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02 Jul
Posted by Nikola Ellis

Yoghurt Head – Ayurveda Adventures in South India

 

In the humid air of the South Indian monsoon, a faint whiff of fermenting milk emanates from my head. Despite two rinses, the gentle aroma of organic buttermilk lingers from my afternoon Ayurvedic treatment.

 

I’m here in Tamil Nadu for Pancha Karma, a comprehensive cleansing and healing process that is central to India’s ancient system of medicine, Ayurveda. Pancha Karma (meaning ‘five actions’) can get to the root of health problems that western medicine struggles to manage – auto-immune diseases like Hashimoto’s and Rhuematoid Arthritis, skin problems like eczema, allergies, asthma, Parkinson’s, cancer, addictions and more.

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17 May
Posted by Nikola Ellis

How to teach yoga for eating disorders

 

Does yoga help people with eating disorders? What kind of yoga is best? Can yoga actually be harmful? These are some of the questions I wanted to answer when I embarked on a research project about yoga therapy for eating disorders, working with young people in the adolescent medicine unit at Westmead Children's Hospital in Sydney. 

 

I recently presented that research at the Yoga Australia conference in Melbourne, where I realised I'm not the only one asking those questions. Yoga teachers, psychologists, parents and teachers are all interested in how to harness the benefits of yoga to support people struggling with eating disorders, especially anorexia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of all mental health issues and those working and living with people with anorexia want to be sure that the yoga practices they introduce to their clients and family members are safe and effective. 

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20 Mar
Posted by Nikola Ellis

When yoga teachers should stop teaching Yoga (and do something more useful).

So, yoga changed your life. It shook you down, cleared your head and turned your whole life around. Naturally, you want to share that with the world, so you decide to become a yoga teacher. Now you’re qualified help others experience the mind-blowing power of yoga that has given you so much. Excellent!

 

But is more yoga what the world needs?

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14 Mar
Posted by Nikola Ellis

Is yoga therapy an actual career?

Congratulations! You've graduated from your Yoga Therapy training! So, now what....? Does being a yoga therapist help you get more work? What kind of roles do yoga therapists take on ? In short, is being a yoga therapist an actual career? If you're deciding if you should become a yoga therapist, these are important questions.

 

Not so long ago, yoga therapy was unheard of. Yoga teachers taught classes in studios, gyms and their own homes and, while yoga was generally thought of as a healthy thing, the benefits weren't clear. But in recent years, all that has changed.

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15 Jan
Posted by Nikola Ellis

Yoga Therapy for Shoulder Bursitis

Shoulder Bursitis is a common injury that we see in many people visiting the Adore Yoga Therapy Clinic. It’s painful and, if left untreated, can lead to restricted mobility and ongoing shoulder pain. Yoga Therapy can be a very helpful adjunctive treatment - here’s a primer on working with students with shoulder bursitis.

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25 Oct
Posted by Nikola Ellis

What is yoga therapy?

Yoga Therapy is getting a lot of attention - yoga teachers, researchers and the media are all talking about it. But what exactly is yoga therapy and how is it different to regular yoga teaching? Here are two definitions of Yoga Therapy:

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17 Oct
Posted by Nikola Ellis

Yoga for Heart Disease

 

Heart disease is the single leading cause of death in Australia. There is now a significant body of research to demonstrate that Yoga Therapy can play an important role in helping people to manage heart disease.

 

The European Journal of Preventative Cardiology found that yoga (and not the active, exercise kind of yoga) is comparable to walking and biking when it comes to cardiovascular health.

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15 Oct
Posted by Nikola Ellis

Take two down dogs - what yoga therapy isn't

 

“What yoga pose is good for back pain?” I’m sitting opposite Jade a newly qualified yoga teacher who’s just started mentoring with me. “Well”, I begin, “where is the pain?” Jade describes her student’s lower back pain and I ask a few more questions. How did the pain start? What is the student’s lifestyle? I suggest a few simple poses and ask Jade to teach them to me. She teaches the asanas, but doesn’t pay much attention to the breath. When I ask about her instructions for the breath, she seems surprised. “I thought we were focusing on the lower back,” she replies.

 

It’s never about the lower back. Or the neck pain. Or the anxiety. Or the eczema. As a yoga therapist, it’s always about the whole person. While it would be great if there was a yoga pose to fix every health issue (imagine a doctor prescribing ‘take two down dogs and call me in the morning!’), therapeutic yoga is a more subtle approach to wellbeing. It’s also more thorough. Jade’s student certainly needs to work on stretching and strengthening his back in order to relieve the pain, but any qualified physiotherapist could provide a set of exercises that would do that.  Why do yoga if a physio can fix it?

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28 Aug
Posted by Nikola Ellis

Yoga, Karma and Social Justice

 

Something happened to me after I’d been practicing yoga for a few months. I started to feel connected to the world around me in ways I’d never experienced before.

 

I first came to yoga as a way to manage crippling panic attacks and find some peace of mind at a difficult time in my life. While yoga certainly helped me deal with my own problems, it also opened up a new awareness of the ways in which my thoughts, feelings and actions were intricately bound up with the lives of others. Bit by bit, I began to move from feeling isolated in my own struggles to appreciating the interconnectedness between myself and the wider world.

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17 Aug
Posted by Nikola Ellis

Why yoga needs a fact-check

Many of us in the field of yoga and other complementary therapies are guided by our hearts. That’s one of the great strengths of natural therapies – being able to connect with clients on an intuitive level and offering more than a formulaic treatment plan. We are also our own favourite guinea pigs – talk to any yoga teacher or complementary therapist and you’re likely to find a personal story of overcoming health problems by using the techniques that they now offer to others. Again, that’s a great strength, giving practitioners deep insight and empathy for clients who are tackling their own health challenges.

 

However it’s important to recognise that just because something works for you (or your kids or somebody else you know), it doesn’t necessarily make it effective for everybody else. Whether it’s a yoga pose or a natural remedy, we cannot assume that something works just because it feels good. If it works for you, AWESOME! Keep going. But if you’re selling your treatment to a client, it’s important to understand the evidence base for what you’re giving them.

 

As the director of an accredited Yoga Therapy training program, I place a strong emphasis on encouraging yoga teachers to develop their understanding and appreciation of the evidence base for what they're learning. There are a lot of claims made in the name of yoga, but some of those claims need a fact-check.

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