Mental Health Basics for Yoga Teachers

A weekend primer on the most important things for yoga teachers to know about mental health concerns when teaching group yoga classes.

Course Information


The word is spreading that yoga can help with a wide variety of mind-body conditions and the number of people trying yoga for what ails them is increasingly exponentially. Yoga teachers are thus challenged to expand their knowledge and skills in order to be the teacher their students need them to be. The cycle of growth where student becomes teacher, and teacher continues to be a student, is how we make this a life long learning path. Fortunately yoga has so very much to offer us! To grow your awareness of how to teach students with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and who have experienced trauma in their lives, join your peers and me for this introductory overview course.

Over the course of 2 days, topics that will be covered include:

•Yoga’s ability to impact the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is a key element in its ability to help yogis regulate emotional states. It also provides the guide for how to choose and sequence practice elements to achieve intended mental/emotional effects. We’ll discuss how the ANS works for you to know and to be able to explain it to your students. Knowledge is power and it provides us with the information we need to choose well.

•Yoga is ultimately concerned with empowerment of the individual to know their own truth and walk their own path. Reconnecting with inner wisdom and guidance, and distinguishing it from the self-critical inner voice, builds the link to knowing both our truth and path more clearly and confidently. Teaching language that guides students to listen to their own bodies and needs is vital to reconnecting them with this inner wisdom.

•Not everything is right for everyone, and not all yoga is therapeutic. In fact, some language cues, poses, breathing practices, and visualisation elements can be harmful for our students. It is only therapeutic if it is beneficial for the individual. We’ll talk about common contraindications to increase awareness and provide options for teaching people with mental health conditions.

Saturday
• Autonomic nervous system and yoga conceptual models to guide practice choices.
• Symptoms of anxiety and depression that yoga practice can influence

Sunday
• Symptoms of eating disorders and trauma that lead to discomfort in class and that yoga practice can influence
• Practices to regulate mind and emotions and to make rest and meditation more accessible

By attending this training, you can expect to be provided as a teacher with information and support. Yoga’s 3 paths are knowledge, action, and service. We are only whole when we incorporate all three. We all chose to be teachers in order to share with others what we have found beneficial ourselves. Then we walk this path long enough to realise that we don’t all benefit from the same things, that our needs change, and that growing means expanding our capacity and comfort zones.

This workshop is intended to give you the information and tools you need to expand your ability to be an effective teacher of service to your students and yourself.

Suggested outline for the day:

10:00 Introduction and overview
10:30 Practice
11:45 Tea breaks
12:00 Lecture and practice
13:00 Lunch break
14:00 Guided relaxation to digest
14:30 Lecture and practice
15:45 Tea break
16:00 Integrated practice and practice guidance
17:00 Closing

What our students say

I have really enjoyed the course, mostly the physical practices and integrating asana and pranayama (with retentions) together. Something I’ll practice myself and likely introduce into my teaching. It has re-inspired my interest in this type of yoga Jane Robertson on Mental Health Basics, August 2015

Course Information