Foundations, Skills and Applications of the Therapeutic Wisdom of Yoga
This year’s training will continue with and reinforce the fundamental themes for working with yoga therapeutically to overcome pain problems — for oneself and for students. Additional themes will include specific and in-depth work with the knees, which will provide tools and insights into problems with the hips and feet.
The training is structured to help teachers understand more deeply the therapeutic rationale behind alignment and action instructions in yoga poses — and to know when these instructions are helpful and appropriate, and when variations or a different emphasis are necessary. The instructions are clear, specific and user-friendly, and backed up by knowledge of the anatomy involved in the movements as well as an understanding of the common therapeutic problems that bring students to yoga seeking help.
Beyond its usefulness in the classroom, the training is structured to give tools of assessment and sequencing for ‘mini-series’ of asanas and exercises for working individually with students on therapeutic problems. These ideas will also be helpful for sequencing larger classes or groups working with therapeutic problems in common.
The training has a high return rate for teachers seeking to reinforce what they have learned, and looking for new insights to add to what they know. Likewise, the training always proves to be very accessible to teachers and advancing students coming for the first time, seeking deeper insight into yoga, its rationale, and its benefits.
Sacroiliac Health: Understanding Pelvic, Low Back and Sciatic Pain
The key to understanding healthy movement as well as the root of much chronic pelvic and low back pain lies in understanding the rhythmic movement of the sacrum and the muscles which support it. When these muscles are not functioning properly, chronic low back and pelvic pain are often the result, and are tied to specific movement patterns that can be corrected through asana combined with specific exercises.
Last year we focused on the influence of the deepest muscles of the spine — the multifidi — which influence the movements of the sacrum, and are a central factor in sacroiliac and low back pain.
This year, we will build upon that, looking at the sheaths of fascia and muscles nested within them that profoundly influence low back health. At this point, research into low back pain is looking beyond trying to isolate factors in low back pain, such as individual muscles, and instead to the thoracolumbar fascia as a matrix of interrelated layers.
This has very concrete and practical implications for our understanding of asana and the dynamics of asana, with applications in all classes of asana. We will be reinforcing and building upon what was covered last year, expanding our understanding of low back health through asana.
This will include not just the health of the lumbar spine and sacroiliac joints, but will also include an exploration of sciatic pain, which radiates from the gluteals down through the leg and sometimes into the foot. It is one of our most ancient pain problems, appearing even in the literature of the Greeks, and is as prevalent today as low back pain.
Our treatment of this topic will include tools for assessment of postural and movement patterns, corrective exercises and sequencing, and related topics of sciatic pain and hip joint health. The principles for good practice will cover working effectively with the different classes of yoga poses.
The Lower Body, with Special Focus on the Knees
Knee health and knee problems is an especially important topic for active (and previously active) people, and yoga practice poses its own challenges and cautions. And knee health usually includes all of the major considerations of the lower body: the feet and health of the arches, including challenges such as bunions/hallux; plantar fasciitis, hamstring and quadriceps tightness or imbalance, the IT band and imbalances in the many muscles surrounding the hips, including the gluteals.
We’ll include assessment principles for the knees and knee problems, awareness of the most common kinds of knee problems and injuries, and principles for safe and helpful practice in yoga poses that will improve the condition of not only the knees, but the feet and hips as well.
This will also include introduction to self-care techniques relating the traditional marma system of Ayurveda with contemporary fascial understanding — which can be incorporated simply into practice, especially for people experiencing joint issues, neuropathy (numbness) and other common problems — for the knees, as well as for the hips and feet.
The Upper Body: Upper Back and Neck, and Their Effect Upon Shoulder Health
Neck and head alignment — and our own subtle habits in using our neck — have a great impact upon the health of our upper back and shoulders, and are the root of a great deal of our upper body pain. This includes jaw alignment and tension, as well as tension arising from postural shifts beginning in the lower body.
Yoga has plenty of principles for the head and neck, including bandha and mudra, that are related to the breath as well as asana, and which can be applied simply and effectively to address upper body pain problems, including neck stiffness and headache pain as well as breathing and functional disorders that affect our everyday health, including sleep.
The principles covered for working with the head and neck in asana and pranayama will naturally lead us into working with the shoulders, and seeing how these principles apply in all classes of asanas. This will take us further in our understanding of what we learn through postural and movement assessment, and the theme of the neck and shoulders will carry forward into Sunday.
Current research into the thoracolumbar fascia will also be brought into play, as well as self-care techniques related to marma.
From Hands to Heart: Spiraling into Shoulder Health through the Arms — and Cultivating Prana and Apana Vayu in the Actions of the Arms
Shoulder work in asana practice, with refined actions that spiral from the hands deep into the shoulders and heart, helps us to keep the shoulder joints aligned and free from damage and irritation, while maintaining the space of the upper body.
These are more than simply physical actions: the subtle and empowering energies of Prana and Apana Vayu — receiving and drawing in, balanced with letting go and expanding — can play a profound role in going deeper into these actions, especially when joined to the breath.
Shoulder ‘opening’ is usually treated through stretches emphasizing external rotation of the arms, and moreover they focus on the action of the arms at the shoulder joint itself. But practice of both internal as well as external rotation is vital for freedom in the shoulders, and these rotations can be practiced more organically as ‘spirals’ which flow from the hands and wrists up to the shoulders.
We will cover the most common forms of movement problems, injuries (rotator cuff, cartilage and ligament injury) and pain syndromes involving the shoulders, elbows and wrists together, and will work with exercises and asanas for improving the ‘spirals’ by which we achieve greater freedom of movement, support healing from injury, and freedom from pain.
This will include arm and shoulder actions as well as variations in arm and shoulder actions in the many classes of yoga poses, as well as remedial exercises for improving shoulder health. Pain assessment as well as principles for working with different levels of pain and injury will be included, especially with regard to rotator cuff injuries — and there will be important insights for working with scoliosis.
The emphasis is on simple actions that can be applied in the poses, as well as self-care exercises related to marma that can be incorporated into your practice, and used to maintain the benefits of practice. These practical actions will be threaded together through the theme of receiving, centering and expanding — Prana and Apana.
Some very important support materials are provided with the training to ensure that you can take in the information and work with it even when the training itself is over. An extensive illustrated manual is provided for you with the training, which includes the teaching points of the training, illustrated and in detail, with space for you to take notes as we go along. This reduces your stress from worrying about taking extensive notes, so that you can be fully present to experience what is being covered in the training.
The PowerPoint presentations used in the lectures, which follow the information in the manual, will also be available to you to download. You will be able to save them to your computer or tablet as high quality color documents for you to review whenever you wish.
High quality recordings of the lectures and practices will also be provided to you as a download upon request for a small additional fee, which you can use to go back and review your notes, as well as doing the asana and relaxation practices.
Each day, beginning on Friday, will begin with an asana practice that incorporates the ideas from the training, so that you will have an experiential example of how you can weave these ideas into your classes for the general benefit of your students — and introduce refreshingly new ideas for practice.
And each day will end with a deep yoga nidra practice — along with some explanation of the value and importance of the practice, as well as the fundamental principles (from early ‘laya’ forms of the practice) for guiding students simply and deeply into yoga nidra.
Doug is also running a 2-day therapeutic workshop on 3rd and 4th October entitled: Self-Care and Yoga: The Intersection Between Marma Therapy and Yoga, with Myofascial Foundations
You will receive a Yogacampus certificate of completion on full attendance of the course.
What our students say
I suffer from back pain and sometimes yoga makes it worse. But, when I practice with Doug Keller, I do all the poses and there's no pain! Annalisa Cardin on Wrist, Elbows and Shoulders: the Fabric of the 'Nadis' of the Arms and their Role in Asana and Mudra with Doug Keller, November 2016