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Yoga in Social Work: Benefits, Best Practices, and How to Start

A woman sitting in Lotus Pose, demonstrating one application of yoga in social work
A woman sitting in Lotus Pose, demonstrating one application of yoga in social work

There is a growing interest among social workers to use yoga in social work, especially for clinical social work. Some integrative psychotherapy practices already have yoga therapists in them now. 98% of students studying social work at Western Michigan University reported that they support the use of yoga as a therapeutic intervention, but many of them lacked specific information about how to use yoga therapeutically and in a trauma-informed manner themselves.

Even if you practice yoga personally, it is critically important that you receive specific training on how to use yoga with clients before attempting it yourself. Without knowing how to assess clients, determine the most effective practices, and apply them appropriately, you risk causing them physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harm.

As the Co-Founder, Director, and Lead Teacher of Breathing Deeply, I’ve had the honor of training social workers in yoga therapy so they can safely use yoga in social work. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits, best practices, and how to get started with yoga for social work.

Table of Contents:

What Is Yoga Therapy?

Yoga therapy is an integrative approach that blends traditional yoga practices with modern therapeutic techniques to promote holistic wellness. It is designed to support mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health by empowering clients to learn how to heal themselves. Yoga therapy techniques include:

  • Asana (poses)
  • Pranayama (breathing)
  • Meditation
  • Chanting
  • And more

While you can learn yoga by attending yoga classes, yoga therapy is learned with dedicated yoga therapy training. This teaches you not only the techniques, but also how to apply them therapeutically to a wide variety of mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health conditions.

What Are the Benefits of Using Yoga in Social Work?

More and more research is being conducted to explore the role of yoga in social work and how it can achieve better outcomes for clients, including a 2022 paper in the International Journal of Humanities & Social Science Studies (IJHSSS), a 2020 paper in Australian Social Work, a 2011 paper in Social Work Education, numerous graduate school theses, dissertations, and projects, and more.

Based on my years of experience working as a yoga therapist and teaching others to become yoga therapists, there are numerous benefits to using yoga in social work, several of which I’ve outlined below.

1. Increasing Clients’ Awareness and Self-Regulation

Increased awareness and self-regulation allow clients to remain attentive and present in the moment, as well as effectively manage emotional and physiological responses to stress. By becoming more aware of their physical, mental, and emotional states, they can more easily take steps to stay present and control their responses. Clients can learn how to use yoga to regulate their emotions and nervous system responses, turning off their fight-or-flight reactions and embracing restfulness through the parasympathetic nervous system.

2. Increasing Clients’ Resiliency and Ability to Cope

As clients increase their self-awareness and learn how to regulate their responses, they can better cope with stress, stay calm under pressure, and be more resilient in the face of challenges. Practicing yoga can help cultivate mindfulness and inner peace, which can greatly improve clients’ resiliency and ability to cope.

3. Reducing Clients’ Stress and Improving Mental Health

Studies have shown that yoga can improve mental health and reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and symptoms of PTSD. As discussed in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, “yoga’s potential for reducing stress-related symptoms is so well-established that the National Institute of Health recommended meditation over prescription drugs as the preferred treatment for mild hypertension in 1984.” It was also discovered that people who consistently practiced yoga had less cortisol present in their saliva, indicating lower stress levels, and yoga can effectively help to treat issues like anxiety and depression.

4. Giving Clients Agency to Handle Challenging Situations

Yoga therapy teaches clients how to reduce their stress, regulate their emotions and nervous systems, and become more mindful and aware. As clients learn how to apply yoga techniques themselves, they gain more agency in their own health. A major benefit of using yoga in social work is that clients do not have to rely on another person or a machine to improve their health—they become empowered to do it themselves.

5. Using Mind-Body Techniques and Improving Clients’ Physical Health

Two students in Breathing Deeply's yoga therapy program practicing how to use asana with clients, just one way to use yoga in social work

Social workers often have mind-based techniques at their disposal, such as talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. While these can be highly effective on their own, there are situations where clients may respond better to the mind-body techniques of yoga therapy or a combination of both. I have personally found that more and more clients are asking to use yoga in this way, and many clients with anxiety or trauma find yoga therapy to be a key component in their care.

Not only that, but if clients are suffering from physical pain, headaches, or conditions that negatively impact their physical health, it can contribute to their stress, anxiety, and poor mental health. Yoga therapy can provide relief for everything from Upper Cross Syndrome (a common source of neck pain) to cancer treatment. Having yoga therapy techniques that can address physical health conditions offers social workers a more holistic approach to improving outcomes for clients.

6. Learning Skills for Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-informed yoga therapy can be a powerful tool for providing trauma-informed care. According to a 2021 study published in Evaluation and Program Planning, trauma-informed yoga can be beneficial for improving physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being among vulnerable populations, particularly those who are in the correctional system, those who are in treatment for substance abuse, or those who are looking for mental health resources.

Yoga can help clients who have experienced trauma in many ways, such as:

  • Reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms
  • Regulating trauma responses and emotions
  • Improving mood, concentration, and awareness
  • Getting better quality of sleep

Social workers who undergo trauma-informed yoga therapy training can learn the proper approach and appropriate techniques to helping these clients, including what type of language to use, what types of poses to avoid, how to modify poses as needed, and how to invite clients to do things without using verbal commands or hands-on adjustments.

How Can Social Workers Use Yoga?

A social worker who has been trained how to use yoga in social work helps a client do breathing exercises

In order to use yoga in social work, you must first complete yoga therapy training. This ensures that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide safe, ethical yoga therapy to clients.

Once you have been adequately trained, you will have an understanding of how to apply yoga therapy to individual clients. Different yoga techniques will be more or less effective for different physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional conditions. Yoga therapy should always be personalized to the individual, taking into account not only their health, but also their history, boundaries, goals, and any other treatments.

A few examples of yoga therapy models that could be relevant in social work are:

  • You might use yoga nidra to reduce a particular client’s anxiety. This could involve putting them in a restful state to help them stay present, regulate their brain waves, and relax.
  • For another client who has anxiety, you might find it works better to combine movement and breath. This could involve extending their exhales while practicing gradually more relaxing poses, from standing poses, to seated poses, to supine poses.
  • To help a client with depression, you might use breathing techniques that extend their inhales, energize their breathing, or both. This could also be followed with breathing techniques to reduce anxiety.

Some social workers may combine yoga and social work in the same client session, while others perform yoga therapy and social work in separate sessions. Knowing your clients, their backgrounds and needs, and what models or techniques will work best for their therapeutic goals will help guide this decision.

What Are Best Practices for Using Yoga in Social Work?

There are many best practices for using yoga in social work, mental health professions, and other healthcare modalities. A good yoga therapy training program will cover this material, both for students who want to become yoga therapists and need to know how to work with other healthcare professionals, and for those in other professions who want to integrate yoga therapy into their existing careers. Below is an overview of several such best practices for using yoga in social work.

1. Train in Yoga Therapy

First and foremost, you must be trained in yoga therapy before you can use yoga in social work safely, ethically, and effectively. For example:

  • The most effective yoga practices for clients with anxiety will differ from those for clients with depression, or PTSD, or other mental health conditions.
  • Social workers need to know which asanas (poses) will help a client and which could be harmful, how they should be practiced, how long they should be held, and more.
  • Breath work is more than just taking deep breaths to lessen anxiety. There are many different ways to breathe, and there are specific ways that yoga therapists use breath.

Proper yoga therapy training can help social workers gain the expertise needed to apply yoga with clients. Want to learn more? Jump ahead to our information about why social workers need training to use yoga and watch my video about how we approach training to use yoga therapy for mental health.

2. Create a Safe Space for Clients

Creating a safe space for clients to practice yoga in the context of social work is critical. Beyond having a space that accommodates for stretching out and holding certain yoga poses, you also need a space that fosters your clients’ mindfulness and empowerment. Making a secure and comfortable environment for a trauma-informed yoga session opens up a world of opportunities for growth and healing.

This should involve identifying your clients’ needs and adapting your space to meet those needs. For example, you might:

  • Keep the lights on.
  • Leave the door open.
  • Allow clients to face the door.

3. Conduct an Assessment

Just as you would conduct an assessment for your clients as a social worker, so too should you conduct an assessment for clients with yoga therapy in mind. This can help in a number of ways:

  • Determining the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual issues that are most important to your client
  • Identifying any physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual issues that could affect your work
  • Outlining any past or current treatments the client has received
  • Understanding any traumatic events in your client’s history

Ultimately, knowing how to use assessment tools effectively will enable you to know which yoga therapy practices and techniques to apply for a client.

4. Develop a Plan

A trained professional applies yoga to social work by helping a client with mobility issues stretch while seated in a chair

Using your assessment of the client and the yoga therapy training you have received, you can develop an individualized plan for your client. This can include social work or yoga therapy individually or in combination. On the yoga therapy side, you can choose which specific techniques to use and how they should be practiced to achieve the best results for a particular condition.

  • Be prepared to reassess and adjust as needed, taking into account the client’s current emotional state or any new events that may have occurred.
  • Use a trauma-informed approach as appropriate.
  • Adapt techniques as needed, whether it’s modifying a yoga pose for someone with mobility issues, using invitational language for someone who has experienced trauma, or adjusting a sequence to be gentler for a client who is feeling exhausted.
  • Help clients learn how to practice yoga techniques themselves so they can become more self-reliant and empowered in their own health and well-being.

5. Provide Informed Consent and Safety Information

As always, it is important to provide clients with informed consent and safety information. This isn’t just ethical, but also ensures that your clients feel comfortable and secure throughout the process. This can include:

  • Being transparent about what you’ll do and why
  • Discussing any potential risks
  • Encouraging and answering any questions
  • Prioritizing your client’s autonomy
  • Using an informed consent form

By taking this approach, you can smoothly integrate yoga in social work while supporting your clients’ well-being.

Why Do Social Workers Need Training to Use Yoga?

Anyone who wants to use yoga therapeutically to help another person needs to get yoga therapy training. This is the best way to ensure that you will have the knowledge and skills necessary to use yoga safely, ethically, and effectively with others.

Otherwise, you risk recommending yoga poses, breathing exercises, or other techniques that can range from ineffective to actively harmful. Even if something has worked well for you in your own personal yoga practice, that doesn’t mean that it is safe or helpful for someone else.

With proper training, you can learn:

  • The core principles and role of yoga therapy
  • Yoga ethics and philosophy
  • How to use anatomy and pathology with yoga
  • Techniques like asana (poses), pranayama (breath), chanting, and meditation
  • How to work with a range of health conditions
  • How to talk to clients and assemble a plan
  • And more!

Watch my video below to learn more about how we approach mental health conditions in our yoga therapy training.

Breathing Deeply | Yoga for Mental Health

Get Started with Yoga Therapy Training

Want to learn how to use yoga in social work? Ready to get started with yoga therapy training? It would be our honor to teach you!

At Breathing Deeply, our mission is to make safe, ethical, practical yoga therapy more widely accessible. In order to do this, we have worked to develop self-paced yoga therapy training programs with flexible payment plans for students of all skill levels. Join more than 20,000 students who have come to Breathing Deeply.

Learn more about our training programs or apply today!

What is the Vijnanamaya kosha? + 3 meditation techniques to help you balance it

vijnanamaya kosha
vijnanamaya kosha

Welcome to episode 61 of The Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy and Meditation podcast.

In this episode, Brandt dives deep into an exploration of the Vijnanamaya kosha, also known as our intuition body or our unconscious mind.

Learn what the Vijnanamaya kosha is and how it may look or feel for you when it is imbalanced. Discover the four stages or goals of meditation and how meditation works to balance the Vijnanamaya kosha.

We look at this kosha through the lens of the three doshas and offer three meditation practices to bring balance to the Vijnanamaya kosha.

This episode was taken as an excerpt from our FREE 6-week course the Radically Balanced Yogi! 

Sign up to receive access to the 3 meditations mentioned in this video along with in-depth information on how to balance all of your other koshas: https://bit.ly/2WX1HGc

Om Shanthi

  • The Vijnanamaya Kosha & signs it is balanced
  • Practices to balance this kosha with meditation
  • The four stages of meditation
  • Imbalances in each dosha in this kosha 
  • Breath meditation for Vata & Pitta Imbalance
  • Meditation on thoughts for vata & kapha imbalance
  • Japa meditation for pitta & kapha imbalance

Breathing Deeply is a Yoga Therapy and Meditation School, founded by lead teacher Brand Passalacqua in 2014. We hold online and in-person Yoga Therapy Foundations and IAYT accredited Advanced Programs and retreats along with Meditation Programs, including online meditation teacher training and certification and holistic weight loss with Being At Peace with Food.

Breathing Deeply is made up of an active and thriving community of yogis, caregivers, therapists, teachers, medical professionals, parents & children with the same intention—to serve others, lessen suffering, and co-create a new paradigm in wellness.

Yoga for Cancer Training: Helping Patients and Survivors

A yoga therapist who has completed yoga for cancer training helps a client to stretch
A yoga therapist who has completed yoga for cancer training helps a client to stretch

Yoga offers cancer patients and survivors a holistic approach to healing their bodies and minds. Not only can yoga help with the physical and mental effects of having cancer, but also the effects of treating cancer and helping clients regain agency over their bodies. If you’re interested in using yoga to help cancer patients and survivors heal, it’s critical to complete the right yoga for cancer training so you’re prepared to work safely and effectively with clients.

As an experienced yoga therapist and the lead teacher of my own yoga therapy program, my mission is to make yoga more accessible to others. Below, I’ll share my knowledge about the benefits of yoga therapy for cancer patients and survivors, how to use yoga with these clients, yoga cancer training, and more to help you on your journey. If you’d like to apply to our program, you can learn more and apply here.

Table of Contents:

Benefits of Yoga Therapy for Cancer Patients and Survivors

There are numerous benefits to using yoga therapy for cancer patients and survivors. Yoga can help improve physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, tackling health conditions and side effects at every stage of these clients’ journeys.

Stimulating the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and organs that carry lymph, a clear fluid that helps fight infection and disease, throughout the body. Cancer treatment can damage the lymphatic system, leading to lymphedema, a condition where excess lymph fluid accumulates in the soft body tissues, causing swelling and inflammation. This is especially common among breast cancer patients, where the generally accepted incidence rate is around 30%, as noted by the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Yoga therapy can be a valuable tool in stimulating the lymphatic system and keeping lymph fluids moving, which can help with overall health. The lymphatic system is also a key component of the immune system, and improving lymphatic circulation can help the body better fight off infection and disease. Additionally, stimulating the lymphatic system can help the body eliminate toxins and waste products, further supporting overall health and wellness.

Certain standing poses and inversions can help promote lymph flow, though you should take care to modify them appropriately for cancer patients and survivors. This can reduce the risk of injury while still achieving the same benefits. Examples include:

  • Modified Sun Salutation
  • Modified Warrior 1 Pose
  • Supported Shoulder Stand
  • Supported Bridge Pose
  • Supported Legs Up the Wall Pose

Learning how to appropriately modify poses is a major component of yoga for cancer training.

Reducing Side Effects from Chemo, Radiation, and Medication

Studies have shown that yoga can lessen side effects caused by cancer treatments, such as radiation, chemotherapy, and medication. One study found that yoga reduced cancer patients’ anxiety, depression, and fatigue while improving emotional health.

In my experience, this is often the biggest benefit of yoga therapy for cancer patients, and something we always cover in our own yoga cancer training lessons. Cancer medication can have a significant impact on patients’ quality of life due to the side effects it produces.

Yoga therapy can help combat fatigue and lack of sleep, improve strength and flexibility, and give cancer patients techniques for dealing with anxiety and brain fog. It doesn’t eliminate the side effects of cancer treatment, but it can reduce them and provide better outcomes.

Treating Complications and Comorbidities

A complication is a health condition that occurs during or after another health condition or its treatment. By contrast, comorbidity is a pre-existing condition that coexists with another health condition and may affect its treatment. It is not uncommon for cancer patients to deal with complications and comorbidities. For example:

  • A cancer patient may develop depression after their diagnosis or be dealing with depression that started beforehand.
  • If someone undergoes surgery for their cancer, it could leave behind painful scar tissue.
  • Cancer patients are more likely to develop osteopenia or osteoporosis.
  • Ovarian cancer and certain cancer treatments can cause some people to start menopause early.

Yoga therapy has been shown to be an effective complementary treatment for managing complications and comorbidities that often arise during cancer treatment and recovery. By promoting relaxation, reducing stress and inflammation, and increasing physical and emotional well-being, yoga therapy can help improve quality of life and overall health outcomes.

Reducing Anxiety and Improving Mental Health

A cancer patient safely stretches outside after working with a yoga therapist who has received yoga cancer training

Many cancer patients and survivors face anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. Yoga therapy can be a powerful tool to help address these issues and improve mental health, with a proven track record of reducing anxiety among cancer patients with a range of diagnoses. A yoga therapist who has received yoga for cancer training can equip patients and survivors with tools for staying in the present and eventually help retrain the brain and nervous system.

Treating Trauma

Cancer patients and survivors often experience trauma related to their illness, treatment, and overall experience. Trauma can manifest in various ways, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can have a significant impact on their mental and emotional well-being. Yoga therapy can help treat trauma in cancer patients and survivors, providing them with a holistic approach to healing:

  • Yoga therapy can help cancer patients and survivors regulate their nervous systems, reducing the symptoms of trauma.
  • Practices such as pranayama, or breathing exercises, have been shown to calm the mind and body, reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Certain yoga poses can help release tension, promote relaxation, and allow clients to feel safe and grounded.

Trauma-informed yoga therapy is designed to center the client’s autonomy over their own body. A knowledgeable yoga therapist should use invitational language, rather than directives, with cancer patients and survivors, along with other trauma-informed techniques.

Regaining Agency Over the Body and Health

Yoga therapy can help cancer patients and survivors reconnect with their bodies, which can be especially important for those who have undergone invasive medical procedures. Many cancer patients and survivors feel disconnected from their bodies and benefit from feeling agency over their own health and body again. Practices such as body scans, gentle movement, and meditation can help clients become more aware of their body and its sensations, promoting a sense of control and empowerment.

Why Become a Yoga Therapist to Help Cancer Patients?

The best way to help cancer patients and survivors with yoga is to become a yoga therapist and receive yoga for cancer training. A doctor’s scope is limited to treating the cancer, often leaving patients to cope with any consequences that don’t directly impact their cancer on their own. Yoga therapy training will teach you how to work with individuals in a variety of ways—not only with the cancer itself, but all the other things that might be related to a client’s cancer and negatively affecting them.

If you’re looking for a fulfilling career path that involves helping others, consider becoming a yoga therapist. As a yoga therapist, you can provide cancer patients and survivors with a holistic practice that helps improve physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Yoga is a safe, effective, and low-cost modality that can add considerable value to any cancer care, with demand continually growing among patients.

Whether you’re already an occupational therapist, physical therapist, massage therapist, mental health professional, or other healthcare practitioner looking to add yoga to your repertoire or you come from outside the medical field, yoga therapy training can equip you with the skills you seek and put you on a rewarding career path.

Choosing the Right Yoga Cancer Training

Choosing the right yoga cancer training program is crucial for anyone wishing to support cancer patients and survivors in their journey towards healing. Inadequate training can result in ineffective support for your clients or even injury or harm. To find the best yoga for cancer patients training program, consider the following:

  1. IAYT Accreditation: If your ambitions include becoming a certified yoga therapist, you’ll want to choose a training program that has been accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). They offer the highest level of yoga therapy certification, and gaining your certification involves completing yoga therapy training from an IAYT accredited school.
  2. Teacher Qualifications: If your focus is cancer patients and survivors, then you’ll want to learn from a teacher who has experience working with these clients. The most qualified teachers may also have taken additional oncology or advanced yoga cancer training.
  3. Yoga for Cancer Training Curriculum: The curriculum itself should cover a range of topics that are relevant to cancer care. A good yoga cancer training program should include the physical and emotional challenges of cancer, the benefits of yoga for cancer patients, and specific yoga practices and techniques that address cancer-specific issues. The curriculum should also include an understanding of how to modify yoga poses for cancer patients and survivors, as well as how to work with clients who have had surgery or are undergoing treatment.
  4. The Right Price and Pace: Of course, any student will also need to take into account the price and pace of their education, as well as any other factors that affect a training program’s ability to meet their needs.

Some yoga therapy programs like Breathing Deeply’s include a yoga for cancer training component in addition to the other topics needed to become a yoga therapist. There are also more specialized trainings that focus exclusively on using yoga for cancer, although these tend to be most beneficial if you decide to seek even deeper cancer training after completing a foundational yoga therapy program.

How to Work with Cancer Patients and Survivors

You should only use yoga with cancer patients and survivors if you have been trained how to do so. If you make the decision to complete yoga therapy training, keep these objectives in mind to make sure you are adequately prepared to start working with cancer patients and survivors.

Individualize Yoga Therapy for Cancer Patients and Survivors

Yoga therapy should always be personalized to the client at hand, taking into account their unique circumstances, health, abilities, and goals. Understand the common symptoms, side effects, and limitations that cancer patients and survivors may be facing, and be prepared to adapt to your client.

When thinking about how to plan yoga therapy for these clients, most cancer patients and survivors can benefit from the following as a starting point:

  1. Improving Pranic flow through pranayama (breath work)
  2. Practicing axial extension and proper posture
  3. Strengthening muscles over time with modified poses
  4. Improving lymph flow and using practices to manage fatigue
  5. Reducing stress and anxiety with pranayama and Prana Nidra
  6. Sharpening focus and concentration with meditation

Promote Mindfulness and Use Present-Centered Techniques

A teacher and student engaged in yoga for cancer patients training, assessing how to modify common poses for cancer patients and survivors

At its root, anxiety is fear of the future or what could happen. For those who have cancer, it’s normal for there to be anxiety about their diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. Even when someone is recovering from cancer, they may be periodically checked months and even years into the future to see if their cancer has come back, which can be a source of anxiety for many cancer survivors. Therefore, it is especially important to teach these clients to stay in the present. This can include:

  • Pranayama (breath work)
  • Gentle asanas (poses)
  • Meditation
  • Chanting
  • Yoga nidra

In particular, pranayama and chanting can act as good preparatory practices to help the mind stay in the present before meditating. Regular practice of these and other present-centered focus techniques can help train the brain to be in the present.

Combining gentle asanas and breath work can be especially beneficial for training a client’s nervous system response to aid in present-centered thinking, as can yoga nidra and other constructive rest practices. The parasympathetic nervous system promotes rest and digestion, as opposed to the fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system, which is why learning to regulate the nervous system is so important for cancer patients and survivors.

Learn About Different Cancers, Treatments, and Medications

If you plan to specialize in cancer care, it will be helpful to learn about different cancers, treatments, and medications so you can work effectively with a range of clients. If you are just trying to prepare to help a specific client who has cancer or had cancer, you can focus your efforts on researching their specific cancer, treatments, and medications.

For instance, breast cancer patients are more likely to need more focus on the lymphatic system and movement, while lung cancer patients and clients undergoing chemotherapy might involve more anti-anxiety techniques and gentle breath work. Clients who are experiencing joint pain and bone loss from chemo should avoid spending extended time on their hands and knees, as their vertebrates have likely become very delicate and prone to damage, while those with lymphedema may find weight-bearing exercises frustrating and painful but still potentially benefit from them.

In addition to completing yoga cancer training and doing your own research and precautions, you will always need to get clearance from a cancer patient’s doctor to do any yoga with you.

Keep Contraindications in Mind

When working with cancer patients and survivors, it is important to avoid any contraindications to ensure their safety and well-being. These will vary from person to person, depending on their cancer and treatment. Yoga therapy programs like Breathing Deeply’s include yoga for cancer training components that cover some of the contraindications that you’re likely to see with these clients.

A few common contraindications include:

  1. Fatigue: When someone is receiving chemotherapy, they will often be extremely fatigued. Know how much movement someone should do based on where they are in their treatment cycle. You don’t want to physically overexert these clients.
  2. Medical devices: Avoid putting someone in a position that pressures a port or other medical device that has been implanted. Watch out for inversions, deep twists, and strong abdominal work.
  3. Osteoporosis: It’s common for those with cancer to develop osteoporosis, or weakened bones. Make sure any cancer patient or survivor you work with is getting screened for osteoporosis, as certain poses could hurt them if they have it, particularly weight-bearing poses and deep forward bends.

Always communicate with the client and their medical team to ensure that the yoga practice you recommend is appropriate and safe. As mentioned above, you will also need to get approval from their doctor before they can practice any yoga with you. Remember that each person’s needs and abilities may vary, so modifications and adjustments are often necessary.

Learn How to Talk to Cancer Patients and Survivors

Effective communication is crucial when working with people affected by cancer. Clear and empathetic communication can help build trust, reduce anxiety, and improve the overall healing process. Learning how to work with people who are going through major medical events involves not only how you should and should not use yoga to help them, but also how you should talk to someone going through something difficult.

To improve communication, it is important to actively listen to your client, using appropriate language, and acknowledging their emotions:

  • Active listening means paying attention to your client’s verbal and non-verbal cues, asking open-ended questions, and clarifying any misunderstandings.
  • Using appropriate language means avoiding or explaining any medical jargon, as well as using trauma-informed language.
  • Acknowledging emotions means validating their feelings, showing them empathy, and offering your support.

Having strong communication skills can allow your clients to feel more comfortable and supported on their healing journey.

Apply to Our YT Program with Yoga for Cancer Training

Are you interested in becoming a yoga therapist? Do you want to help people facing cancer and a host of other physical and mental health issues?

At Breathing Deeply, we offer yoga therapy training programs for students at every skill level, from those just starting out to those who are ready for advanced training. We provide several days of training devoted specifically to cancer care taught by Meena Ananth, a registered nurse and yoga therapist with over 15 years of experience working in the field of nursing and oncology.

Our students can get started for just $500 down and pay as they go, providing flexible pacing for both coursework and payments. Become a yoga therapist in as little as one year or take as long as you need.

Apply to our yoga therapy school today or contact us with any questions you may have. We look forward to hearing from you!

Teaching yoga philosophy, non-dualism & desire, healing addiction

Teaching Yoga Philosophy

Welcome to episode 60 of The Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy and Meditation podcast.

In this episode, Brandt’s discussion covers how to guide people when teaching yoga philosophy, desire and non-duality, whether non-dual philosophy can help people suffering from addiction and what the different goals of our practice may be.

This clip was taken from a live Q&A that Brandt facilitated with students inside the Breathing Deeply Meditation Mentor Certification Program.

Brandt facilitates live Q&A sessions for all members of our meditation certification program!

Join us and begin your journey to becoming a certified Breathing Deeply Meditation Teacher: https://bit.ly/3YqrqAh

Not ready to teach but want to deepen your personal practice with Brandt? Join our meditation community, free for 30 days! https://bit.ly/3jbO6lo

Om Shanthi

  • How do you guide people on dual vs non-dual yoga philosophy as a meditation mentor?
  • How can I reconcile desire with the non-dualistic point of view?
  • Is the philosophy of the Spanda Karika helpful for addiction?
  • Is it better to study one yoga text at a time or study different philosophies together?
  • What is the goal of practice if it isn’t enlightenment?

Breathing Deeply is a Yoga Therapy and Meditation School, founded by lead teacher Brand Passalacqua in 2014. We hold online and in-person Yoga Therapy Foundations and IAYT accredited Advanced Programs and retreats along with Meditation Programs, including online meditation teacher training and certification and holistic weight loss with Being At Peace with Food.

Breathing Deeply is made up of an active and thriving community of yogis, caregivers, therapists, teachers, medical professionals, parents & children with the same intention—to serve others, lessen suffering, and co-create a new paradigm in wellness.

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