On Becoming A Yoga Therapist


Well, as my fellow yoga therapy students and I press on towards the end of our (rather gruelling) 2+ year Yoga Therapy Diploma Course, I am beginning to reflect on why I first decided to become a Yoga Therapist, and how that has changed and developed over the past 18 months.

Restorative poses are prescribed for their ability to relax and heal on a deep therapeutic level.

Restorative poses are prescribed for their ability to relax and heal on a deeply therapeutic level.

My initial aim was, of course, to “help” people.  An important part of yoga philosophy is that of being of service to others (Karma Yoga) and a Yoga Therapist holds a unique position which enables him or her to combine modern Western knowledge and science with traditional Eastern yogic techniques to cultivate methods of healing. When I first applied for a place on the course, I passionately wanted to be able to ease suffering and encourage empowerment and ownership of did-ease and other disruptions to wellbeing. Of course, I still feel the same way, however, I now understand that these disruptions exist on many different levels within the person, and that, in order for true healing to take place, every level has to be addressed and healed.

A secondary aim was to continue to spread the benefits of yoga as widely as I could. Yoga is purely experiential. Any student knows that we can talk about (and understand) the many physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual benefits of yoga, however the value is in actually spending regular time on our mat experiencing yoga. When we are in that most peaceful of places: at home in our body, experiencing the breath, that is when we truly feel the power of yoga.

Now imagine harnessing all that energy and focusing it precisely where it is needed to improve a particular aspect (or aspects) of wellbeing, then, you have Yoga Therapy.

If you would like to know more about Yoga Therapy, go to my Yoga Therapy page at: Yoga Therapy, or contact me at: Contact Sarah.


G – Grief

G – Grief

Grief comes to us all.  We all experience loss, whether it be the death of a loved one; the loss a family pet; a serious accident or the onset of ill-health; losing a friendship or a job that we love or suffering the breakdown of an intimate relationship.

How you deal with grief will depend very much upon:

(1)   Your life experiences so far since, ultimately our perceptions, attitudes and beliefs towards every experience in life is the result of the perceptions, attitudes and beliefs that we already hold due to the experiences we have already had! 

(2)   The value that you held for that which has been lost. 

(3)   The degree in which you have developed personal characteristics such as resilience, optimism, persistence and determination.

(4)   Your spiritual beliefs. If, for example, your belief system tells you that challenge makes you stronger, or that we learn through sadness, you will be better equipped to deal with grief in a more positive way. 

(5)   The amount of support you are offered and ask for.

Regardless of how we deal with grief, we find ourselves dealing with a pattern of human emotions and these are known as the Cycle of Grief.  Whilst the cycle is the same for most of us, we will all travel round it differently, due to the reasons given above.


When we experience an important loss, our first reaction is usually one of shock and complete disbelief. Shock affects people in different ways: everything can seem unreal; people can feel numb, withdrawn, detached; some people feel completely disorientated and don’t know what to do with themselves. For some it is a nightmare they cannot escape. Many people quickly experience complex and confused feelings – anger, guilt, despair, emptiness, helplessness and hopelessness.


When the shock begins to wear off, many people go through a stage of denial during which they cannot accept the reality of the loss. This often involves what counsellors call searching behaviour, an attempt at some level to try to deny that the loss has occurred. In the case of bereavement, people often find themselves thinking they have seen or heard the dead person and many people talk aloud to the person they have lost.

Anger And Guilt

It is common to experience anger, sometimes guilt and often both. Many people find themselves asking: “Why has this happened”? “Why me”? This is particularly so if the loss was sudden, unexpected or involved a tragic accident, Counsellors say that it is common to wish to find blame, either in ourselves, in others, or even with the person who has died, and this can lead to powerful feelings of anger and guilt.

Despair And Depression

In the first few weeks the whole situation may seem unbearable and in the months that follow, many people feel there is little purpose in life and nothing of interest in the outside world. People sometimes begin to question their own sanity and think that you are going mad.  This  is a common experience.


Eventually people pass through the period of depression and begin to accept the loss. This usually happens with the passage of time and, as the pain eases, we are able to think about our loss and recall the past without feelings of devastation. This can take up to a year or longer.  Eventually, however people start thinking of beginning their life again, maybe renewing old interests and taking up new pursuits. Many people take up a hobby as a therapy.   It is important to remember that the past is always a part of us and is not affected by enjoying the present, or planning for the future.

Finding Good Listeners

There is no automatic or quick answer to grief and it helps to express the feelings that well up inside us. Many people are afraid to talk to us when we experience a loss because they feel they will upset us. Most people do not realise that we want and need to talk about our loss. It is important to find good listeners. In the case of bereavement, there are organisations that can offer help and support during this vulnerable time. Please see below for links to useful organisations who provide professional help and counselling for the bereaved.

Remember, if you are grieving, whatever the reason:

(1)  Give yourself time and be kind to yourself.

(2)  Allow yourself to express your grief.

(3)  Understand that acceptance will come over time.

Useful Organisations

Cruse: http://www.crusebereavementcare.org.uk

Much Loved: http://www.muchloved.com/gateway/grief-support-organisations.htm

Winstons Wish – Have information and links specifically for children suffering from or anticipating bereavement:  http://www.winstonswish.org.uk

F – Feelings


Feelings are powerful. They dictate our actions, behaviours and beliefs – fact. They are so powerful that we have no control over them – not fact.  When we exercise power over our feelings we are choosing, to a much greater extent, how we feel. Our feelings are largely influenced by our thoughts and our thoughts are the result of our previous experiences, influences and beliefs in any situation. Therefore if you have learned to feel guilty if somebody around you is upset, you will most likely feel guilty. If your first reaction to perceived aggression is to retaliate in anger then you will become angry. 

So how can we go about reacting differently?  The simplest way is to change our thoughts.  And that’s where things become interesting.  We have ultimate control over our thoughts.  Nobody else has any power at all over them, unless we we give them that power.  We can choose to perceive any situation, person or event in our own inimitable way.  In order to change our thoughts we have to know that we are capable of doing so.  If you believe a particular person will annoy you because he “always gets on my nerves” then chances are he is going to annoy you.  If you tell yourself that he isn’t going to affect you anymore, you have a very strong chance that he won’t. 

Give it a try. Next time you feel angry, sad, low, guilty, frustrated, envious, upset or offended, don’t react, pause for thought.  Literally.  Be aware of what is going around your head, and then consider changing those thoughts.  You can control your day to great effect if you get into the habit of re-thinking before re-acting.

I would love to hear your comments about this or any other of my blogs.  Please feel free to use the contact page.

E – Emotions


Emotions are a form of energy that flows within our body/mind.  Right now your emotions  may be a raging torrent of anger, frustration or desperation, or maybe a gentle loving stream of contentment, or even a pool of calm and peacefulness. Whatever type of emotion is present within you, it will affect your thinking, your behaviour and your perception of the current moment. 

Just for a moment, take yourself back to a time when you felt very angry and it appeared that everything was against you. During that angry interlude, life felt like a battle: that nothing was going right. Now remember a time when you felt extremely happy and it felt like you were in the flow of life and everything felt good and right.  This is the power of your emotions. 

Although it is easy to believe that our emotions govern us, this is not actually true.  Our thoughts dictate our emotions, just as they dominate our beliefs and behaviours.  Our internal chattering translates into our emotions, leading to our behaviours.  The key to feeling contentment instead of frustration, and joy instead of anger, is to be more aware of our thoughts and to choose them wisely.  If you don’t want to be unhappy, you can learn to challenge those unhappy thoughts, release them and change them for neutral or happy thoughts. If you no longer wish to feel stuck, then lift the lid to your thoughts and allow yourself to create the answers you need for change in your life.  It may sound simple and that is because it is actually very straightforward. 

The real challenge is making the committment to changing your emotions and sticking to it.  With a little determination, some support from people around you and maybe some professional guidance, you can decide to choose your thoughts and manage your emotions successfully.

“You are the ultimate influence in your life. Inspire yourself wisely” – Maya Phillips, “Emotional Excellence.” 


A – Anger


A – Anger

Simply put, anger is about a perceived lack of control over a situation, person, thought, belief or feeling. I write perceived because, as with all of our feelings, beliefs and thoughts, it doesn’t matter whether they are actually real or not, what matters is that we believe them to be true.

As shown (right), there are many things that might trigger anger and because we are all unique, the triggers will be different for each of us. However, anger is not all bad since it can be positive force or a negative one, depending upon how that anger is used and the type of behaviour that is chosen to express it. Used positively, anger brings forth change, it gets people thinking, changes views and opinions and it promotes discussion which in turn leads to action and change.  The acceptable way to use anger to promote change is to convert the frustration behind that anger into assertive action. Assertive action is an appropriate and acceptable method for putting your views, wishes and opinions across.

Aggressive anger, on the other hand, is not good for anybody.  It seeks to diminish the person you are angry at and at the same time diminishes you by making you feel bad.  Even if you are able to justify your anger to yourself, you still have to convince other people that your behaviour is acceptable and that is not an easy task if your behaviour is inappropriate. 

So how do we convert anger in our everyday lives?  Some examples:

  • Let’s say a work colleague is rude to you, instead of being rude back, try politely explaining to that person that you feel they are being rude and that you don’t respond positively to rudeness.
  • Anger is sometimes a result of feeling threatened.  If we feel insecure we over-defend ourselves by fighting back.  A more appropriate response would be to ask ourselves why we feel insecure, and seek ways to dealing with it.
  • When somebody cuts you up next time in the car, try to empathise with them instead of cursing them. Try rationalising the situation by considering that their journey may be more urgent than yours.  Or maybe normally they are a good driver but today, like all of us, they had a brief lapse in concentration.
  • Golden rule: Think first before you respond.  Anger is a primitive emotion that we use without thought.  If you are able to think first, respond second, you are a long way towards conquering your anger.