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Monthly Archives January 2017

A Yoga Therapist’s Personal Practice [And Why It’s Important]

In this video clip, Brandt discusses the importance of a Yoga Therapist’s personal yoga practice, and why it’s a good idea to regularly schedule practices that are not part of their normal routine.

Addiction: Yoga Therapy Vs. Yoga Class

In this segment from a Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy Q&A, Brandt discusses the difference between private yoga therapy for addiction and the yoga classes commonly found in addiction centers.

Video Transcription

Look, addiction centers, what they generally do is couple yoga with other modalities, right? So a lot of people get into yoga when they’re trying to battle their addiction because they go to addiction treatment center and they basically do yoga. And that yoga is really varied but generally, it’s trauma-sensitive – it’s based on calming the nervous system, the things you’d expect, right? But when you work one-on-one with an addict, what I’m doing is usually two-fold. And the first one is really looking at their doshas and really giving them practices to balance their doshas first.

So that’s sort of the first order of business. A lot of addicts are seriously pitta imbalanced and so I work with that a lot. But then a sort of deeper work is more from a Koscheck perspective where the way I look at it is we’re trying to retrain their system so that their vision of maya-kosha, their unconscious mind is not guiding their actions. So you can get into very deep work. There’s a part of getting out of being an addict – and I’ve been one so I know this – where you’re just sort of gritting your teeth and it works if you work it kind of thing. And that model’s good, but it’s only good to a point because it won’t move you beyond your addictions taking, causing you to act constantly. So the next piece of work then is the stuff we’re actually doing in this course, which is to really understand that those addictive tendencies are…even though they feel energetic and physical and all these things, we’re actually working in the unconscious mind. And the job really is to unearth those things.

So a lot of philosophy, a lot of practice, practice, practice like physical pranayama all to get sort of even dosha-cly but then we like really dive in and try to change how we interact with our system. The practice of yoga in a way is really getting unaddicted to your thoughts is a large part of that practice. And you can say that many ways, right? You could also say it’s getting unaddicted to reacting to your thoughts. But either way, we’re all addicts. So when I’ve worked with addicts, I like working with addicts one-on-one more. I’ve done class work in my life and I like that because I’m more of a…it helps and I like to give people hope in that way that practice can bring them relief. But the other thing which could be super controversial, so I’ll just preface this, is that not all addicts wanna be unaddicted. So as a yoga therapist, your job is to give people the chance to investigate whether they do or not and then what you usually find out is who is really interested in changing. That’s true of everything, but it’s in starker relief with addiction.

Ayurveda Vs. Yoga Therapy

In the segment of a Yoga Therapy Program Q&A session, Brandt Passalacqua, founder of Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy, discusses the difference between Ayurvedic doctors and Yoga therapists, including the use of the doshas, specific protocols, and treating acute symptoms versus chronic issues.

Yoga Therapy To Strengthen Core and Pelvic Floor Muscles

In the segment of a Yoga Therapy Program Q&A session, Brandt Passalacqua, founder of Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy, discusses how to work with clients with limited mobility to strengthen core and pelvic floor muscles using bandhas.

Yoga Therapy For Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

In the segment of a Yoga Therapy Program Q&A session, Brandt Passalacqua, founder of Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy School, discusses how a Yoga Therapist can work with the physical symptoms of MS, as well as how to think about the disease throughout the other koshas.

Helping Clients Stick To A Practice (Or How Often Should We Practice To Feel Better And Make Change?)

In the segment of a Yoga Therapy Program Q&A session, Brandt Passalacqua, founder of Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy, discusses how Yoga Therapists can use honest dialogue, scheduling, and science to help clients change their habits, stick to their habits and ultimately help themselves.

Yoga Therapy For Sciatica

Sciatica is a common complaint. People experience pain along the sciatic nerve which runs down the back/outside part of the thigh and calf, can affect the foot, the heel and the space between the first and second toes.

Technically, sciatica is not a condition itself. It’s a symptom. And depending on the cause, it needs to be treated differently.

In my practice, I have worked with many for sciatica symptoms. To think of them as one group would be a mistake, since the causes are varied and therefore, the treatments were, as well. All however involve some sort of impingement of the sciatic nerve that causes symptoms.

Some Possible Causes Include:

Some Muscular Causes Include:

  • Piriformis issues (sciatic nerve runs under or through this muscle)
  • Quadratus lumborum (QL) issues
  • Low back muscles in combination with above

So what do we as Yoga Therapists do to help?

First we try to figure out the issue. Ideally we would have some pictures letting us know if there is a herniated disc or stenosis in the spine. This can also be figured out by knowing whether or not forward bending or back bending makes it worse. If forward bending makes it worse it is usually the herniated disc variety and with back bending, the stenosis variety. People often will want to stretch the pain away. They will stretch their hamstrings and get very temporary relief. This however is often not the best idea because it requires forward bending and often aggravates herniated disc issues.

In my opinion, the ideal approach is to create space in the lumbar vertebrae, strengthen weak muscles that contribute to compression of the spine, and strengthen weak muscles that cause the piriformis to overwork. Finally, stretch muscles that are shortened (usually hip flexors).

If Yoga Therapists do this while keeping in mind the client’s limitations based on the forward bending and back bending assessment, a sequence can be developed that is beneficial for their body and can move them towards resolving sciatica pain.

In Summary:

  • Get a good read on whether back bending or forward bending is contraindicated
  • Don’t stretch away the pain
  • Strengthen weak muscle groups
  • Stretch shortened muscle groups

In the Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy Program we learn assessment techniques to individualize treatments for conditions like sciatica.

You can learn more about our yoga therapy school here or be referred to a BDYT, by contacting us. If you’re suffering from physical injuries or problems such as scoliosis, a rotator cuff tear, or plantar fasciitis, a yoga therapist can help alleviate your pain.

May all beings be free from suffering,

2016 End of Year Letter From Brandt to BDYT Students


I was at the movies recently and noticed that most of the trailers had really dark themes for upcoming movies. It seems that the current climate of divisiveness and fear has permeated into the entertainment industry. The vibration of the world is low. People are searching for expressions of their fear and their hope. As I watched and pondered this I found myself asking the question of what our role as yogis are at this present moment? What is our role as a yoga teacher, or Yoga Therapist? What is our contribution to help the planet raise its vibration and find its way to oneness—which has at its very heart is truth and bliss?

This year our yoga therapy school has grown fourfold. We are training Yoga Therapists to educate people on how to alleviate their own suffering. Each person that enters our school is making a commitment to expand their knowledge in a way that contributes to this goal. Each student is in this way an instrument of great change. The only way we collectively as a species evolve towards truth is for each one of us to contact it directly. I have interviewed hundreds of yoga teachers and as I’m sure you have noticed as well, many of them/you have come to yoga from the process of trying to alleviate their/your own suffering.

As Yoga Therapists, this is the change we facilitate. Often we will never know that we helped in this way. A healed shoulder, management of chronic pain, finding mental peace in a mind filled with chaotic states. We see the shifts—the healing—but we can’t see the collective result.

But we are yogis. We understand that the practice is about isvara pranidanam, surrender. Surrender to the wisdom that is is not ours to understand in its entirety today. Surrender to the wisdom of consciousness that always guides us towards the goal of freedom. Our work is to spread these teachings through direct experience. If we truly surrender into our work, play our roles as Yoga Therapists with impeccable intent, and allow our clients to experience the consciousness-shifting power of yoga, we have done enough.

So this year’s closing message is this. Surrender into the work. Fill your heart and mind with the knowledge that your work makes a difference, even if you can’t see it. Allow your own practice to be a catalyst to others who seek healing and peace. And know that consciousness is filled with an inescapable pull towards freedom that can’t be altered.

Thank you all for doing this work with me, and sharing your light with me.

Jai Yoga Therapists!

Blessings to you and yours this New Year.

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