It been almost 2 months since I left for Texas to finish the 500 hour Integrative Yoga Therapy Training I started last August at Kripalu. We were lucky to be a small, cohesive group of 22 students plus a handful of teachers, and equally lucky to be staying on the grounds of a Hindu temple, with roving peacocks and truly delicious vegetarian food.
“In what ways is simply listening already a healing process and therapy
for both the client and the yoga therapist?”
Being heard and understood is a primal need most humans require. In infants, it becomes a matter of physical survival (hungry, tired, uncomfortable) and in adults it creates connection & peace and is a huge component in emotional safety. My work requires me to listen to people’s stories and feelings; always interesting to me, so that part comes somewhat easily. What comes less easily is listening without judgment and quelling my instinct to offer (what I perceive) as helpful advice.
At 75, my dad is starting his yoga practice. The facts are as follows; he is basically thin and fit, a tennis player, gardener and avid ballroom dancer. A psychiatrist, which makes him precise, direct and punctuated with shoulder tension. He has a history of asthma and abandonment issues (mother) and above all stays far away from negative emotions. He calls his current girlfriend love muffin, sexy bunny and lover -respectively horrifying and amusing my children. Over Christmas, my sister Johanna wryly stated that it was cute to find dad a yoga class, but we knew he would never go.
In my hospital job, it is customary for my manager Nora to print out letters of appreciation that we occasionally receive from our patients. In honor of that tradition, and as yoga teachers we know it is even less frequent, I am posting a recent email I received from a student. To all the yoga teachers and health care providers, take it in.
Pranayama- Ujjayi breathing in to lower abdomen and diaphragm (lying on back)
Mudra: Rupa Mudra for Bone Health
Body Awareness- place thin support under lumbar spine for isometric abdominal toning (belly button towards spine); one at a time, lift each knee to chest on exhale.
Two important concepts throughout the lumbar fusion therapy protocol are maintenance of a neutral spine and core stabilization. Stabilization can be defined as a balance between strength, flexibility and postural control and a neutral spine can be thought of as a dynamic position between flexion and extension, making it possible to maintain a neutral spine with functional movement and transfers.
Last week a yoga student of mine fell off a ladder and fractured his first lumbar vertebrae. On Monday he underwent a spinal fusion to join together 5 vertebrae, the two above (T11, T12) and the two below (L2, L3). What is a spinal fusion?
With a lumbar fusion, a posterolateral approach is common which means the incision is made from the back. Then a small bone graft (typically taken from the hip or a cadaver) is placed between the transverse process on each side of the vertebrae. The bone grafts assist the vertebra to heal together through the production of new bone tissue into more solid bone mass. After the graft is placed, the vertebrae are immobilized with screws and/or small plates, and often 2 rods are vertically attached to the vertebral pedicles to stabilize the fusion and enhance new bone growth. Often a brace is worn after surgery for up to 3 months when the patient is out of bed.
With a cervical fusion, an interbody fusion is more common, which means the intervertebral disc is removed. There are 4 types of interbody fusions.