This is a good and common question - one I’d like to answer with my own testimonial.
I began practicing traditional yoga in my early 20’s as a way to strengthen and become more flexible, and in particular, to address back pain which I’d experienced since my teens. Although yoga helped me to manage this discomfort for over two decades, my back pain would still come and go. In many ways, I accepted the pain as something I just had to ‘deal with’ as I practiced yoga and lived my life.
A wise mentor’s words really stuck with me: If I was moving in pain, how could I expect my students not to move in pain? Simply put, I needed to be able to ‘walk the talk’ – to become more curious about how I was moving, to really acknowledge my limitations, and commit to not pushing through those limitations by surprisingly, doing less.
My introduction to therapeutic yoga, with its slow, subtle and specific movements, has allowed me to develop a new stability and ease, and a marked reduction in back pain. My body has visibly changed, and my yoga asanas feel more fluid, grounded and clear. Not only has this brought a new energy and depth to my yoga practice, it has also greatly enhanced my efficacy as a teacher.
Most notably, I have more mental calm, focus and stamina, and I find I can engage more fully in my busy life of teaching group classes, seeing private clients, furthering my professional development, making time for my amazing friends & family and overseeing the runnings of my mature business.
As a teacher, I’ve had the pleasure of watching individuals move for 20 years, and I can say without hesitation that I have seen more progress and change in my students since I began integrating therapeutic yoga into my teaching.
Therapeutic Yoga has enabled me to teach from a perspective of moving more 'purely'. It has given me the eyes to see my students more clearly, recognize where they compensate, and understand how we can work together to heighten their body awareness, improve their movement and get stronger by finding more ease and better function.
At the heart of the practice is mindfulness – cultivating a direct relationship with ‘what is’. I invite my students to listen to whispers of tension, to come away from pain and restrictions, and experience the ease and stability that is fostered with intentional movements, relaxed breathing and focus.
They are encouraged to meet challenging exercises and poses without pushing, striving or strengthening over tension, but instead with quiet attention and steadiness of body and breath.
The greatest gift that therapeutic yoga offers is that it can be practiced by everyone – elite athletes, those with mobility issues, individuals with chronic and acute illness, and people seeking overall balance, reduced stress, less fatigue and more vitality in their lives.
I believe everyone, including myself, has the potential to move and feel better, ‘in sickness and in health’, and to be more connected to themselves and others - whatever life brings.
~ Andrea Soos