Teaching Yoga for Stress and Burnout
Understand how to teach yoga in a way which is effective and appropriate to those with stressed body systems, suffering from burnout.
Stress is a major part of 21st century living, with the World Health Organization estimating that by 2020, stress-related disorders will be the second leading cause of disabilities in the world. This epidemic is an underlying cause of low energy, anxiety, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), loss of sex drive, insomnia, depression, tooth-grinding, high blood pressure, skin problems, infertility, weight gain and heart disease. Yoga and meditation practices offer a very real (and well-researched) method to allow heightened body systems to calm back down and teach individuals tools to self-soothe. The aim of yoga to ‘still the mind’ through body awareness and connection, intercepting the chattering monkey of the analytical left brain, so dominant in Western cultures.
Burnout is a term used to describe the emotional and physical collapse that can occur after long-term or chronic stress. At this point where the mind-body is on ‘constant alert’, teachers need to be able to guide students into a sense of safety and stillness so that they can notice and be with intense sensations without exacerbating reactive tendencies.
This course will explore how psycho-social stress – the ‘neck-up’, ruminating stress we tend to get stuck in in modern societies – can affect people and how the modern body needs special consideration for the way the average student lives their lives. You will understand how to teach yoga in a way which is effective, gentle and appropriate to the individual with stressed body systems, their particular responses, energetics, mind-sets and postural considerations. Grounding, mindful and somatic work will be explored to help you promote healing, energy and positive change in your teaching.
The themes in these days will be woven throughout the entire course, both in discussion and experientially.
The physiology of stress:
- Explanations of psycho-social stress; the different levels of stress – ‘normal’ stress through to burnout and adrenal fatigue
- Physical effects of stress, how this affects asana – and how to gauge levels
- Emotional and psychological effects of stress and how this affects attention, reactions, control issues etc
Stress within yoga therapy:
- The yoga model of healing with an overview of prana and how practices can help energy flow freely
- Guidance for teachers on how to direct students in understanding the spiritual relevance of yoga and their illness
- Where the latest neuro-scientific research fits in with the ‘stilling the mind’ effects of yoga, mindfulness and meditation
- What ‘resilience’ means in relation to yoga and compassion; how mindfulness within our practice helps to cultivate this equanimity and ‘grace under pressure’ in those reactive to stress
The experience of the student with chronic stress, adrenal fatigue and burnout:
- How it feels to move and experience asana and attention with pain, intense emotional reactions
- The effects of trauma (shock and developmental) on the primal body, how this can manifest and how it needs to be approached to prevent relapse
- The importance of identity – how the teacher can help the student not attach to the identity of suffering in chronic illnesses
Considerations of teaching to students with mind-body stress:
- The necessity of compassion (ahimsa and karuna) and deep listening within our practice, our own bodies and our world, to be able to work with people’s needs on an individual level
- Working with the yamas and the gunas as guides for working with chronically heightened energy and mind-sets
- Unhelpful samskaras in stress and the modern world; examination of personality types, how this can work against recovery and how yoga can help
- Teaching language; using mindfulness, creativity and compassion to encourage practice with a soft mind and body – with humour to release and create a positive sensory experience
Stress in the physical body:
- How the stressed and fatigued body feels; helping the teacher to understand the particular sensations, reactions and barriers that arise
- Mindfulness (and within physical practice) to help ‘anchor in the moment’, ‘pacing’ and the ‘doing less-is-more’ approach
- Why we need to ‘be’ and not ‘do’; right effort, effortless effort and aparigraha, asteya and santosha over ambition and achieving. Treating the body as a friend
- Common stress-induced breath patterns and how to allow change without creating further stress; observing key stress breath signs and how to respond
- Belly connection; centring and moving from the hara for reconnecting. Body fluidity and neuroplasticity and how stress can create hardening, viscosity and lack of adaptation
- Skull-sacrum polarity to free mind-body flow, open the yin cooling base of the brain and encourage easy communication between cranium and pelvis for nervous system regulation and self-soothing abilities
Specific therapeutic yoga tools:
- Recognising that our culture continually consumes and ‘fills up.’ Understanding how yoga can provide a space for emptying out, releasing and letting go.
- The role of sound and vibration within a healing practice, how this can be simply woven within asana to allow the breath to release – and as a formal part of teaching.
- Exploration of counting own breath pace, mantra etc to still the chatter of the left brain.
- The difficulties of meditation for the stressed and how to hold, guide and facilitate; the internally critical tendencies of those with heightened stress responses – thanking the negative voices!
Yoga Therapy Diploma Elective Hours
Please note that this workshop counts towards elective hours on the Yoga Therapy Diploma.
VIDEO: Surrendering to Spaciousness
The following clip is an extract from the teachings on the Teaching Yoga for Stress & Burnout course.
Drawings are courtesy of Sam from Cartoon Communications. http://www.cartooncommunications.com/
Download: and read the full version of the comic here!
You have the option to attend this 3 day (21 hour) Specialist Training in Yoga for Stress & Burnout and receive a certificate of attendance (eligible for CPD points) or, complete the follow up to this course, Teaching Yoga for ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to accredit you with a 42 Hour Specialist Training Certificate in Yoga for Stress, Burnout, Me and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In order to qualify, both courses must be attended in full and ensure satisfactory completion of all course work following the training.
Course Work details:
Designing a class plan
Written reflective piece
Due one month after completion of final training weekend
More detailed course work instructions will be included in the booking confirmation email you receive (Joining Instructions).
Teaching Yoga for ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome will run in London between Friday 6th to Sunday 8th July 2018. See more details here.
What our students say
Two fascinating knowledgeable teachers and a deep, well-rounded course that has provided me with new tools to my practice and teaching. Fern Ross on Teaching Yoga for Stress and Burnout, April 2016