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What is Yoga Therapy?

Yoga Therapy

Yoga therapy is a holistic and body-centered practice that draws on the wisdom of accessible yoga, current scientific knowledge, and nourishing therapeutic connection to help someone in difficult times; by turning inward, listening deeply, and acknowledging lived experience.  Part of integrated health care, yoga therapists see people with a wide range of "presenting conditions", from injury to trauma, complex pain to various disease conditions. Yoga Therapists employ an inquiry-based, non-prescriptive model to support human experience and response, from birth to dying. Whether addressing prolonged anxiety, recovering from an accident or working with side effects of cancer treatment, yoga therapy walks alongside medical treatment, engaging clients with a yoga practice suited to their current needs, abilities and dilemmas. It is profound individualized self-care during challenging times, that gives the body a voice.  Our practice is to listen.

Yoga Therapy is a regulated, but unlicensed practice, not yet covered by all insurance policies. Yoga Therapists are certified by the International Association of Yoga Therapy and have + 800 hours of specific therapeutic and holistic, condition-based education beyond yoga teacher certification. No physical flexibility or experience with yoga is required.

Buddha statue

What to Expect in a Yoga Therapy Session

The first step, after connecting with your yoga therapist, is to fill out a client intake/informed consent form. If your yoga therapist has received a referral, or has access to your charts and lab results, these will have been reviewed prior to meeting.

In clinic, or online, a yoga therapist begins with a compassionate inquiry, listening fully to a client’s story. The approach is one of compassionate curiosity, acknowledging each person's lived experience and embodiment.

A yoga therapist will draw from current scientific knowledge, as well as the depth of yogic philosophy and accessible yoga practice. Breath and movement will be explored, often very subtly. Patterning and novel movement practice, in additional to a curated variety of yoga practices will be co-created, inspired by the unique needs of each client.

Home practice, if desired, blooms from the experience in each session.

In essence, a session may include the following:

  • Embodied Compassionate Inquiry and Slow Listening
  • Awareness Practices to Enhance Client Agency
  • Integration – of Referrals, Charts,Lab Results and Medical/Complementary Practitioner care
  • Co-Assessment, Goals and Intentions
  • Education – Yoga and Science
  • Yoga Skills and Practice with Individualized Modifications - may include breath practice, gentle and accessible movement, meditation, visualization, and more
  • Co-Assessing Response and Refinement
  • Home Practice, Lifestyle Modifications, Yoga and Health Care Referrals
  • Session are typically one hour in duration at $95/hour.
Anne's hand

Anne is a Certified Yoga Therapist, working with injury, disease (cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular), mental health (anxiety and depression), complex pain and trauma.

Yoga Therapy and Cancer

Yoga Therapy for Those Facing Cancer

Cancer impacts us on all the levels of our human existence. Yoga Therapy is a body centred, holistic one-on-one therapy, which addresses a client’s unique physical, emotional, and spiritual quandaries and needs. Sometimes, after a cancer diagnosis, there is a profound depth of shock; one can feel as though we are running for our life (fight or flight) or we may completely shut down (freeze or feint). Anxiety, insomnia and fatigue become constant companions, and cancer-related PTSD has become more prominent in cancer research. Cancer patients often feel the pressure to be 100% positive, every waking moment. Through a deep understanding of the workings of human suffering and how the body responds to human connection, generous listening and some form of practice (breath, movement and meditation etc). Many side effects of cancer treatment can be calmed through evidence informed complementary care. Yoga Therapy compassionately accompanies people facing cancer and helps them to breathe, find agency and stay present in their lives.

Cancer Navigation

A cancer diagnosis turns our world upside down. There are so many decisions to be made, and so many feelings to sort through. Cancer Navigation is informed by a vast experience in the world of complementary cancer (oncology, nutrition, naturopathy, acupuncture, massage therapy and yoga therapy). Whether you wonder about practical issues (how do cancer treatments work? how can I safely work with side effects? what is current evidence in how complementary therapies might support my medical treatment?) or you feel, as people commonly do, shocked and stuck/fearful and angry, a non-judgmental and experienced presence can help you settle and develop a long-term plan. Cancer Navigation listens fully and helps you find the evidenced-based therapists and strategies that would be most beneficial to your unique needs at each stage of your cancer treatment.

Anne with a patient
Archway

“Life, embodied”

Anne Pitman (M.Sc., C-IAYT, E-RYT 500, Pain Care Certified) is a certified yoga therapist, with over a decade working as a cancer coach, researcher, and integration manager the CHI-Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre (and in private practice) as well as an international speaker advocating for Yoga Therapy in health care. She sees clients in one-on-one Yoga Therapy Sessions, to help people from diagnosis, through testing, treatment and beyond. She has created and facilitated many supportive programs at the OICC, including Head Start, a program for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients and Inspire Now!, a program to help those diagnosed with lung cancer. Much of her practice centres around acknowledging grief and trauma, as well as offering practices to help patients work with specific fears, such as those that rise up around testing and treatment. Anne has recently published a book (co-written with Leigh Leibel) called Yoga Therapy Across the Cancer Care Continuum, a guide for practitioners and patients.

Yoga Therapy

Yoga Therapy and Injury

With her masters in Kinesiology, and Pain Care Certification, Anne has decades of anatomy, biomechanics and physiology study, and experience. For the past twenty years, she's worked in partnership with Paul Wolfe (www.paulwolfermt.com), Integrative Manual Therapist. Their complementary work is diagnostic (Paul) and practice (Anne) oriented, and brings compassionate inquiry to compensatory patterns, the impacted nervous system and neurological aspects of rehabilitation.

Yoga Therapy for Mental Health and Trauma

Anne works integratively with psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists, providing trauma-informed practice to help accompany and acknowledge people living in troubled times. Yoga Therapy is a holistic approach, that considers all areas of life and respects lived somatic experience. It offers co-regulated engagement, strong compassionate containment and subtle do-able yoga practices, to fully support a person in finding their breath, their centre and their agency.

Yoga Therapy, Carrying Grief

There is no way to ignore grief, but we can, instead, choose a radical path: to nourish it instead. Even as we struggle emotionally in the aftermath of a loss or a death, the body bears the impact; initially shocked, over time the breath becomes shallow, the throat tight, the body held rigidly still, the heart armoured. One can feel stuck in a state of continual dissolve or an overall numbness. How can we create more space in our body and in our life for our grief? How can we know our grief as love? Working compassionately with specific movement and breath practices, and with a subtle and non-insistent approach, we can nourish our grief and have a normalizing “bottom up” effect on the traumatized nervous system. Mindful awareness, gentle practices and resultant shifts of physical patterning allows us to move with our grief, eventually helping us to carry it well, deepened in our humanity by our willingness to do so.