Teacher and Yoga Therapist
Yoga Australia Board