The mission of the Integrative Yoga Therapeutics 200-hour Teacher Training Program is to promote the development of embodied awareness in our yoga teachers and, by extension, our practice community. Today, more practitioners come to yoga classes with physical injuries, nervous system dysregulation, immune disorders, chronic pain, emotional issues, and more. The current climate makes it essential to teach group classes from a therapeutic perspective. We aim to provide the highest caliber of mind-body training to help yoga teachers, mental health professionals, and bodyworkers teach yoga therapeutically and with sensitivity not only to the physical body but the entire Mind-Body Network of their students. Graduates of our 200-hour Teacher Training are able to teach group classes that help practitioners reduce stress, awaken internal awareness, shift long-held patterns, and enhance growth and healing.
This training is infused with Bo’s extensive background in psychology, education, clinical supervision, and yoga therapy. The course material synthesizes yoga, psychology, and science. It is rooted in classical yoga, yet infused with current research and a 21st century context. Throughout the training year, Bo pays particular attention to the sequencing of course material. You’ll experience her unique and integrative teaching style as she introduces key concepts, and then builds upon them progressively and incrementally throughout the year. You’ll also receive the expertise of three of the country’s best teachers: Edwin Bryant, Ph.D. (Yoga Philosophy), Nicolai Bachman, M.A. (Sanskrit), Lou Benson, L.M.T. (Yoga Anatomy), and Coeli Marsh (The Process of Teaching).
Integrative Yoga Therapeutics™
Integrative Yoga Therapeutics™ forms the heart of our Teacher Training Program. Created by Bo Forbes, Integrative Yoga Therapeutics combines both Eastern and Western healing systems. This unique method draws from Bo's two decades of experience in Clinical Psychology, education, yoga, and yoga therapy; its central focus is the Mind-Body Network, the intricate communications superhighway that links the nervous system, immune system, mental body, emotional body, physical body, enteric nervous system, pain modulation pathways, and more. Throughout the training, we explore this network as it applies to anatomy, alignment, asana, assisting, therapeutic sequencing, and the application of yoga- and mindfulness-based tools for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual transformation.
Bo pays particular attention to the sequencing of our course material. You'll experience her unique and integrative teaching style as she lays the scaffolding for her therapeutic approach and then builds upon it progressively and incrementally throughout the course, just as she does in a therapeutic asana class. To this end, Bo introduces key concepts and revisits them later in different contexts, helping you to contextualize and integrate the course material. You'll also receive the benefit of several assistant teachers who visit the class and share with you their unique distillation of class material and the ways in which this therapeutic approach has influenced their teaching path.
The therapeutic component of this program is deeply experiential and kinesthetic, and takes place in live clinic settings. These clinics involve real people from the community. This gives our teachers-in-training the opportunity to see physical and emotional imbalances expressed in "live" students, and to observe the efficacy of therapeutic yoga interventions in action.
The Neurobiology of Yoga and the Mind-Body Matrix
This module sets the foundation for our yearlong study in Integrative Yoga Therapeutics. We journey deep into the Mind-Body Network, getting to know the eight primary bodies and their roles in both dis-ease and healing. We explore Bo’s concept of the Yoga Practice Laboratory, a key element of therapeutic growth and change. We create the scaffolding for this laboratory, in which we examine 'Infrastructure Interventions,' therapeutic tools that change the entire structure of our yoga practice. We also explore neuroplasticity, the science behind the way we create our patterns—and also change them—and how the practice of yoga influences change. In this module, Bo lays out the neural, biological, and psychological underpinnings of yoga, creating a framework for understanding how and why yoga is such an effective healing modality.
In this module we begin svadhaya, the art of self-study and embodied insight. This element of the training is predicated upon the concept that excellence in the teaching of yoga (particularly with a strong therapeutic focus) requires a strong commitment to one's own growth and healing. Together with Bo and your colleagues, you create a blueprint for self-study to extend throughout the training year and beyond; this blueprint is founded on the intersection between yoga, psychology, mindfulness, and infused with your own personal themes relating to growth and change.
As a teacher-in-training, your self-study will include an examination of your ‘signature samskaras’ and how they influence your path to self-awareness and your personal relationships. You will learn to ignite and potentiate an ongoing practice of self-exploration and reflection that will enhance your spiritual development and teaching ability. We offer you tools from the yoga and mindfulness traditions along the way that support you in this self-investigation. Bo believes that the mindfulness traditions greatly enrich the practice of yoga. Bill Morgan, Psy.D., one of our psychologist consultants and founding member of the Institute for Meditation in Psychotherapy, will teach a mini-module on Introduction to Mindfulness. Teachers-in-training will be required to have a minimum of two clinical supervision sessions, either with Dr. Morgan or another consulting psychologist: one of these sessions must take place between Modules I and II, and the other between Modules II and III. There will also be self-study writing assignments at the conclusion of each training module.
In Module I, we also study the neural mechanisms of emotional contagion and what it means to be an ‘empath.’ We explore how emotional contagion influences our personal and professional lives, and we set the foundation for the awareness, development, and regulation of empathic skills. Bo introduces her unique concept of ‘emotional immunity,’ the building of resilience to emotional contagion, and we explore infrastructure interventions from yoga therapeutics and the mindfulness tradition that help build emotional immunity. We also delve into the ethical principles of yoga as they apply to teaching and personal practice, exploring the dynamics of therapeutic work, the ethics of the student-teacher relationship, boundaries, and self-awareness.
Anatomy, Alignment, and the Physical Practice
Lou Benson guides us through an exploration of basic anatomy, reviewing the fascial and fluid systems of the body as well as the joint and muscle groups most pertinent to the practice of yoga. We will explore the insertions, attachments, and actions of certain muscle groups and fascia as they relate to asana. We will revisit and reexplore these concepts throughout the training year, noting how closely the structures of the physical body relate to other elements of the Mind-Body Network.
Using the framework of yoga anatomy, we examine ‘asana samskaras’ (patterns of movement and alignment) as a foundation for understanding asana in therapeutic terms. We undertake an in-depth study of the major yoga postures in the hatha vinyasa yoga system, as well as many therapeutic asanas and ‘blockwork poses’ particular to Bo’s unique system of asana. We review the finer points of alignment, focusing on the 'four grounds' of the feet, pelvis, thoracic spine, and cervical spine, with an eye toward the therapeutic applications of postures for creating maximum freedom and space in the body.
Restorative Yoga Therapeutics
In this 14-hour mini-module, Bo guides you through an experiential study of Restorative Yoga Therapeutics: the therapeutic use of restorative postures for mind-body healing. This practice is an integral portion of the teacher training. We discuss Restorative Yoga as ‘embodied meditation’ and explore the differences between Restorative Yoga, meditation, and sleep. We highlight Restorative Yoga’s influence on the nervous system and our stress response.
We also discuss Restorative Yoga’s impact on interoception (body awareness), ‘grounded empathy,’ and the ability to be present. We examine the impact of Restorative Yoga on our stories and ‘Meaning-Making Mechanisms.’ Bo shares observations from neuroscience, as well as her integrative psychotherapy and yoga therapy practices about Restorative Yoga’s effects on the fluctuations of the mind, nervous system, processing of interpersonal relationships, and creativity. Teachers-in-training will learn how to adapt Restorative Yoga to address the nervous system and the entire Mind-Body Network, both in their own practice and in class settings.
Finding Your Voice
Serving as a yoga teacher can be profoundly rewarding on many levels. It can also be intimidating, because at the end of the day, after all the study of alignment, anatomy, philosophy, and Sanskrit, you are primarily a public speaker. Speaking with power and clarity is central to teaching yoga, and the essential for sharing and facilitating transformation. However, for many new teachers, speaking in large or small groups can be daunting. Regardless of how much you 'know', if your communication is blocked, you will limit your professional development as well as your impact in the classroom.
In this training mini-module, we will explore how to refine voice projection and range, and choose words that are useful to our students. Through practice, discussion, and experiential learning we will identify how to effectively reach our audience, and tap into the most precious resource of all - your unique teaching voice. This portion of the training will be taught by Coeli Marsh.
Navigating the Business of Yoga
Most of us do not become yoga teachers because we love the world of business or hunger for competition and politics. More likely we've devoted time to this sacred study based on devotion to the practice and a deep respect for human beings. Nonetheless, yoga has become a billion-dollar industry. As yoga teachers we are under pressure to promote, sell, and negotiate as part of our professional work. We are expected to maneuver our way through a maze of complex industry and studio politics, inner circles, and commerce, all within the context of yoga and healing.
In this mini-module of the training, we will identify central aspects of the industry, and learn essential tools necessary for employment and success as a teacher. Of greatest importance, we will also explore how to do this professional work while maintaining integrity. This portion of the training will be taught by Coeli Marsh, and will be continued and further developed in Modules II and III.
Yoga: A Map to the Mind and Emotions
This module of the training underscores the ways in which our yoga practice can mirror, and bring healing to, each element of the Mind-Body Network. We look at the limbic system and emotional memory, and visit the ways in which mental and emotional strain and trauma can be housed in our physical and energetic bodies. We journey into the subtle body, exploring the nadi and chakra systems. We cover basic pranayama techniques, including ujjayi pranayama as it pertains to the vinyasa practice, as well as other pranayama techniques and their impact on the nervous system.
In this module, students learn how to conceptualize and diagram their samskaras. This ‘Samskara Mapping’ tool is then enriched and expanded throughout the training. Students have the opportunity to view their samskaras through the lens of the Mind-Body Network. Using tools from the Integrative Yoga Therapeutics method, we begin to lay the groundwork for transforming these samskaras over time.
The Art of Assisting: Vinyasa and Restorative Yoga Therapeutics
Drawing from our understanding of anatomy and alignment, we delve deeply into yoga's therapeutic potential in the class setting. We will explore the art of assisting students in postures using verbal directions, pressure point assists, physical assists, hands-on physical adjustments, and modification with props. Energy anatomy and body reading are a special focus as it pertains both to assisting and teaching...
Completion of the training requires assisting, with live supervision, ineight to ten (8-10) of Bo’s vinyasa classes. There are also three required supplementary three student clinics during the year (cost is minimal, and is an additional training cost for students). Run by graduates of the program, these clinics facilitate the assimilation of assisting skills. Additionally, trainees are also expected to practice in groups, providing one another with collegial supervision and practice opportunities as a key component of their therapeutic training. Students who wish to request participation in our National Assisting Rotation must also assist in Restorative Yoga Therapeutics classes with Bo's supervision, though assisting in these classes is not a requirement of the training.
Yoga Therapeutics I: Spinal Anomalies
The spine not only houses the nervous system, it acts as our skeletal and energetic backbone or support system in the world. Using Integrative Yoga Therapeutics, we learn about the physical, nervous system, and psychological correlates of spinal anomalies. Bo’s unique method of Integrative Yoga Therapeutics uses asymmetry in creative ways to restore balance, reduce discomfort and pain, improve alignment and health, and inaugurate a lifelong therapeutic practice.
In this mini-module you learn “skeleton protocols” for spinal anomalies. Then, “live” clients from the community participate in group sessions. Bo leads these clients through specially-designed therapeutic sequences that allow trainees to witness how protocols are modified to suit clients’ individual needs. You’ll apply your newly-acquired assisting skills to these clients in their sessions, thus scaffolding the acquisition and practice of these skills. Therapeutic issues in this mini-module include: spinal injuries and anomalies, scoliosis (s-curve), kyphosis (hunchback), lordosis (swayback), sacro-iliac (S.I.) joint dysfunction, and disc herniation and degeneration.
Sequencing: The Architecture of a Therapeutic Yoga Class
This component of the training, which was seeded in Module I, continues in an in-depth study of therapeutic sequencing. We explore the scaffolding, or building, of awareness, along a continuum from gross to subtle. We review the necessary ingredients for helping awareness develop through sequencing. We review in detail the skeleton of a therapeutic yoga practice, from the opening meditation to the final ‘therapeutic savasana.’
We explore ways to break down any pose into its component parts and actions. We address ‘Crescendo Poses’ and how to build up to them. We review ‘Therapeutic Counterbalancing’ for opening, strengthening, and releasing classes. Sequences for backbending, heart-opening, twisting, arm balancing, core-focused classes will be reviewed, as well as those for alleviating anxiety, insomnia, and depression.
Yoga Philosophy and the Study of Yogic Texts
Edwin Bryant, Ph.D, renowned professor of Hindu Philosophy at Rutgers University and author of several books on yoga, teaches the bulk of our yoga philosophy mini-module [link on Edwin’s name to www.edwinbryant.org]. We will undertake a study of the Bhagavad Gita, including the background and context for this and other classical texts of yoga. Interwoven throughout the yearlong study will also be selections from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Upanishads, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and other Vedic texts.
Yoga, Psychology, & Science: Healing Anxiety, Depression, and Chronic Stress
In this mini-module of the training, we take the most important findings from emerging research in neuroscience, yoga, and mindfulness. We translate this research into practical terms, creating our own learning laboratory for experience. In this laboratory, we play with the ‘infrastructure interventions’ that change the very nature of how we practice. We use these interventions to construct several cutting-edge practices and embodied experiences that shift the patterns of anxiety, depression, and chronic stress. Through subtle yet deeply powerful tools from the yoga and mindfulness traditions, we’ll learn how to soothe the mind, regulate the nervous system, pranify the physical body, and enhance immunity, forging a direct path to optimal functioning.
Yoga Therapeutics II: Anxiety, Depression, Hypermobility, Arthritis, and Pregnancy
This mini-module follows the same format as Yoga Therapeutics I, and involves live clients from the community who volunteer for group sessions. We work with clients in the following groupings: physical injuries, chronic pain disorders such as fibromyalgia and arthritis, hypermobility, pregnancy, and emotional issues such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, and mixed anxiety and depression.
Sanskrit: The Language of Yoga
This portion of the training will be taught by Nicolai Bachman of Sanskrit Sounds (www.sanskritsounds.com), who has authored several books on Sanskrit and Ayurveda. Under Nicolai’s expert guidance, we immerse ourselves in the study of Sanskrit, the original language of yoga. We learn the basics of the Sanskrit language, including asana names and the stories behind them. We also experience the power and resonance of the sound of yoga through learning and chanting selections from portions of yogic texts and mantras. Learning these key terms in depth broadens our understanding of yoga and how it describes human consciousness.
Sequencing: The Finale and Teaching Lab
In this final module of the training, participants begin to synthesize the lifelong roles of student and teacher. We take our foundational knowledge of therapeutic sequencing, using the building blocks of a class to facilitate advanced postures, the opening of particular parts of the body, classes of postures, actions within postures, or effects of postures. We also look at sequencing targeted to impact students' mental and emotional bodies, therapeutic sequencing to deal with injuries, asymmetries, and special issues, and individualized sequences for trainees' home practice.
In this module, trainees work more in-depth in developing their own therapeutic sequences. Here, they seed and nourish the lifelong development of their teaching voice. They begin to teach to one another and to gradutes of our program who are on hand to offer support and valuable feedback. Our graduating teachers sequence and together teach one of Bo’s public classes as a celebration and acknowledgment of their year of exploration and growth.