Melissa Russell

Foundations & Advanced Program Graduate
C-IAYT Yoga Therapist
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Yoga Therapy Case Study: Depression

I definitely feel like I am on the right path. I knew I was interested in yoga therapy and it seemed like the perfect next step for me to start the Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy Program. I now just love, love, love what I am doing. Learning constantly, working on my own practice, and working one on one with clients is so much fun. I feel like my life has joy and purpose!

I had lost my dad a little over a year before I started the program. His death really had an impact on my life. I felt like nothing mattered. As my boss at the time said, “It seems like you’ve lost your center.” I ended up quitting my job because it seemed pointless — I was creating higher education materials for students for whom they had little value and for instructors who were constantly complaining about the content, cost to their students, and technological limitations. After some time off, I considered grief counseling and as I was looking at counseling and social work programs Breathing Deeply came up at the top of my search. I had never heard of yoga therapy and started doing research. I considered a number of programs but I have to say it was having a call with Anna that made me choose Breathing Deeply. I thought to myself, “Oh, she cares, I’m in.” It was also the month after the Covid lockdown started and it didn’t hurt that Breathing Deeply was already online!

Before starting Breathing Deeply, I had a committed daily asana practice for about 30 years (at home or in studios) and had dabbled with meditation — on and off for about 4 years. The Breathing Deeply program helped me expand to the other limbs of the 8-limbed path described in the Sutras. I now incorporate breathing and daily meditation into my practice. I am looking forward to incorporating more sutra language into my life. It hasn’t always been easy for me to put the way I see the world into words and I love the way the program encourages students to use the teachings to help clients. It helps me to articulate things that are important to me which is empowering on a personal level.

When I think about the most useful/valuable part of the program for me, the answer that comes to mind is “all of it”. I don’t think there was anything that wasn’t useful. I would say that it’s really Brandt’s ability to distill things to their essence and has really helped me focus on the simplest ways to help people. I am getting my 500-hour RYT throughout a program that has a yoga therapy focus. The program is all over the place with lots of different teachers and philosophies. It’s hard to know what you might do to help someone. Brandt’s teachings are clear and concise. You know exactly what to do and if you don’t you can get on a Q&A call with him and figure it out.

This program has completely exceeded my expectations. I expected to come out with the certification but I didn’t expect to have a teacher who is so clear and dedicated to training yoga therapists. You really feel like this is Brandt’s calling and he is doing his best to help you. I also didn’t expect to find such an amazing community. The Q&As, the social network, and the Meditation Program really make you feel connected to a group of people with similar outlooks and goals.

For one of my case studies, I’ve been working with a young woman who has anxiety. I asked her to put her hands on her belly and OM 10 times. As we moved into Savasana she asked if we could OM during Savasana because she felt it helped her to still her mind. At our next meeting, she said she was using the OM practice a few times a day. To center before an event or during an event when she found herself getting distracted. It’s such a small thing but something I never would have known to offer before. It’s such a gift to find the right practice for the right person.

I had taken most of the advanced modules when I started the practicum so I had lots of information in my head but I had not worked with a lot of clients (only the 2 case study clients required for the foundations program). The requirement of 160 hours of client work was perfect. Brandt was able to pass me some clients and I found some on my own. As I started working with clients, having the two weekly calls with Brandt and others in the practicum was just the support I needed. Brandt always made time to listen and give feedback on everyone’s questions, even if we had to go over time. Also, listening to the other students explain what was going on with their clients and hearing Brandt’s feedback enhanced my learning about so many types of conditions. We also spent lots of time talking about building our yoga therapy businesses — everything from websites, to finding clients, and financial stability. At the beginning of the practicum, I was nervous about my work but by the time I hit 160 hours, I felt completely ready to go out in the world. I am grateful for the lifetime access to the practicum Q&As. I know that whenever I have a question or need community — the group and Brandt is always there. I am currently setting up my private practice as a yoga therapist and working in an eating disorder center here in North Carolina. I am excited to see where this takes me! My main areas of interest are mental health, menopause, and pelvic floor health.

For anyone considering becoming a yoga therapy student with Breathing Deeply, it is amazing.

Info Session

Brandt talks about common questions applicants have about the Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy Program. Tune in to get the full program details.