I have asked myself that question many times during these intense years of study. There are many answers but one obvious reason for me to choose this way of blending yoga with physiotherapy is that the yoga teachers whom I met and who seemed to be able to guide me best had studied some kind of western therapeutical approach besides yoga. This gave them an indepth understanding of anatomy, physiology and an appreciation of the infinite individual expressions of the body-mind complex.
Yogasana and physiotherapy share in both basic method and goal: healing through movement. Both are active approaches where the body’s innate ability to be healthy is deeply understood and used as a means to prevent and to fend off illness in an holistic manner.
Yogic empirism shows the practitioner how to use the intertwined, inseparable physical body, nervous system and breath to affect the more subtle layers of existence such as vitality, emotions and mind. A yogi learn by direct experience how to affect awareness and consciousness itself. In other words, you can change how you feel, how you perceive yourself and how you act in the world. These changes are often talked about in a language that may be peculiar, quaint, even hard to relate to for an outsider. And hence it’s not taken seriously. But the changes described are not just subjective experiences, they can be measured in numerous layers: in muscles, organs, hormones, nervous system activation; they can even be seen in the structure of the brain.
My humble hope is to in some way be of service and contribute to the ongoing marriage between western science and yoga because I feel that both fields would gain from merging and would complement each other. They need not be in opposition.
More and more yogis are partaking in this: they study, work with patients both as yoga therapists and other health care providers, they gain experience, they research, they share their findings and thus more evidence is laid to the truth we already experience within ourselves while practicing. These studies give us a common language, a way to relate and integrate. Why is this important? Because more people will come to yoga because of it and have a chance to reap the benefits of the practice.
Since I became a physiotherapist the way I teach yoga has evolved distinctly. For one, I try to avoid too far fetched but well-suited anecdotes and try to speak about things that I know are quite firmly established facts if not yet evidence-based. Things one could say at least are experientally true. I also strive to be open that experience is subjective and ever-changing. This challenges me to keep learning and exploring via lectures, workshops, books, discussions and yoga practice. It’s such a wondrous, marvelous journey!
The more I learn, of course, the more I know there is to know… and there we have it – the magic, the thrill, the pulsation of life and the connection to the divine mystery that is our bountiful, ever expanding, lifegiving Universe. Right here. Within our own bodies, nervous systems, hearts and brains. In every cell, in every atom, and in the energy and empty space they hold. My curiosity is endless!