The practice of Yoga Therapy is growing in popularity as it empowers people with the knowledge they need to help heal themselves, rather than relying solely on traditional healthcare practitioners.
Chelsea Lee, Certified Yoga Therapist and Program Director of Yoga Therapy Program at the Vancouver School of Healing Arts, says that yoga therapy has been carving its place in the wellness and healthcare industries by bridging the gap between the Western medical profession and Eastern healing practices.
“Yoga Therapy allowed me to heal myself from injury and I think a lot of people are interested in that so they can become less reliant on the western medical system,” Chelsea said.
The 300-hour Foundations of Yoga Therapy Program taught by Chelsea at VSOHA is unique to Vancouver in its well-rounded approach to therapy. Students receive a strong foundation of knowledge in the physical aspects such as anatomy, physiology, physical assessment and injury rehabilitation, whilst also exploring conditions of mind, heart and spirit.
“There’s lots of great yoga in the city [Vancouver] but what’s unique to VSOHA is that we’re looking at the person as an integrated whole – mind, body and spirit – and teaching our students how to develop individualized treatment plans for clients based on their unique story, beliefs and body. It’s a science and an art form.” Chelsea said.
Supporting this vision is a team of carefully chosen, highly skilled faculty members from a balance of eastern and western perspectives who each bring a unique specialization to the program. Among the team of highly experienced yoga teachers and yoga therapy specialists is industry front-runner Nicole Marcia.
Nicole is a Certified Yoga Therapist with a Master’s degree specializing in yoga therapy from Lesley University in Boston, MA. She has worked extensively with provincial health services, trauma centres, military communities, and marginalized populations with a focus on mental health, addictions, drug treatment, trauma and sexual violence.
Nicole said, “It’s a real honor to be playing a role in this innovative program that is elevating the profession of yoga therapy. The combined expertise of such a diverse and experienced group of faculty makes for a high calibre of training for our students.”
Nicole will be working alongside Diane Lee – physiotherapist, March Finch – registered massage therapist, Todd Inouye – yoga philosophy expert, Sylvia Smallman – Later Life Yoga specialist and a host of other industry professionals.
Chelsea said “It’s important for aspiring Yoga Therapists to be able to speak the language of the Western medical perspective so that when they receive referrals from doctors, psychologists, physiotherapists and other health care practitioners, they can talk the talk. Weaving the Eastern practices of yoga while being grounded in Western science is what we strive to bring to our students in order to set them up for success in this field.”
Thanks to the student clinic portion of the program, students have the opportunity to work with clients who aren’t their peers, allowing them to graduate from the program with practical, hands-on skills.
When discussing Yoga Therapy, Chelsea says she often encounters questions around what can occur during a session, and what Yoga Therapy entails. This has prompted the creation of a Yoga Therapy Open House at the Vancouver School of Yoga. During the event, Chelsea will run a yoga therapy demo session and unveil her vision for a brand new program that’s currently in development – a 500 hour Advanced Yoga Therapy Program which expands on the 300 hour Foundations of Yoga Therapy.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to get to really show what yoga therapy entails by demonstrating a live session and allowing the conversation to develop from there. I’m also looking forward to connecting with some previous graduates of the Foundations of Yoga Therapy program to see where they’re at and chat about possible next steps for them with the Advanced Yoga Therapy Program,” Chelsea said.
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