Teaching Yoga for Immune and Respiratory Health

Learn the nature of breath in relation to our natural defences and how it contributes to the health of our immune and respiratory systems, as well as understanding how to design practices to support their optimal function. This course takes you through the functions of the immune and respiratory systems and how they orchestrate in the body with each other (and other body systems) and is accompanied by Charlotte’s book Yoga and Somatics for Immune and Respiratory Health (Singing Dragon 2022).

Immune and Respiratory Health

What will be covered in this course?

The relationship between our immunity and how safe or unsafe we feel is tied into our breath, which becomes faster and shallower when we enter protective modes. Healing becomes compromised when we are get stuck in heightened stress responses - we cannot be in survival and growth at the same time.

Understanding how our immune system shapes our boundaries between the outside world and our internal landscape is key to supporting it, so it can respond to perceived threat and danger. Our respiratory system has a similar response to the internal and external; constantly taking in nourishment through the inhalation and releasing that which does not serve us through the exhalation. These two systems are intrinsically linked in our function and health, and how we relate to the world around us.

Over three 4-hour online sessions (3 weeks apart, exploring 6 themes
) we will explore the immune and respiratory systems and how they relate to movement, embodied awareness and self-compassion. We will also explore a range of practices incorporating movement, meditation and breath to develop a sound understanding of how to structure effective sequences. Charlotte’s book Yoga and Somatics for Immune and Respiratory 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 both video and audio format (self-study) for you to refer back to.
  • A pre-recorded physical practice to support respiratory and immune health in different planes and with a different relationship to gravity, presence and self – 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 and Somatics for Immune and Respiratory 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.

23rd June

Theme 1 - Healthy defences

Presentation focus: Supporting our boundaries and breath – the territory. The mouth, nose and throat as gateway for immune defence. The rhythm of the breath and its anatomy.

Physical practice: Loosening and Somatic - grounding, self-regulation and recognising boundaries

Supportive practice: Mindfulness of breathing practices

Theme 2 - Stress and Inflammation

Presentation focus: The autonomic nervous system in relation to breath and immunity; how inflammation is part of chronic stress patterns. How stress responses upset polarity and balance; how yoga can help restore these for immune and respiratory health.

Physical practice: Twisting and Undulating - for diaphragmatic movement, fascial release and lymphatic movement

Supportive practice: Cooling Heightened Responses - three stress-reducing practices; embodiment & release

7th July

Theme 3 - Fluid Adaptation

Presentation focus: How bodily fluids and fascia are part of the whole orchestration of breath and immunity. Connections of the vagus nerve and nasal breathing on adaptive regulation and responses.

Physical practice: Lunging, Stepping and Squatting – basic, primal patterns for optimal breath and immunity that support how we rise up from ankles, knees and hips to support the upper body

Supportive practice: Heart-based Mudra meditations

Theme 4 - Mindful Boundaries

Presentation focus: Appropriate containment for body fluids and our sense of cohesion, safety and a home to breathe fully. Clear distinction between our internal and external worlds that is part of boundaries and self-protection.

Physical practice: Standing into Full Breathing and Protective Support - full groundedness and relation to gravity for mobilising breath, fluid flow through all systems and self-protection through awareness

Supportive practice: Body Scan & Autogenic Release

21st July

Theme 5 - Embodied Awareness

Presentation focus: How to support body self-regulation and homeostasis with interoception; tuning in and kind attention. Focus on the flow of prana and the vayus for movement of the breath body and immune fluids. How active relaxation and natural autonomic release support these aspects.

Physical practice: Rest and Recovery - consciously coming into full restorative modes for the space for breath and healing

Supportive practice: Traditional pranayama practices

Theme 6 - Good Vibrations

Presentation focus: The mouth and throat as entry – health and softening as key to breath and immunity. How sound and mantra can support respiratory and immune health through vibration and support of tissues in the throat and mouth as first defence and gateway to the vitality of the breath.

Physical practice: Bringing it all together – a full sequence incorporating all of the aspects above, with sounding including

Supportive practice: Sounding and simple mantra

Course Assessment Requirements:

  • 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.

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.

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.

Certification

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

You will be given the option to sign up for the final assessment during the final part of the course and so you will not need to make the decision about whether to do it until you have completed the majority 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

In the following interview with Yogacampus, Charlotte shares some invaluable information on how to regulate our immune health through soothing our nervous system and the science behind how that is related to being connected to others.

Click here to watch

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 12 May. 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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