Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Clearing Confusion about Yoga Teachers and Yoga Therapist.

Hello Dear Yogi's, As yoga explodes in the West and around the globe the confusion grows. One administrator at Yoga Alliance once told me "It's the Wild West of Yoga these days!". That it is.

As with anything, especially in the West, if it becomes popular then it will become capitalized on for people to make money. Money is not evil but often brings out the worst in us. Even ethical people have a hard time keeping up and being competitive when they have made yoga their living.

Yoga is vast and varies greatly from lineage to lineage. The National Institute on Health now recognizes yoga as a healing modality. So how does one determine what type of yoga to take or who to see?  Is a hot vinyasa yoga class as healing as a private yoga therapy session with a certified yoga therapist? It depends on who you are and what you need.

Here I will try to clear up a bit about the difference in a yoga teacher and a yoga therapist.

In the U.S. yoga is not regulated. In some states yoga schools are regulated but yoga teachers are not. That means anyone can teach yoga, with or without training. Most reputable providers now recognize at minimum a 200 hour Registration with Yoga Alliance as the minimum to teach yoga. This means the teacher has had a basic teacher training with two hundred hours of training. A 500 hour registration means the teacher has had 500 total hours of training. A certified yoga therapist (C-IAYT) has at minimum one thousand hours of training.
A yoga teacher can provide yoga that is therapeutic in nature. Many styles and types of yoga can be therapeutic as they can be mentally, physically and emotionally balancing. A yoga teacher can provide private yoga classes and small group yoga that has a goal of providing a better quality of life for the student.

Then what is a Yoga Therapist?

Some two hundred and three hundred (three hundred was once called five hundred because you add the hours together) schools are training people and saying they will be yoga therapist but they are not accredited with the International Association of Yoga Therapist or IAYT so they cannot apply for the C-IAYT credential.  There is a big difference in being a member school and an accredited school. Accreditation means the school went through a rigorous process to achieve accreditation and was approved by IAYT. A member school simply pays a fee to be affiliated with IAYT.

However, teachers who graduate from those 200 or 300 hour schools may have training with a yoga therapy emphasis. I myself have a 500 hour program that is holistic in nature and teaches yoga teachers to work one on one and with individuals and in small groups in way that promotes safety and health and overall quality of life. I train many medical professionals to utilize yoga in their practice from doctors, social workers, psychologist, nurses, occupational therapist and more. I do train people to assess, work and provide private individualized instruction to address the needs of the client.  However, Yoga Alliance will not allow me or anyone else to call a 300/500 hour program a Yoga Therapy school under YA accreditation. There is a lot of confusion on this because a 500 hour program just a few years ago was the highest credential in our field (though there were some programs out there offering yoga therapy until a few years ago there was no accreditation program).
IAYT is the credentialing source for Yoga Therapy Schools that want to offer an accredited program as a yoga therapist, this requires a total of 1000 hours of training, with at least 800 hours in the field of yoga therapy.

So what to do and how to know what credentials you need if you are wanting to provide yoga therapy and what if you want to be the recipient of yoga therapy?

If you are a yoga teacher and you want to work with people in a way that provides overall health and quality of life lets talk about how to do that ethically. Get training in the area you want to work. Lets say you want to work one one with students and keep them safe providing physical and mental balance. Then I would recommend saying something like "Jane Doe: 200 hour teacher providing classes and individual yoga sessions in the are of Trauma Informed Yoga" , assuming you had training in that area, or you might say "I work one on one with individuals to improve the quality of their life using yoga as a therapeutic modality".
How would that differ in what a Certified Yoga Therapist might say? "Courtney Butler: Certified Yoga Therapist working one on one with students offering yoga therapy." I could go on to say what specific areas I work with or put a link to my bio which gives my overall training and credentials.

Simply put as a yoga teacher or therapist only advertise what you are capable of and what you have been trained to do. Always be honest and ethical with a clear intent.

If you are a student wanting yoga therapy then you need to determine your needs. If you have run of the mill stress, anxiety and need to get in better shape but you are not limited by what you can do then you would be fine to find a "well trained" yoga teacher to take classes in a group or one on one. You should ask questions to find out their experience and what the class will look like. Let's say you are suffering from depression and want counseling but also would like someone to incorporate yoga. Many social workers are now being trained to incorporate yoga into their counseling practices.

If you are a person who has illness and has been limited by your doctor on what you can and cannot do then I would suggest you see a C-IAYT or someone with a medical background specific to your needs and yoga training. The International Association of Yoga Therapist has strict guidelines for what C-IAYT's must know and how much experience they have to have. For instance I was grandfathered in but had to provide at minimum ten years of documented experience in my field working one on one. I had to provide documentation of my training in the field of yoga therapy (I had over the 1000 hours) as well and had to be a registered yoga teacher (actively working) for over ten years (for me it was seventeen). Each grandfathered in teacher (only before summer of 2018, this is no longer available) had to prove competency. From this point out each C-IAYT needs to take an additional 800 hours of training on top of a 200 hour RYT to become a Certified Yoga Therapist with an accredited school.

As the field of yoga therapy grows IAYT leads the way in providing the highest standards. It is very likely in the near future yoga therapy will be much like chiropractic care and acupuncture and you will see yoga therapy offices that accept insurance. Those yoga therapist will likely be regulated in the future and will all hold a C-IAYT credential.

In closing, a yoga teacher with proper training can offer a class or a private session to help with many of life's challenges. If you have any type of disease, illness, bone weakness, neurological issues and your doctor or medical provide has recommended you try yoga therapy it would be good to look into someone who either has specific training in yoga and a related medical background or holds the C-IAYT credential. For instance I often train social workers, these folks are more than capable of helping using yoga and meditation techniques to deal with depression and anxiety. I am often sent clients though psychiatrist or neurologist with neurological issues they have not been able to resolve, I work daily with diabetics, cardiovascular patients, and those with cancer. If I am not available to work one on one with someone I will often find a qualified yoga teacher with a complimentary background or specialized training to help them or recommend another yoga therapist.

At the end of the day the responsibility lies on the student or client to do their research and homework and find the person they feel comfortable working with. 

Courtney Butler Robinson
Stress Managment Specialist with the Dr. Dean Ornish Reversal Program
RYS 200, RYS 300/500
Author of "The Mud & The Lotus: A Guide and Workbook for Students of Yoga"

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Dealing with lack of support, distractions in the classroom and encouraging diversity.

So I put out on the Internet to yoga teachers, students and yoga business folks to please share with me your biggest struggle and frustrations as well as what motivates you. A dear teacher friend sent me her answers. 
What was frustrating and a bit of a struggle came in two areas.

1. Feeling frustrated when people treat your work like a hobby or a luxury. 

As yoga teachers we know that most of us have gone to school for quite some time, worked and studied really hard to get to where we are and when we get out of school it's just the beginning. Then we have to figure out how to get students to our classes. Some people have had to make the choice to live a simpler life and give up some of life's extravagances in order to teach. We often run to and from job to job just to have enough clients. We sometimes open up our homes and invite people in to give back what has helped us. It is only natural that it would hurt when people make comments that it must be nice to "be able to just teach yoga". Ugh.. 

What I have found is that there will always be those who are either ignorant to what it takes to be good at our craft or maybe they are jealous or sometimes just down right nasty. Most of the time what I have found is it's best to try not to engage, it never is worth it anyway. I have found these things help. 

1. Rather than try to defend, be yourself, do your thing, and when you are with people who don't understand you try to talk about something else. I know this can sometimes be people we are close to and they ask about your life and you don't want to go there. It's also hard when you want people to be supportive and they think you are wasting time or money. Just keep doing you and try to not go down that road. We have to make ourselves happy and not live for other people. 

2. Find people you support you. Talk to other yoga students, teachers, and friends who get you. It's important to have this support so you don't feel alone. When you feel alone or lonely or wonder if you are wasting your time (been there) call your supporters. 

2. Struggles with people who disrupt class. 
Set the tone before class by getting the room the way you want it. Do you want a quieter style class, have soft music, low lights (maybe twinkle lights) and a calming atmosphere and speak in a quite calm voice. If you want a more upbeat class, have the lights at a comfortable level for the practice, or low is fine, however your beats per minute on the music or your play list  may need to be a bit more upbeat. If you want a calm class but the ability to feel like a person can ask questions then give permission language before and after class. Such as "If you have a question please raise your hand or simply ask me to come over".

1. Hand out a sheet with "What to expect or yoga etiquette to new students". They would appreciate it and it will save you some headaches, cover distractions like when it's okay to talk, coming in late, leaving early, body odor, phones etc.. A little planning saves a lot of headaches. 

2. One of my teachers always says "relax your lips" to those that feel they need to be chatty during class while others are trying to focus. This one always works. 

3. When nothing works have a gentle talk with the person and explain your issues as kindly as possible. Sometime they will understand and other times they won't and they won't come back but that may be best. 

3. Motivated to get a diverse group of people or a certain population to class. 
This teacher I was referring to was motivated because she reached out to size 14 and over women to get them to yoga. I need to ask her how she did that, so "L' if you are reading this please give me that info. I
f you want to attract a certain group of people here is what I suggest.

1. In your marketing material reflect pictures of the type of people you want to attract. If you want to reach out to curvy full figured women then put pictures of those type of women in class. 

2. If you want to offer classes that are not intimidating to beginners post pictures of all shapes and sizes doing common postures that are easily accessible to a wide group of people. 

3. People need to see people that look like them to some degree. If you are African American and you want to reach that population put pictures of yourself on the material and or other people of color doing yoga. Also find those populations and start offering those classes in places you will be able to easily reach those populations. 

Thank you "L" for your comments. I so appreciate them!

Love and Light,

Friday, February 2, 2018

Research to help yoga students, teachers, business owners.

Hi friends. I'm doing some research and would appreciate your help. Yoga students, yoga business owners, teachers, school owners, studio owners, would you please share with me by emailing me at cdb120@gmail.com. Please let me know if you don't want me to share your name.
I'll answer those questions in my blog/vlog and get back to you. Thank you so much!

Please answer these questions: 
What is your biggest frustration? 

What is your biggest struggle?
What is your motivation for practicing, teaching, owning a business etc...?

Thank you all!
Courtney Butler Robinson

Certified Solution Focused Coach

Stress Management Specialist

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Why I wrote this book

Are you a yoga student thinking of becoming a teacher?
Are you wanting to understand more about yoga?
Do you have a yoga school or want to own one?
Are you a yoga studio owner or administrator of a yoga program?
Are you a yoga teacher that has many questions concerning business, keeping students and dealing with burnout?
Have you gone through training and feel you still need support?

This book is for you.
It is available
 at https://www.amazon.com/Mud-Lotus-Guide-Workbook-Students/dp/194452892X
and Etaliapress.com
I guarantee this book can save you the cost of the book in dollars or stress.
I love to help teachers, individuals and business owners.

Please see my website for more info on my bio.
Consulting starts at $75 an hour and is done via Skype, email or phone.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Struggle with The Struggle

The older I get I believe that so many things in this world are not black and white, however there are things I do believe are clearer than others. Be kind and most people will be kind back, however not everyone will be kind. Make good choices and work hard and there is a pretty good chance you will have a productive life and be able to care for yourself. These things are pretty certain, yet life happens and things happen and we are "human", humans make mistakes. It only takes one bad choice to derail an otherwise productive life. Yet we can, with connection get back on track.

I have come to believe in my nearly five decades on earth that we are the physical manifestation of source energy, or God, or spirit, on earth. We are the extension of God's energy on earth, therefore we have the spirit of God in us. I may be wrong, this is only my perception from practice and life. We are however like clay and even the Bible uses the example of Jesus being a potter. Isaiah 54:8 says that Jesus,  who was a psychical manifestation of God is the potter and we are the clay.  My belief is that there is one God for "all" people and he is shaping and molding us. This is not a religious post by any means but one that is here to express that we are source energy and we can connect to source energy, the love of the God of your understanding,  through meditation, contemplation and love.

When we feel good and right and at our highest self we are likely connected to source. When we feel needy, tired, hungry, sad that is our humanness being molded by the potter. When bad things happen, when people say and do mean things that is the pressure of the world and how we respond is the action of the way we allow source to mold us. How we respond is what comes out when we are put under pressure much like squeezing a sponge.

I told my dear friend the other day "I struggle with the struggle". When someone does something and I feel it's hurtful to me I want so bad to be able to be the example of grace and love but I don't always know how. I actually do feel hurt, sad and at times broken by another persons actions. It is not their action but my reaction that shapes me, I know this and yet it's still hard. My belief is that our humanness is the experience of all of those feelings we have here on earth, and those feelings are the school house, the learning area to navigate life to make us smarter, kinder, wiser spirit filled people. What if all those things, those perceived bad things are exactly what is suppose to be happening? I had a situation recently that hurt very badly and I heard this in my soul "Everything is happening the way it is suppose to Courtney"... So I got that what was happening may seem bad, but it is for the greater good. Now I do not believe all bad things that happen are for good but I do believe source can take the hardships, the pressure and make something good out of it, mold us. Maybe that is when we take our bad and hurtful experiences and help others.

So when you are sad, when you are lonely, depressed or generally in a really bad place in life. Be still. Close your eyes, turn your palms up and simply observe. Observe the messages in your life. Connect through your breath to your body, this is the highway between the mind and the body, this is fastest way to connect to God, and God is always in the present moment. Source is here, right now, right here. Listen inwardly,  you are not your thoughts, you can change your thoughts, you are not your name, your job, you status, your place in the family, you are simply an extension of the great "I am" and when you stop and connect that energy will guide you. Ask the questions "What do I need?", "What would you have me do?", "What is right?", "Should I respond or be silent?" Then listen in your gut, literally you will feel it. If the answer you get feels "good" that is source, if you feel bad, sad , guilty that is not. Sift through it and when you know with certainty how to respond then do so. It's okay to set boundaries with people, and mean what you say without being mean. It's okay also to be silent until you know what you need to do. You are not wrong or right, you are simply a student of life.

Be open and allow source to flow through you. Source, The God of your understanding, only has your highest good in mind at all times. Listen and be open and you will see it, you will start to see, it will show up in your life once you become aware. You become aware by going to that still quite place inside.

Love and Light,

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD : Coaching and Yoga Therapy as Healing Salve

"Follow the Sun by Xavier Rudd a song I listen to when I need inspiration."

I do not know if this is true in research or what the data (feel certain it is)  is but I do know from first hand knowledge. Depression and anxiety are often triggered by trauma. I know this all to well from my many bouts of months and years of  dealing with this myself.

No matter how smart, savvy, self care knowledgeable we are. No matter our credentials,  degrees or the level of comfort in which we live, no one is immune to pain and heartache. Some people get more than their fair share and some people get less.  I have never met anyone that has not experienced it. Sometimes I wonder if it is a prerequisite for spiritual growth.

The past two and a half years I have been writing a manual, book, textbook, semi self help book about yoga and during that time I have been hit with a major bout of PTSD. I was diagnosed at the age of 19 with PTSD by a therapist after I had a still born baby. The PTSD was not only from the loss of my child but also from trauma I had sustained growing up. Most of us have some sort of trauma at some time in our life, some of course much worse than others. I don't know anyone who has not endured some severe pain or loss.

At the age of 46 the one thing I have going for me is perspective. Yesterday one of my senior students commented to me that "You are always so happy.", which my response was "Oh I have my stuff but when I show up for work I am here for you not me.". And that is true, when I show up to work it's not about me, I have to flip the switch and be there for them. And that is not always so easy. This year I was thrown into a major post traumatic episode with a family member who I dearly love, but who is suffering severe trauma and substance abuse issues. Many old memories and pains came to the surface and before I knew it I was in my own full blown depression once again. So what do to do? The only things I knew how to do are more of what I teach as a yoga therapist and Solution Focused Coach:  yoga, meditation, and hardcore radical self care. It is the only thing I know that remotely  makes life bearable during a depressive, anxious, period. I say period because you can't "will" yourself out of this, it has to take it's time.

So here is an example of how I cope and what I do. It is much like taking an aspirin. It temporarily takes the pain and makes it bearable. Then over time you heal and can manage on a more balanced level.
During normal times when I am not going through an episode I do all of these things, during a painful period I up it as much as possible.

1. See a therapist, it's helpful to have a non biased person to speak to that you can trust.
2. Go to Alanon or AA, or any 12 step meeting, support group if that is relative. Find a sponsor if that is relative to your situation.
3. Go to gentle yoga classes that are balanced by a qualified teacher.
4. Meditate. I use Insight Timer, and I use daily meditation books like "Journey to the Heart", or simply sit quietly and observe your thoughts without attachment.
5. Have a mantra that you say anytime you feel yourself going into the uncontrollable crying. Mine are "I am Brave", "I am whole", "I am worthy". Write it down and post it so you can see it.
6. Walk, exercise.
7. Go outside in nature and connect. It helps to watch animals and realize that life goes on outside of our heads.
8. Have a gratitude list. You need to write it down, it makes a difference.
9. Feed yourself nutritious food.
10. Get adequate sleep.
11. Talk to a friend you can trust.
12. Have a calendar with self care appointments. I know that each day I have one of these things :yoga, an Alanon meeting, a date with myself at the gym, or dinner with a friend. I plan each day with something to refocus and get out of the loop in my brain.
13. Take it one day at a time. One hour, one minute. Just get through the day. You don't have to figure out the future.
14. Say the "Serenity Prayer" often.
15. Get yourself cleaned up and look your best. At all cost do not look pitiful. It makes you feel pitiful.

We are all imperfectly perfect human beings. All experiencing this life as one big school house, I am certain we are here to learn.
Be compassionate with yourself and others.

Love and Light,