Teaching Yoga for Digestive Health

Exploring the content of her book Yoga Therapy for Digestive Health (Singing Dragon 2018), Charlotte Watts leads this online course to explore the theory and practice for yoga teachers, yoga therapists, experienced practitioners and other body and movement workers. The course will cover the fascial, stress, trauma and sensory connections with digestive issues that are so relevant within yoga philosophy and practice.

Digestive Health

What will be covered in this course?

This training will explore how yoga - with its focus on stilling the mind - can have profound effects through the gut-brain axis on conditions such as IBS, IBD, acid reflux, colitis, diverticulitis and more.

Over three 4-hour online sessions (3 weeks apart, exploring 6 themes) we will explore the continual communications between the gut and the brain and the relevance of the fascia, vagus nerve, psoas-diaphragm connections, stress, trauma, interoception and proprioception in digestive health. Also how yoga philosophy focuses on accessing this central axis and recognising our need to listen to our visceral states. This is with a view to gaining understanding of digestive system health as the heart of our whole being, relating and health through all other body systems; and how coming back to a mindful asana practice with guidance from gut feelings can feed into an intelligent practice guided by the yamas and gunas.

This will be practically applied for students’ practice and teaching approach, exploring how a range of practices (incorporating movement, meditation and breath) can support health through optimal digestive function. Charlotte’s book Yoga Therapy for Digestive Health is recommended supportive reading for the course.

Taster Session Recording

Course Structure

There are 6 themes to cover the course content (outlined below) – these will be explored in pairs over the three live online sessions and each contains the following pre-recorded (asynchronous) learning materials:

  • A detailed presentation on an area of physiology and how the yoga system can support this. These are pre-recorded in two parts as both video and audio format (self-study) for you to refer back to.
  • A pre-recorded physical practice to support digestive health in different ways that relate to the week’s theoretical content; including modern anatomical, yoga philosophy and body psychotherapy, as well as stress and trauma links to digestive dysfunction – as video and audio format for you to be able to revisit and explore the practices (self-study).
  • A supportive practice as an audio resource to bring in other aspects of the yoga path or related, more modern, complementary techniques (self-study).
  • Specific content to read from Charlotte’s book Yoga Therapy for Digestive Health.
  • A self-enquiry question around practice and teaching to bring to group discussion



Course dates and themes covered

The course will require 3.5-4 hrs per week of study and practice. You will get the most from the content if you have completed the presentations, practice and reading for each theme before the relevant live sessions.

19th May

Theme 1 – Journey around the Digestive System

The physicality of the digestive system, including what happens to the food we eat through each part of the digestive tract. Exploring how the gut is a sensory part of us and relationship with the nervous system and how stress and trauma can knock digestion off-course.

Theme 2 – Philosophy for the Modern Gut

How key yoga philosophical concepts relate to the very physical realm of digestion, and beyond into our energetics. Exploring the links between nourishment at our centre and the subtle body concepts of nadis and agni, the doshas, the vayus and the koshas.

9th June

Theme 3 – Visceral, Subtle and Physical Anatomy

How we are organised from the ground up and how the psoas muscle and fascia link movement patterns and held habits with digestive issues. Examining common modern postural issues and how sensitive and intelligent bandhas in yoga asana can help unravel (rather than exacerbate) issues of holding and visceral tightness from stress, trauma and inflammation.

Theme 4 – Body Psychotherapy and the Chakras

Using the modern chakra system where body psychotherapy is enrolled, we look at the physical and emotional development of the body from the root up. Exploring this journey from birth to adulthood can help make sense of the contributing factors to digestive issues and how yoga and mindfulness can help unravel these samskaras.

30th June

Theme 5 – Specific Conditions

Looking at the various digestive conditions from both medical and Ayurvedic perspectives, exploring which movement, meditative and other practices best support their relief. Including lifestyle issues, contributing factors from a naturopathic perspective and contraindications.

Theme 6 – Attitudes to Practice and Teaching

Bringing together the previous content into the physical & subtle practices of yoga, both for your own exploration and for teaching others. Awareness, listening, compassion & where fluidity meets containment - for responding to the true needs of the Gut-Brain Axis.

Each of the 4-hour sessions* will follow this timetable:

3-4.30pm – intro & discussion on first theme within this session; to pull out key facets of the pre-recorded presentation, reading and practice materials

4.30-4.45pm break

4.45-6pm - discussion on second theme within this session; as above

6-6.15pm break

6.15-7.30pm - you will be assigned a smaller break-out group to discuss your different experiences based around two questions of self-enquiry (given before) to cover the two themes for this session. This will be guided and monitored by Charlotte and her assistant who will bring the group back for a final round-up.

*note this is 4 hours contact time, with two 15 minute screen breaks on top

Attendance requirement and recording of live sessions

Attendance Live (80% minimum) is part of the course requirement as we are not meeting person for these sections. The live sessions are not recorded as we don’t believe it is ethical to record others voices and send out. These sessions need to remain a space where people feel they can speak freely and openly without any censoring that can occur when they are being recorded; particularly with the often personal and sensitive nature of the course content and discussion.

The only time live sessions are only recorded is for practices within eg if a 10 minute meditation is lead within a session, only that time will be recorded and a link sent on to the recording after.

This also follows the basis that if you were taking the course in person, you would not be allowed to miss any percentage of teaching time, but we do recognise that those who come to this course may be experiencing health issues, so there is leeway for time away from the screen and the group where needed. However, you are free to turn off video and audio at any time to be able to hear content but not to engage or look at a screen.

80% minimum attendance is only a bare minimum, not a suggestion, so only use this is you really need and do let course leaders and assistants (where appropriate) know of this by email just before the course start. To keep up the integrity of course standards, attendance will be noted and any home study you may need to make up advised.

Course assessment requirements:

In order to achieve certification you must opt in for the final assessment.

  • Written questions - you will be asked to submit 300-500 words for a question posed online for the first five themes of the course. These can include bullet-points, lists etc to help you learn and embed the material as you go along. You will receive model answers to these once you have completed them.
  • Final class plan - at the end of the course you have six weeks to submit a final assignment; to design a class based on what you have learned, which will be marked with teacher feedback.

Certification

Please note, a Certificate of Completion can only be issued to those who complete the final assessment and who successfully complete all elements of the course.

A maximum of one half-day can be missed for health reasons only, students must demonstrate the equivalent of 80% attendance to achieve certification.

Additional Resources

Students are recommended to purchase Charlotte's book Yoga Therapy for Digestive Health.

Who is the Course For?

Whilst this training is primarily aimed at yoga teachers and therapists, it is also open to experienced practitioners who wish to explore this area in more depth.

Yogacampus Diversity and Accessibility Bursary

We are offering one part-funded bursary (50% off the full course price) to a dedicated yoga student with a demonstrated financial need and active involvement in a community that could benefit from yoga.

The bursary is provided by Yogacampus – The Life Centre Education, a not-for-profit educational body committed to sharing knowledge and making yoga accessible to all.

Bursary places will be awarded to teachers or trainees who have the ability and commitment to take the course teachings into a disadvantaged community and play their part in the drive to increase accessibility to these profoundly healing practices.

Priority will be given to those who themselves are from marginalised or vulnerable groups or are from a minority ethnic background.

To apply, please fill in this google form before the deadline of 7 April. We look forward to hearing from you.

Notification of bursary acceptance will be sent out the following week.

Meet the Teacher

Charlotte attended her first yoga class in 1996 and immediately knew that it would be a large part of the route to overcoming her stress-related issues. She trained at the Vajrasati Yoga School in Brighton (500 hour Yoga Alliance training) founded by Jim Tarran who is influenced by Buddhism and brought a natural mindfulness aspect to practising yoga. This was the beginning of a relationship with yoga focusing on taking time and finding space to feel subtleties of the experience, energetics and responses within the practice and create full body awareness within postures.

Charlotte is an author with many published books, including Yoga Therapy for Digestive Health (Singing Dragon 2018), Good Mood Food (Nourish 2018) and The De-Stress Effect (2015). She is also an award-winning nutritionist, practising since 2000 and specialising in stress-related and fatigue conditions and burnout, and digestive issues.

Charlotte teaches classes in Brighton and London, workshops, UK yoga weekends and retreats abroad. She also runs courses and retreats specifically for yoga teachers to attend to their own self-care so they have the resources to support others.

She is assisted by Leonie Taylor (500 RYT).

Charlotte Watts Portrait

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