Eileen L.

My yoga therapy training at Kripalu helped me integrate my lives as a yoga teacher and a scientist into one.

I discovered yoga while recuperating from a serious cycling accident that happened more than 15 years ago, but changed my body forever. While I found yoga helpful throughout the recovery process, it wasn’t until I began working with a very talented yoga therapist that all my issues resolved. I was so impressed with the healing power of yoga and yoga therapy that I decided to pursue training—first as a yoga teacher, and now as a yoga therapist in the Kripalu School of Integrative Yoga Therapy (KSIYT). I want to share this powerful practice with others, and have a way to stay engaged with my community during my retirement years. 

I have led an NIH-funded research program in neuroscience for the last 34 years, while also teaching PhD students and medical students at a major research university. My career as a professional educator helped me to be a good yoga teacher, but what I didn’t anticipate was how my career as a research scientist would help me to make an even greater impact as a yoga therapist. During my KSIYT training, I worked with faculty member Ann Swanson to write a chapter for a textbook for medical students, reviewing the evidence-based literature supporting yoga therapy. It was so exciting to integrate what up until that point had felt like two separate lives—one as a yoga teacher and one as a scientist/medical educator—into one. Through specializing in the science of yoga, I can do both.

The training has also greatly impacted my personal yoga practice. Because of my background, I had approached yoga from a scientific perspective, with a heavy emphasis on biomechanics and polyvagal theory. Even though I had some basic education in yoga philosophy, my personal practice was focused on asana and pranayama. I was much less familiar with the subtle body, the kosha model, and meditative practices. KSIYT faculty member and Integrative Yoga Therapy founder Joseph LePage helped me to begin experiencing the subtle body through his exceptional application of experiential learning methods. This has opened up a wider yoga toolbox for me, which now also includes chanting, mudras, and a variety of meditative practices. 

My experience is also having an enormous impact on my yoga teaching. Since my personal practice was therapeutic, I was already using a lot of therapeutic principles in my teaching, but without an underlying foundation. The KSIYT methodology gave me that foundation. As I incorporated more therapeutic tools into my personal practice, I had the confidence to begin sharing them with my clients, including cancer patients, health professionals, and stroke survivors. Having regular one-on-one meetings (online and in person) with my KSIYT mentor, Marlysa Sullivan, is another invaluable feature of the program.

I recently created Beyond Wellness Aljezur in the Costa Vicentina National Park in the Western Algarve region of Portugal. After I graduate, I plan to deliver yoga therapy services in this beautiful seaside setting intimately connected with nature. I will be one of only two yoga therapists in the entire country certified by the International Association of Yoga Therapists, and I’m so looking forward to introducing these powerful practices in this special part of the world. My Kripalu training has been truly transformative.

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