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NL: Hi everyone. My name is Natalie Ledwell and this is the Inspiration Show. Today on the show we’re going to be talking about Yoga Therapy. My special guest is going to be doing a little deep dive on that and talk about the health benefits, and who actually can benefit from yoga therapy and what that looks like. But before we do that, I just want to remind you that if you are watching this show live on Facebook or if you’re watching a little later on our YouTube channel, don’t forget that after the show is over, just click the link below this video so you can take our 30 second quiz so we can figure out what’s holding you back from success- and help you power through that. So, please let me help me introduce- welcome my guest today, Jennie Lee. How are you, Jennie?
JL: I’m doing great. Thanks! It’s great to be here.
NL: Thank you. Yeah, now you’re also the author of a new book called “True Yoga”, which we’re going to talk about today. Lovely- great product placement there. Fantastic. But, what we - in the nature of the show, what we’d usually do is get you to tell us your story first- like have you always done yoga, or is that something that you got into it later in life? How did you get into doing this type of work?
JL: Sure. I had been practicing yoga for almost 20 years. I got involved with the physical practice first and like so many things in life, we’re attracted to something physically first and then in order for that relationship to deepen we get to know it on a little bit different, more spiritual, more emotional level. It was during some times of some deep loss and grief in my life that I dug deeper into the yoga philosophy and of things, and started studying the yoga sutras. So in that time, I found teachings that really brought me tools to work with the challenges that I was facing in my own life and that prompted me to then develop my practice of yoga therapy, which I’ve been offering to clients for about the last 17 years. It’s been an amazing, amazing honor to work with people as they go through all the challenges that we do us human beings- you know the changes of career, the deaths of loved ones, the major stressors of life, children leaving the home and you know everything that humans go through. Yoga- really I just have found that it has practices that can really help us find peace and balance no matter what’s going on on the outside. So, on a daily basis, yoga therapy is what I do. I work with clients one-to-one and see what they have going on.
NL: Alright, so it sounds like the type of yoga you’re talking about is different to when you get in and it’s a sweat box and people are sweating their butts off, which is not my favorite kind of yoga. But, what it sounds like you’re talking about is something completely different.
JL: It is. It’s quite different. I mean, it’s different and it’s the same. The physical yoga that people are really familiar with is one aspect to the eight-limb path of yoga and it’s a very valuable path because our bodies need to be in good condition. They need to be aligned, but they- the teachings of the Yoga Sutras say that the reason that we do that... The real reason we get our bodies in alignment is so that we can practice meditation and come into a place of stillness, where we can have a perception of ourselves, an awareness of our experience of life that is not connected to just all the rollercoaster of daily living, the many thoughts and emotions that fly through that we are on constant reaction to that. That’s only one part of our experience and, that through meditation, we’re able to have an experience of ourselves- the greater self, the higher self- in a different way. So the yoga therapy, just to kind of circle back to how it might differ from the classes that a lot of people walk into, it encompasses lifestyle practices, it encompasses energy management practices that might be through the breath work, but also through other ways in which we exchange energy throughout our days with the world around us. It also encompasses just a coaching in how to find that place of stillness. Meditation is not easy for anyone. Even long- term practitioners, like myself, still struggle. So, yeah, it’s just a much broader toolbox.
NL: Right. So I know you mentioned earlier the yoga sutras. Are they specific positions that you get into? Explain a little bit more about those. How important they are?
JL: Yeah. Great question. I should have defined that; I’m sorry. So, the Yoga Sutras are actually an ancient text and there are 196 short spiritual teachings and each sutra is a little teaching and they range from how to manage our physical bodies, to how to manage our minds, to how to manage our energy, to how to have full experience of enlightenment. So, my book, it actually takes just a short portion of those yoga sutras and looks very pragmatically for our modern day living at how those are applicable and ways in which we can practice them not just when we’re on our mats or on our meditation cushions, but really in the comings and goings of daily life with our families and our colleagues.
NL: Right. Do you need to practice these in a class situation? How do you cover these in the book?
JL: I do. So mostly this is an individual practice. When I am working with clients it’s one-to-one- very different than yoga classes. The book definitely steps people through these teachings in a way that they can work at their own pace and it’s not linear. They can pick and choose... Like, there are topics on peacefulness, or contentment, or devotion and so depending on what you have going on in your life and the things that might feel most inspiring to you, you could dive into a chapter and find exercises, or practices, to implement right away. I also have affirmations in the back page chapter- so things to reinforce. I know you’re all about that. So, reinforce those things that we are trying to create and manifest in our lives. I think we need all the tools that we can get to make that happen.
NL: Absolutely. It sounds like, with the book, the purpose is to really open people’s mind to what the Yoga Sutras are, but then for them to be able to tailor make a routine that’s specific to what their health issues, what the situation is in life, any other you know a factor that actually affects our energy.
JL: Exactly. That’s a great synopsis.
NL: Yeah. Right. Awesome. So, who are the people do you think would benefit the most from the book?
JL: It’s so interesting. I’ve had an amazing diversity of clients. I actually work with people from age six to age ninety-four right now. It’s pretty amazing to see how these teachings follow us throughout our lives and different things matter more at different stages, but I honestly feel that anyone who is really invested in self- development work could benefit from the book and from the practices of yoga in its bigger picture sense. Obviously everybody’s health conditions are different. Not everyone can go into a typical yoga class and do all the bendy, twisty postures, but anyone who can breathe can do the practices that are in the book. There are very accessible things for people of all health conditions. People who might be struggling with anxiety, or stress, will find tools that will be helpful. So it’s a real broad base.
NL: Right. Awesome. Now, I know that you say you do yoga therapy. So what does that look like?
JL: On a case-by-case basis, when someone comes in to do a yoga therapy session, we will first talk. It’s like any therapy kind of session. We’ll talk about what’s going on, what are the stressors in their life, what are their challenges, what do they wake up worried about, and my particular focus in yoga therapy is more on the psycho-spiritual end of the spectrum. There are yoga therapists who focus more on physical rehabilitation in the same way that a PT might because, certainly, there are yoga movements that help rehabilitate the body in many different ways. I offer that as well, but many of the clients who find me- I think just because of my personal background and how I came to this work, and also my studies in psychology- tend to come in with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, stress- those kind of things that might be up for them. So, we’ll have a little dialogue and then I will offer some practices- maybe some pranayama, that’s like a breath work practice to help them. Let’s say somebody comes in feeling anxiety, or they’re really ramped up, then we’ll do a breath work that will help them to calm down. Then that’s a tool that they can take with them and they can utilize on a daily basis when they’re coming and going and they’re feeling a little bit anxious. We’ll do some movement often to release emotions, or tensions, that are in the body. Then we’ll do a synopsis and give them some homework to go. I’m big on homework. Not everybody does it, but they always have to take if they’d like to use it.
NL: Right, because that’s the thing. I think we know enough now that if we don’t release these emotions, if we keep things bottled up inside, they do manifest as disease within the body. So it sounds like through what you teach, or the therapy that you use through movement and breathing, we can help to release these emotions and these energy blockages before they manifest into something more sinister.
JL: Exactly. I think it’s important for people to know that they have control over their experience to a degree. Obviously there are conditions that might be out of control, but we as averagely functioning human beings do have a lot of control. It takes some work, some effort, some application, but that’s one of the teachings of the sutras is putting in our right effort. So we do have to show up and do our practice, but as long as people know kind of what practices to reach for in certain situations- I mean, take for instance the breath work. There are certain breath techniques that would actually magnify that sense of anxiety if given to someone. That’s not good. I need to know what things, what affect, the different techniques are going to have. So that’s the benefit of working one-to-one with the yoga therapist, rather than going into a class where the teacher might offer a bunch of practices, but they might not be right for each person in that class. Certainly somebody suffering from anxiety is not going to want to do breath retention, or a rapid breath. They’re going to want to do a slower more methodical breath that’s going to take the parasympathetic nervous system into a state of greater relaxation.
NL: Yeah. Absolutely. Now, I agree. Are there any stories you can share of people that you’ve worked with that they’ve seen really amazing results from doing yoga therapy?
JL: Gosh. So many over the years. I always reach for the most recent one, but I had a woman come in presenting with anxiety. This seems to be big right now. The world is kind of anxious.
NL: Yeah. I wonder why?
JL: Yeah, I wonder why. So I have got a lot of people with anxiety at the moment. But, yes, she really started to go into almost a full-blown panic attack. As the coach, I need to be very mindful, very present and track her experience and help her to be present with that experience in a way that’s safe. So I just kind of came to her level. I started pacing my breath with her breath, which was a little bit accelerated at the time. But sat close with her, placed my hand on her so that she could feel connected and then I started to regulate my breath, so that she could follow me down to a slower pace. Just over the course of I’d say five minutes I was able to help her to calm down that sense of real fearfulness and overwhelm that she was experiencing. Then we were able to go into some gentle movement that helped her to release that tension from her body. It’s almost like an animal that’s been hit, and then they stand up and they have to shake it out. Some of the movement can really help us to release that anxiousness. So that was a really nice experience that I had recently.
NL: Yeah. It sounds like what you’re also doing is equipping people with the tools that, if they were to feel anxiety or so forth again, they know exactly what to do with breath and movement to be able to move through that.
JL: Exactly. It’s a very scary feeling. Certainly with anxiety often comes with that feeling like, “I can’t breathe”, or a constriction of some kind. So just knowing any simple tool to take it down a notch and feel like, “Ok. I can get control of this myself” is very powerful- empowering for people.
NL: Yeah. Well, Jenny, thank you for joining me today. I’ve never heard of yoga therapy before, so it’s been really enlightening for me too. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. For people who want to connect with you and to get their hands on the book, where could we send them to do that?
JL: Great. So, again, the book is True Yoga: Practicing With The Yoga Sutras for Happiness and Spiritual Fulfillment and my website is JennieLeeYogaTherapy.com and it’s Jennie with and IE. JennieLeeyogatherapy.com. I work with people all over....
NL: Awesome. So we’ll make sure that we have a banner and link here, so people that are watching the show can go directly through to that. Thanks again for joining me, Jennie. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
JL: Thanks so much. Great to be here.
NL: Now, guys, like I said if you’re watching this on Facebook live, or if you’re watching it on the YouTube channel afterwards, don’t forget to click on the link to go through to Jennie’s site. Click on the link below so you can take our 30 second quiz to figure out what’s holding you back from success. If you are watching this on mindmovies.com, don’t forget to leave your email so we can send you the manifesting with the masters video e-course for free. So- until next time. Remember to live large, choose courageously and love without limits. We’ll see you soon.