Ahead of her visit to triyoga in February 2020, Amy Ippoliti talks about her personal journey with injuries, alignment-based yoga and how yoga therapeutics work best. Booking details for her vinyasa workshop and yoga therapeutics training are also shared below.
Like many new yoga teachers, my first teacher training back in the nineties was in vinyasa flow yoga. We were taught to move from one pose to the next with very minimal awareness of alignment and form. The idea was to create heat in the body by moving consistently as a way to prevent stiffness and injury and increase mobility. Only that’s not exactly what happened for me.
Despite my flowing, I managed to become afflicted with every yoga-related injury possible – wrist pain, a blown rotator cuff, elbow bursitis, groin strains, hamstring tears, and sacro-illiac issues, to name just a few. In addition to these joint and muscle problems, instead of gaining more mobility and flexibility, I found myself getting tighter and tighter because of repeating poses over and over again in poor alignment.
Thankfully this all changed when I discovered alignment-based yoga and the therapeutic process – while I was still young.
As a result, at 50 now – I’m pretty certain that my practice of yoga therapeutics is the reason I’m the only one in my immediate family who has not needed orthopedic surgery.
So how does yoga therapy work best?
1 – Have an attitude of hope and possibility
Far too often when we get hurt or have a chronic injury, we give up on the practice, or limit certain poses instead of pushing some boundaries and finding a way to healing.
Attitude is one of the main components necessary for a successful therapeutic process. Your positive attitude in mind, body, and heart can make the difference between rapid healing and prolonged, chronic injury.
In addition, we must be willing to look at all the faces of our injury:
– Who we are in moments of pain and difficulty?
– How it is “serving us” to hold on to our injuries?
– Do you identify as an injured person or could you shift your identity to include more positive archetypes?
2 – Get a whole-body understanding of alignment and form, both on and off the mat.
Why? Because good alignment is good therapy.
As a vinyasa student, when I first started learning alignment-based yoga, I would get so annoyed when the teacher would break up the flow to workshop a pose. But that didn’t last long – it took a wrist injury for me to slow down enough to be motivated to learn.
I know it can be hard for some of us to slow down, but if you push through or ignore pain, you might end up with chronic issues that don’t improve.
However, if you’re willing to dive into the learning process you will become fascinated with your body’s miraculous complexity, become a scholar of alignment, and as such you will have more success in clearing and preventing injury.
While alignment is complex and requires time to understand, the good news is that anyone can learn it eventually.
Once you have a degree of mastery, alignment principles can be applied as often as possible both on and off the mat: at work, walking, waiting in line, driving, etc.
After all, your yoga practice should serve to reinforce and support your everyday posture and alignment.
3 – Put your therapeutic practice into action consistently.
In order for success in the therapeutic process, you’ve got to do the work, practise consistently and commit to caring for your injury and body every day.
All the positive attitude and education in the world will do nothing if you do not put what you’ve learned into action and get on your mat to practise.
It’s important to have a number of practices ready that you (or your students) can do on a daily basis to strengthen and align the body to help speed the healing process.
Sometimes this consistent action is not just about practising on the mat, action could also look like:
– Applying arnica oil on the injury 2x a day
– Icing an injured joint 3x a day
– Doing a therapeutic exercise on the way to or from a bathroom break at the office
– Focusing on your alignment in your ordinary life – at your desk, in your car, waiting on line, or during errands
The rubber really hits the road when you’re able to take action not because you “have to” but because you will feel better when you do.
In summary, while it might be tempting to run away from our injuries or pain, give up on yoga, or wallow in negativity – I promise – leaning into the therapeutic process always yields a better outcome, even if the yoga looks different than it once did. You’ll be glad you tried.
Amy Ippoliti is an American yoga teacher, author and earth conservationist. She is the co-founder of 90 Monkeys, an online and in-person school for advanced yoga education. Amy has studied yoga for over 30 years and has been teaching since 1997. She is known for her genuine teaching style, intelligent sequencing, clear instruction and engaging sense of humor. Learn more at www.amyippoliti.com and www.90monkeys.com.