Mental Health Fundamentals: Essentials for Practice and Teaching Yoga

Gaining greater understanding and acceptance of the mind, and learning how to regulate our emotional responses, are key benefits that many of us seek from the mind-body practice of yoga. In this workshop we will raise awareness of the symptoms of common mental health conditions and explore how to adapt yoga practices and cuing instructions to create a safe and beneficial space for achieving these aims.

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Yoga philosophy and modern psychology share a great deal of similarity in seeking to understand the mind and human behaviour. Yoga and psychology agree that our thoughts, feelings and actions play a leading role in creating the conditions of our lives, and that they influence the quality of our lives. Both systems recognise there is an interplay between the environment and the individual, and that this interactive experience colours the perception of the person, creates the identity of the individual, and powerfully influences his/her worldview. Both systems differentiate between what can be called healthy and unhealthy or adaptive and disordered mental processes. Yoga and psychology also importantly share a belief that change is possible and that self-awareness is a necessary part of the process. Learning more about the yogic conception of the mind and its operation enables us to understand and accept ourselves better, and it provides us with effective tools to create desired changes in our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Increasingly yoga and mental health practitioners are turning to yoga to promote mental wellness and to reduce symptoms and conditions of mental disorder. The power of yoga practice to influence the mind and behaviour stems from application of all 8 limbs of yoga: conscious choice, the mind-body interaction, emotion-regulation through breath, mindful self-reflection, and enhanced powers of determination, concentration, and connection to something greater than ourselves.

We all came to yoga first as practitioners seeking to improve or enhance something in our lives. We stayed because it worked. That does not mean it solved every problem or made us perfect. In fact, we stay with the practice because we still need it.

Many of us, and many of our students quite consciously choose to practice yoga for our minds, including, but not limited to: 1) to help relieve stress, 2) to experience moments of freedom from anxiety and depression, 3) for health or unhealthy reasons driven by an eating disorder, 4) in order to substitute a healthy addiction for a self-destructive one, 5) to find a safe place to feel and to feel okay in our bodies to recover from a traumatic experience, and the list continues.

In this workshop, we will combine lecture to increase knowledge, discussion to incorporate diverse perspectives, and practice to make it immediately useful in your life. The purpose will be to provide yoga teachers, trainees, and therapists with:

1. Basic information about common mental health symptoms and conditions in order to increase awareness

2. An introduction to yoga psychology concepts and their practical application

3. Best practice recommendations for adapting yoga for individuals with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and who have experienced trauma

4. Awareness of the fundamental role of regulating the autonomic nervous system through yoga practice in order to reduce and prevent symptoms of distress and disorder

5. Principles and practices for teaching a trauma sensitive group yoga class, and how to incorporate these principles into all group classes

6. Scope of practice and how to expand your scope

7. Resources for guidance and referral when issues are beyond your scope – having your own sources to turn to

Lisa Kaley-Isley, PhD, E-RYT, C-IAYT

Lisa’s experience as a clinical psychologist, yoga teacher, yoga therapist, and yoga educator provides her with the expertise to guide teachers and therapists into awareness of the role yoga can play in helping reduce and manage symptoms of mental disorder and to promote mental wellness. Lisa’s depth of knowledge in psychology and yoga, and her decades of experience working therapeutically are the foundation from which she shares what she has found to be of benefit to her yoga students and clients.


You will receive a Yogacampus Certificate of Attendance eligible for CPD points.

What our students say

Surpassed all expectations! In addition to lively presentation on psychology and yoga and their interfaces, really practical and deep practices and explanations made a big impact on me personally. I expect to enjoy long term inspiration for my teaching and my life from the tools and insights I took away. Yogacampus Student on Yoga for Anxiety and Depression, October 2016

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