The Therapeutic Wisdom of Yoga: Rewriting the Story of Our Health and Growth

This 5-day Intensive covers pain problems arising from alignment and movement patterns in all areas of the body — both as they arise in everyday life and in yoga practice.

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This 5-day Intensive covers pain problems arising from alignment and movement patterns in all areas of the body — both as they arise in everyday life and in yoga practice. We do this from a fascial as well as musculo-skeletal perspective, relating it to the Prana model of yogic health from the yoga — and in particular, Hatha Yoga — tradition, bringing together contemporary findings with yogic models. This allows us to include attention to the role of the breath as well as mind and emotion on many levels, and to explore how to make the most of our practices of asana, pranayama, meditation and yoga nidra.

Each day covers topics in specific areas of the body, providing principles for movement and action, as well as remedial work and variations on traditional alignments to bring greater integrity to the body and to relieve typical pain patterns. The work includes learning tools for assessment for posture and movement as well as treatment of sequencing of poses — for more effective practice in class, and for individual work with more acute pain patterns.

Some key themes for this Intensive will be: Foundations: Sacrum, Head and Feet — Starting with Sacral Rhythm and Low Back Health.

Physical practice is often approached in terms of ‘foundations’ — most often in terms of the feet. A guiding theme in the training will be the relevance of attending to a number of ‘foundations’ for practice, starting with the sacrum, and then relating sacral rhythm to the foundations of the neck and feet.

At the centre of all movement lies the sacrum, the keystone of the pelvis, which regulates the curve of the spine as well as the ‘openness’ and flexibility of the hips. Much of yoga has focused on the suggested actions of the tailbone — even in describing ‘Mula Bandha’ — but has given little attention to the natural actions of the sacrum. This leaves the ‘tail’ wagging the ‘dog.’

The training will begin with going deeply into the details of understanding Sacroiliac, Pelvic and Low Back Pain, in terms of sacral stability and the rhythms of its movement in the sacroiliac joint. This will be in the context of the issue of pelvic pain and related low back pain, especially in connection with issues concerning the ‘Core.’ It will include concerns of pain problems stemming from scoliosis, the ‘shorter leg syndrome’ as well as postural imbalances (and tools of evaluation and assessment).

The practical emphasis will be on some simple actions to be incorporated into asana practice that will strengthen the muscles supporting the actions of the sacrum, increasing the stability of the sacroiliac joint as well as the health of the low back and flexibility of the hips.

In this context, we will go much more deeply into the vital role of the breath, particularly in relation to pelvic and back pain, and how asana practice can be used to address breathing pattern disorders and fascial blocks that give rise to them.

This leads directly into the next theme: Breath, Asana and the ‘Core’.

Most asanas involve an element of a twist, and for good reason: this is part of working the ‘Core’ in a way that frees the neck and shoulders, and connects to the lower body and sacrum, enhancing freedom in movement. The breath is part of this, and is key to the connection between upper and lower body via the ribs. Sacral rhythm — depends upon this, and neck and shoulder health are intimately tied to our breathing patterns as well.

Asana practice is an opportunity to explore vital ‘Core’ actions in twisting, as well as to use the arm and neck actions in the poses to deepen our experience of the breath. The ‘Ujjayi’ breath is at the centre of healthy diaphragmatic breathing in the poses, but the actions of the neck and shoulders are crucial to doing it well.

Getting ‘Unstuck’ — Prana Blocks and Fascial Distortions, and How to Work With (And Through) Blocks in Your Practice. This theme will relate the hatha yogic concept of pranic ‘blocks’ — physical as well as energetic and emotional — to contemporary work on the the level of fascia. We’ll consider some of the newest therapeutic insights in contemporary thought, which understand the cause of much of our chronic pain as arising from ‘distortions’ in the fascia, a specific form of the connective tissue in our body.

These distortions help to explain (and provide an approach to overcoming) not only pains that arise in everyday life, but also yoga injuries and pain caused by imbalances in yoga practice — as well as other disciplines of physical movement and sport — that gives rise to or intensifies these distortions. This perspective on pain is described as the ‘Fascial Distortion Model.’

This will be especially helpful for understanding ‘yoga injuries’ as well as the type of pain complaints that arise with students entering yoga as they begin to move outside of their ordinary boundaries of movement. It will be especially relevant to neck and shoulder pain, and so a good deal of consideration will be given to this area of the body.

Connections will be drawn to the ‘Marma Therapy’ approach used in Ayurveda, as well as the role of Marma in hatha and laya yoga, which is much subtler.

Better Breathing in Asana, Pranayama and Relaxation

The two most fundamental patterns in our lives for maintaining our health are our breathing patterns and our sleep patterns. And these are the two patterns that are the most disordered and dysfunctional in our lives, and with enormous impact on our health.

We will explore ‘openers’ for cultivating space for the breath, as well as toning exercises related to the bandhas for sustaining better breathing patterns. This will include awareness of patterns and tendencies that work against the natural cycle of the breath, such as habits of being ‘stuck’ on the inbreath, or ‘stuck’ on the out breath — and the consequences of these patterns.

Some fundamental pranayamas will be practiced with this awareness of cultivating the space for receiving the breath, and comfort with ‘letting go’ of the outbreath.

The practice will be carried further into yoga nidra, with some discussion of the significance of the practice of yoga nidra in relationship to our sleep patterns. Starting from an exploration of the benefits and function of sleep and the relationship of healthy breathing patterns to sleep, we will explore the approach to yoga nidra as essential to the deeper aspects of yoga practice, including meditation. Our approach will link the processes associated with Kundalini and the essential processes that take place in deep relaxation, especially when facilitated by focused practice.

Insights into — and to be learned from — Scoliosis

The theme of spinal health will include an understanding of the asymmetries — side-bends and rotations of the spine that affect the rib cage, neck and shoulders — that are typical of scoliosis and which are also present to a much lesser degree in many of us who do not have scoliosis, but experience pain and difficulties from more subtle versions of these asymmetries.
This will include practical tools for making assessments, along with tools of practice that can be taught to students so that they can learn to be self-correcting, throughout the day as well as in their asana and breath practice.

Doug is also running a 2-day therapeutic workshop on 5th and 6th October entitled: Pranayama is more than the Breath.


You will receive a Yogacampus certificate of completion on full attendance of the course.

What our students say

Absolutely excellent! Lots of eye opening experiences and generosity in sharing Doug's vast knowledge and expertise! Yogacampus Student 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

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