What is Yoga Therapy?

Yoga Therapy is an emerging field that is regulated by the International Association of Yoga Therapists. It requires certification through an accredited school that provides 1000 hours of instruction.

Yoga teachers that you typically find in studios will have between 200-500hrs of yoga teacher training designed for teaching group classes and sequences to help with health and wellness in a general way. While methods and practices vary across yoga teachers, yoga therapists focus on the client’s needs. My yoga therapy clients are typically not coming to learn yoga.

Yoga therapists are trained to work with the tools of yoga (breathing, movement, stillness, philosophy) to support individuals with specific conditions. Some of my current and past clients have conditions that include physical pain (back pain, shoulder, hip and knee injuries), autoimmune diseases like MS, Parkinsons, lupus and fibromyalgia,  anxiety disorders, cancer support, insomnia, stress management, and improvement of athletic performance, etc. Yoga therapy can work in conjunction with your team of health care providers or as a stand alone therapy. My particular training in yoga therapy is very focused on kinesiology and biomechanics and teaching the client how to become aware of  patterns that keep us limited in cycles of pain or discomfort so they can become empowered on how to listen to their body and intervene before symptoms arise.

What can you expect in a yoga therapy session?  My sessions are in a private setting where I see clients one-on-one. As a yoga therapist I take you through an in-depth intake and physical assessment in order to get to you and your concerns and goals. The therapeutic relationship becomes important as our work becomes a collaboration between myself and the client. Along with the work we do in a session, you will be given a program with practices to work on and/or reflect on and will have follow up appointments or email check-in’s to make sure progress is happening.

Why should you work with a yoga therapist? As a yoga therapist I have a whole hour to work with you. Unlike other health care providers that have time limited sessions, I am able to take the time to get to you know and your story. This allows me to help you connect the dots between seemingly unrelated factors that others may miss. A yoga therapist is able to see  the broader context of your life and how it relates to your condition and guides you to make helpful shifts that others often miss.

Yoga therapists take a whole body approach to healing. Specialists have a tendency to be myopic and focus on one thing. You may experience me directing your focus to something seemingly unrelated. For example, I might direct your attention to your hip movement, when you came in with a shoulder injury. This is because I am able to see connections that other might miss. This leads to faster progress and healing that lasts.

The collaborative process seeks to educate and provide opportunities for feedback so you can learn how to self-assess and become independent in your practice. This is crucial in developing long term sustainable results.

Relationships matter. You should always feel like we are on equal ground. I try to create a therapist/client relationship that is supportive, caring, non-judgemental and empowering. My goal is to be your trusted advisor.

Yoga therapists are trained in practices that facilitate healing connection and balance in the physical body, mental states and emotions. While my work with you may largely focus on the physical body, what you learn is carried over into other aspects of your life.

What are you waiting for? Book your yoga therapy session today.

 

 

 

 

How Our Body Communicates – Creating More Ease in Business

Last time I explained about how our body speaks to us through whispers (yellow lights) and screams (red lights). Today let’s explore how we can take our experience into our work life.

Have you ever been to a yoga class where you came in tired and feeling like crap and left feeling great? At some point, as we go about our life, that feeling fades and we cycle back to feeling crappy again and we repeat.

When I work with my yoga therapy clients we seek to take that one or two steps further. I ask my clients to notice when this good feeling starts to fade. I ask, “When you notice – what are you doing?”

We can figure our yellow lights by noticing what is correlated to that change in feeling. A conversation might go like this:

Do you notice how at the end of the session you feel a bit brighter than earlier?

Do you notice that are standing taller now?

Can you feel the distinction between the two (standing taller vs feeling slumped; or feeling tired vs feeling energized)?

What becomes interesting is that if you notice when all this starts to fade you can start to catch the yellow lights. If you are someone who spends a lot of time in front of the computer or in the office, you can start to notice how the physical feeling of returning to your slump (opposite of standing tall) is related to how you are managing the business at work.

Think about this: how do you approach work when you are feeling bright and tall vs how you manage work when you are feeling tired and slumpy?

The business at work isn’t necessarily going to change or go away but what you can change is how you are with it. It’s like a yoga practice, you can push through the pain and develop tension in order to create a shape in a yoga pose (you’re with the pose in a strained relationship), or you can try smaller movements that are pain free (you’re with a pose in an easeful relationship) where you are nourishing a new way of being. [side note: you may have heard the phrase, how we are on the inside is a mirror of how we are on the outsideor how we do one thing is how we do everything– if you’re creating tension or pain in a yoga class you are likely doing the same thing at work and in your relationships. If you’re creating ease in your yoga practice, you have the ability to create ease at work and in your relationships.]

Now, when you leave the class or session, and you get back to work or whatever life requires of you, and then you notice you are doing a little bit of slumping, try maybe 1, 2 or 3 things so that you can shift up the slumping (maybe your teacher wrote out a program for you or you remember a pose that made you feel great) and then see how that shifts up how you are relating to the scenario at work. In my experience, when I feel strong and confident in my body, I relate to people and problems in a much different way, compared to when I felt tired and achy.

While I can’t fix you, I’m here to support you so that you can make the shifts to get to where you want to be. If you want to shift or change how you are feeling, you can’t keep doing everything the same as before. We can’t expect a different outcome if we keep doing the same things. Change requires different actions. My private sessions are a collaborative process where we work together to figure out what it is that you need so you can thrive in your life and at work. If this is something that resonates with you, I’d love to chat further to see how I can help.

 

 

How Our Body Communicates – Understanding Yellow Lights


I was giving a 10 minute presentation last week and I was talking about what yoga therapy is, what to expect in a session and the concept my teacher Susi describes as Yellow Lights.

This post is going to seek to explain what yellows lights are and how you can start to recognize them. My follow up post will describe an example of how you can translate your yoga experience into business/life.

A yellow light, much like a traffic light is a warning signal. It is something that is telling us to slow down because a red light (danger) is coming. The Yellow Lights concept is a key piece in the healing process if we want to have long lasting sustainable results. Sure, we can seek a quick fix solution where we feel good temporarily, but unless we can get to the underlying issues that are feeding the problem, we are going to stay stuck in the cycle of pain.

Imagine driving down the road and you see a road sign that says, “danger ahead” then a little while after, “road closed,” then, “caution” then “slow down,” then “STOP!” Each sign is a little bit bigger and clearer.

Now imagine that you ignore the signs and speed past them. You don’t stop on time and find your car teetering on the end of a cliff, or you go over the cliff altogether.

Like pain, it’s obviously not an ideal situation to be in. It’s going to take a whole lot of effort and intervention to get your car back up and over the cliff and back on the road than it would have been if you had listened to the signs.

Each sign is a yellow light. These yellow lights are warning you that something dangerous is coming up.

Another way to describe the yellow lights or warning signals is a whisper. In yoga therapy, I talk about how the body is constantly speaking to us. The warning signals are little whispers that are asking you to do something. When you ignore a whisper, it gets a little louder and more frequent. If you continue to blow past the whispers, they will become screams (the red lights) of pain or discomfort.

Our body is constantly giving us feedback. Everything, both inside of us and in our environment, creates a physiological response in our body. Our brain is constantly scanning our environment for safety and danger so it can respond accordingly. It provides information to our nervous system so we feel either relaxed and at ease or on high alert.  We see someone we like and we are filled with a sense of warmth. We hear our inbox ding and we are filled with dread. Our tummies rumble and we know we are hungry. Our knees twinge and we know if we keep going our knees will start to hurt then our hips and then our backs.

The twinge in the knee is a whisper (it’s time to slow down). The hip discomfort is a louder whisper (I told you to take a break). The excruciating back pain that doesn’t go way is a scream (you didn’t listen and now I’m forcing you to pay attention).

When we start to listen to our bodies’ language, we can start to decode and understand how it is communicating with us. The concept of the yellow lights helps us listen. We can use our bodies as a barometer to move towards things that make us feel safe and healthy and keep us away from things that invoke a sense of danger (interpreted as stress and pain). (side note: Pain scientist and researcher Lorimer Mosely from Australia talks about how Safety and Danger can modulate pain).

Listening to our bodies requires some quiet and stillness which can be really challenging because we live in a culture that values hustle and doing, pushing through, driving hard, and giving it our all. We end up ignoring our bodies innate intelligence about what we need because we are so busy chasing after something else. The awesome thing is, it can be learned. Our bodies never lie. Our minds will lie.  We know our minds play tricks on us but our bodies are pretty reliable in their feedback. This is why I love yoga therapy. It slows us down and provides opportunities to feel what is happening in the body.

Where we go from here may be different for everybody. Maybe our starting point is learning how to feel. As we go through a trajectory of movement, from point A to point B, consider what happens and what changes along the way.

Try this: notice what the soles of your feet feel like against the floor. Feel sensation in your hands. Notice what your breath is like (Is it fast/shallow, deep/slow? Are you holding your breath? Can you feel it in your chest? Can you feel it in your belly?).

We can begin to notice a lot just by paying attention to different parts of our body. Once we start to notice, we are growing our awareness, which is awesome, because we can’t change anything we aren’t aware of.

If you are interested in exploring your own red lights and yellow lights here is another way you can start to explore on your own.

  • Take note either mentally or make a list (I love lists because later we can go back and see what’s changed) of what your red lights are.
    • What is happening either physically (pain, headaches, stress, anxiety, fatigue, anger, irritability, insomnia, flare ups, etc) that you consider a scream or red light?
  • Then, and it may or may not be immediately apparent, start to notice what activities or events are correlated with the red lights.
    • Can you identify 1 or 2 yellow lights or whispers that lead up to or contribute to the problem?

The more yellow lights we can become aware of, the faster we can resolve the issue. When you recognize the whisper this is your opportunity to notice what red light is correlated to that yellow light and decide what you’re going to do so you don’t have to hear the scream if you were to continue along the same path.

Can you see how you will start to resolve the issue? If the pain or problem recurs, it just means you missed a yellow light, which is an opportunity for more noticing. It is a new layer of awareness that had become available to you. It’s another interesting data point that something else is contributing to the problem.

So cool right?! Sometimes it can be really challenging to identify the yellow lights if we are experiencing chronic pain. Yoga therapy can help you reduce the pain so you can find those correlating pieces as you work to build stamina around new movement patterns so pain eventually stays away.  If you need more support send me an email and I’d love to chat!

Stay tuned for part two, where I will guide you on how to use the yellow lights to make work more enjoyable.

Intentions, Feelings and Fresh Beginnings for 2018


Happy Holidays! This has been a year of tremendous personal and professional growth for me. As I dug into setting goals for 2018 I found myself basing these goals or intentions off how I want to feel. After doing some soul searching and looking at the different aspects of life from working and lifestyle, to health and wellness, creativity and learning, relationships and society and spirituality, I narrowed down my core desired feelings for 2018. My intention is to use these feelings to direct my thoughts and actions for the upcoming year. As a part of this process  I am excited to announce that in the New Year I am shifting my focus to teaching primarily therapeutic yoga. I will still be available for corporate classes and group classes but I am ready to shift my focus to long lasting, sustainable results for my clients.

I am looking to connect with individuals ages 40-65 years old, who perhaps have older children, are experiencing shifts in their careers or approaching retirement. They are beginning to feel a disconnect in their life in regards to their exercise and lifestyle habits that aren’t making them feel as good as in the past. Perhaps fitness classes at the gym are no longer having the desired effect on the body as they used to. Experiences with illness or injury have created challenges in how they relate to themselves and others. This person is looking for something more meaningful in their life and is ready and willing to invest some time and effort into making a sustainable shift in their well-being.

If this is you, let’s work together. It’s time to take your power back. I can help you close the gap between where you are currently, and where you want to be. Therapeutic yoga is a movement based therapy that empowers you to take control of your wellbeing with support all along the way. I provide the knowledge, tools and skills to help you elevate your current state so you can get back to enjoying life the way you were meant to.

The majority of health care and wellness professionals treat one part of the body or where they perceive the pain to be. The truth is, that we are more than a collection of individual parts that needs to be treated or manipulated by someone or something outside of us. We are a dynamic web of interrelated elements including our physical body, our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, past experiences and our environment. This is why I work in partnership with my clients to develop a customized program that meets them where they are for what they want to achieve.

Sign up now for 12 weekly sessions and we will build a framework for getting stronger, more relaxed and settled in our body and mind. With stability and ease comes strength, calmness, clarity, creativity and joy. Your practice will be progressive so you build on the skills as you master them. Think of yourself as the co-creator of your development as we work together to explore the possibilities.

With love and hope,

Lindsay Keefe

Private Yoga Downtown Toronto

From February 13-16, 2018 I will be teaching private sessions at The Coach House at 7 Admiral Road in the Annex. 

Schedule:

Tuesday (Feb 13): 11am – 3pm

Wednesday (Feb 14): 2pm – 7pm

Thursday (Feb 15): 11am – 3pm

Friday (Feb 16): 1pm – 6pm

Sign up now for a one hour introductory session and find out how rehabilitative yoga can change how you move, how you relate to your body, and unlock your healing potential for long-term sustainable results.

New Workshops Starting January 2017!

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My pain clinic workshops are open to everyone. However, if you’re not sure who these classes would be ideal for you can answer these 3 questions:

  1. Do you have chronic pain or long standing limitation of movement?
  2. Have you tried a number of different treatments but only found temporary relief?
  3. Are you ready and willing to be an active participant in your recovery?

If you answer yes to any or all of these questions, then my workshops are meant for you. Our bodies are amazing entities that have the ability to change and heal themselves, especially we take the right steps to aid the healing process. The truth is, you can improve your overall function and ease in which you move everyday with some very simple, easy principles and movements.

I have written a couple blog posts about the myths of Injury, Pain and Strain and the Truths of Healing. Now I want to give you an opportunity to put these truths into a practice. Starting this January, I will be offering monthly workshops to help you address your injury, pain, or strain. Each workshop is 2 hours where we will address pure movement, breath work, relaxation, and meditation. The first workshop, January 14th will focus on how to address low back pain, hips, knees and feet. In February, the workshop will focus on shoulders, neck and arms.

These workshops will be pre-requisites for future registered group classes that will continue to develop the principles learned in these sessions.

My intention to teach you how to move properly so healing can begin to take place. Pain doesn’t need to be a part of our “normal” day to day life.  After each workshop I will give you a video of the key movements so you can continue to practice at home. Unfortunately we can’t take one yoga class and walk away healed. It is a practice and requires ongoing dedication and effort from you to continue the process.

Class sizes for my workshops have been kept purposefully small, so you can get the most of our your experience.

The first workshop will be:

  • Date: January 14th 2017
  • Time: 1:30pm-3:30pm
  • Location: McMaster Fitness at 1820 Bayview Ave just north of Eglinton. (FREE Parking)
  • Cost: $45 plus HST – to be paid in advance to secure your spot.
  • Focus: Low back pain, hips, knees, ankles.

Book Your Spot

 

Myths about Injury, Pain, Ache and Strain & The Truths of Healing – Part 2

Tree Handstand VariationIs my last article I discussed Susi Hately’s* 5 myths about pain and truths about healing. Here are 5 more to convince you that life without pain is entirely possible. It is all up to you.

Healing from pain should be a multi-disciplinary team effort. Going to just one healthcare/wellness practitioner may provide some ease from the discomfort but the pain keeps returning.  Often what we fail to realize is that the problem doesn’t lie in the same place that feel the pain. Restriction through the hips can be the source of knee or ankle pain for example. Elbow or wrist pain from the shoulder blades. That being said, to address the issue of pain is to treat the whole person, not just the “spot” of pain.

Along with your yoga therapist you may wish to see your chiropractor to relieve subluxations, massage therapy to relax and calm the muscles, physio, osteo, acupuncturist, naturopath, aromatherapist, reiki, healing waters,  etc. Diet too, is often overlooked when it comes to the healing process of physical pain. The food that we consume can impact how we think, feel and act. It is important that you also take this into consideration and get tested for food allergies (I won’t go any further into this today).

Here are 5 more myths about pain the truths of healing:

Sixth Myth: Acheyness is normal.

Sixth Truth: Physiologically, yes, it is. And, it doesn’t have to be a normal part of your life.

 

Seventh Myth: Being achey is a part of yoga.

Seventh Truth: Nope. Ease is part of yoga.

 

Eighth Myth: Pulling the shoulders back, belly in and chin in/back is part of improving posture.

Eighth Truth: A well-functioning body surrenders upward. This creates a calm, steady, and strong posture.

 

Ninth Myth: Once pain is there, it will never be resolved.

Ninth Truth: Tissue can change. It is a matter of listening and being aware and then acting on what you hear and perceive.

 

Tenth Myth: Pain is just a way of life.

Tenth Truth: For now, maybe. And if there is a compelling reason for change, and the right professional/team of professionals to guide you, anything can change.

When you work with me in rehabilitative yoga, I can refer you to excellent healthcare/wellness providers in Toronto to help you get out of pain fast.

(*Myths published by Susi Hately – Functional Synergy)

Myths about Injury, Pain, Ache and Strain & The Truths of Healing

TrikonasanaI’m going to let you in on a secret. Tell everyone. Seriously. You can live pain free and it’s super easy!

Often in conversation, whether it is in a yoga class or a passing conversation, I hear resignation to pain caused by injury, illness or stress. As a society we have taught ourselves to accept our physical imbalances, our fatigue, chronic stress, rigidity and tightness in the body, and our inability to move in the same way we did when we were younger. All these things I have just listed do not have to be your reality, despite what you think or may have been told.

After I was in a car accident in 2008. I thought I would have to live with at least a certain level of back pain for the rest of my life, despite my regular yoga practice and chiropractor visits. After studying therapeutic yoga with Susi Hately, I learned that I could have a pain free/discomfort free life. So let’s get clear on  some of they myths of injury/pain/ache/strain and the truths of healing.*

First myth: Pain is part of getting older.
First truth: Tissue can change and function can improve at any age. It all depends on the stimulus you give it.

Second myth: Nothing has worked.
Second truth: Nothing has worked, yet.

Third myth: Feeling pain means being overwhelmed by pain.
Third truth: By learning to move in a range that doesn’t increase pain, your pain will decrease.

Fourth myth: It took 40 plus years to create this problem, it will take a long time to resolve it.
Fourth truth: If your reason for resolving the issue is compelling enough, the speed of healing can be quite mind blowing.

Fifth myth: True change is impossible.
Fifth myth: True change is entirely possible. The first and second steps are awareness and self-care.

If these myths are resonating with you, consider getting in touch with me to chat about how I can customize a program specifically for you.

Pain Clinic workshops will be coming soon. Stay tuned for more details. Contact me to be added to my newsletter or to schedule a consultation or class.

(*Myths published by Susi Hately – Functional Synergy)

World Yoga Day – Free Class at Trinity Bellwoods Park

World Yoga Day posterWorld Yoga Day is June 21st and Innergy Corporate Yoga teachers are hosting a FREE yoga class at Trinity Bellwoods Park downtown Toronto. The class will be taught by four of Innergy’s teachers from 6:45pm to 8:00pm in the park. Fresh on Crawford is also throwing in something delicious so stay tuned for more details closer to the date. As an additional bonus you will be entered into a draw to win a free Private or Corporate Yoga class. What’s even better is four teachers means four chances to win! Bring your friends. We can’t wait to see you there!

Find the event on Facebook!

3 Easy Steps to a Personalized Home Yoga Practice this Summer

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I hear all the time, “I love the idea of practicing yoga but I just don’t have time to go to a studio. I can’t afford regular private yoga classes, how can I have a yoga practice without the cost and time commitment?”

I hear you!

Now that summer is almost here, the days are longer and we are spending more time with outdoor activities and travelling. As much as ever, it is important to dedicate certain activities to a regular routine or schedule. If yoga is on your radar as a part of your self-care this summer, I can help you get there without having to commit to regularly scheduled classes or dragging yourself away to a studio for group classes. Like any skill or good habit you want to develop, you do need to set aside some time and dedication to practice. It really is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

The 3 Step Process:

Step 1: Book a complimentary consultation with me (10-20 minutes) to discuss your goals and what you would like your personal yoga practice to look like.

Step 2: Book a 1 hour private yoga session at your home with me. You will learn a personalized yoga sequence that you can practice as often as you want. I will write out the sequence for you with diagrams. I will break down how you can use it for shorter practices if a full hour isn’t an option for a daily practice. How awesome is that? Only 1 private yoga class and you are all set!

Step 3: Dedicate time daily or as many days of the week as you want to practice the sequence I taught you. The more often you practice the better you feel, the more energy you will have and the better you will sleep at night.

yoga sequence

Step 4 (optional) – Book a follow up session. I will go over your sequence with you, check your alignment, answer any questions you might have and help you add to or modify your practice as needed. (Bonus: If you book a follow up session at the same time as your initial session I will include weekly accountability calls (up to 4) to check in and see how your practice is going.)

When we take care of ourselves, we are better able to take care of others and the world becomes a more beautiful place.