Podcast: Ep #236: Healing & Synergy: How Being a Great Teacher is Key to Helping Your Clients Out Pain with Ruth Ann Penny

From Pain to Possibility with Susi Hately | Healing & Synergy: How Being a Great Teacher is Key to Helping Your Clients Out of Pain with Ruth Ann Penny

In this episode in the Healing & Synergy mini-series I’m speaking with Ruth Ann Penny, veteran educator and teacher of therapeutic and functional yoga for older adults, about the role of teachers in helping clients out of pain.

Many of us in Western culture have a rigid understanding of the student-teacher relationship—one that places teachers in positions of authority to which students are taught to defer. But helping our clients to heal requires a relationship of exchange.

Listen in as Ruth Ann and I share an in-depth discussion on our role as effective teachers, empowering our clientele to develop an inner locus of control, and forming a healing relationship with our patients.

If you're interested in improving your healing skills with a more guided approach, join my Yoga Therapy Certification. Click here to register.

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What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why teachers should be viewed as experts rather than authority figures.

  • How to form a relationship of exchange with your clients.

  • Why therapeutic teachers are not responsible for a client’s rehabilitation journey.

  • How to truly evaluate your work with a client in pain. 

Featured on the Show:

  • If you're interested in improving your healing skills with a more guided approach, join my Yoga Therapy Certification. Click here to register.
  • Join the next Therapeutic Yoga Intensive on April 20–25, 2024 by registering here.
  • Ready to learn to listen to your body? Email [email protected] for a customized learning path.

Full Episode Transcript:

Male Announcer: You’re listening to From Pain to Possibility with Susi Hately. You will hear Susi’s best ideas on how to reduce or even eradicate your pain and learn how to listen to your body when it whispers so you don’t have to hear it scream. And now here’s your host, Susi Hately.

Welcome and welcome back. We are in the middle of this mini series on healing and synergy. And I’m so glad that you’re here because we are going to get into a juicy, juicy, juicy topic today and it’s really about our role as teachers, our role as an expert versus an authority in the relationship of working with clientele and supporting them in the healing process.

I think about this a lot. I have a big, big role, obviously, to play in helping my clients reduce and eradicate physical pain and I’ve said this before on episodes where I’m not the one doing it. I won’t say I reduce and eradicate physical pain for somebody. I help them do that.

And since I’ve been saying that more often, more trainees and more non-trainees, like non-professionals, like those who are seeking my help with one to ones, they’ve been asking me more about that particular statement. And so I wanted to do an episode on this to really flesh out some ideas and pull in the brain power and expertise of Ruth Ann Penny.

And Ruth Ann, I like to call her the true blue educator, she comes from a teaching background. She was a principal, she was an education consultant, now she’s a graduate of my IAYT accredited yoga therapy program. She also does some teaching inside of it and really brings just a wealth of wisdom and solid, solid understanding of what it is as a role of teachers.

So today I’m going to welcome her, she’ll share a little bit about her background to give some context. And I want to kind of unpack this idea of our role as an expert, as a teacher in the healing process and really how the act of teaching, like the act of teaching movement helps to improve function.

And we’re likely going to kind of go off on some different tangents here, as we often do. But as with all of our other episodes and conversations, there’s so much here. So I’m kind of hoping that we’re going to open up some ideas that are not often spoken about. Or maybe they’re spoken about over wine or chai or kombucha, and start this dialogue of what it is.

Because as many of you know who follow me, I have the Healing Helix. I use that very often, it’s part of what I see as fundamental to the process of helping someone recover, which at the core of it is the healing relationship between my student and myself or my trainees and myself or the group and myself. And what’s at the basis of that.

And through the process of teaching I’ve certainly bumped into obstacles, some of them I’ve spoken about on this podcast. And just as I evolve as a teacher and as I really, really get comfortable and clear in various levels, I just get better and better. So I want to share some of those ideas and really unpack some things with Ruth Ann. And I really think you’re going to enjoy the episode.

So, welcome, Ruth Ann. Do you want to share a little bit more about yourself to give some context to this?

Ruth Ann: Sure. Hi, Susi. Hi, everybody. Nice to be back here in the Functional Synergy world again. Yeah, I’m a career teacher. I was a career teacher. I was in formal, ordinary education as a teacher of young kids, then older kids, then adults. For over 40 years, as Susie says, I was a teacher. I began in kindergarten, ended up teaching all the grades. I ended up being a counselor, a vice principal, a principal consultant advisor.

And what began to interest me more and more as my career went on, as a matter of fact it began fairly early, was my interest in how teachers learn. How teachers learn to be who they are in a classroom situation and what influences the learning that happens in terms of who the teacher is.

So early on, I began to work in that area and study in that area. My master’s degree was in adult education within the context of the world of education. And then when I retired, I just sort of continued to pull that thread along. I asked myself, okay, what am I going to do? Well, I love yoga and I love teaching, so I’m going to try and put that together.

I became a yoga teacher and eventually a yoga therapist. And what has always been at the heart of what I’ve liked to do the best is watching, feeling, being part of, intimately at some points, the part of the teacher-learning relationship. What’s happening in that moment when something is being exchanged between teacher and student.

Susi: And what I love about it is I remember when the IAYT was starting off the process of defining yoga therapy, I sort of made it my mission to ask myself, what is yoga therapy? And I spent some time one summer going to a lot of different classes and I happened to be traveling a lot during that particular summer. So I was in different locations and geographies and cultures and just listening to what I was hearing.

And in the end, what I came to is, when I think about great therapists, great therapists are helping people learn some skills and tools. And when I’m thinking about my role as a yoga teacher/yoga therapist, I am teaching skills and tools to resolve problems.

And the key word there is teaching skills and tools and resolving. And so they’re doing the work of resolving, and they’re resolving it by way of teaching skills and tools. So to me, that really distinguishes this from a fix, right? So I go to a professional and they do a fix of sorts and it could be anything. I mean, it could even be a stretch. Like a stretch can be a fix. Needling can be a fix. An adjustment can be a fix.

Anything can be a fix. And the aim of what I’m doing within my process is I’m helping people recognize that, let’s say they need the fix to get some relief, then what contributed to that relief starting to fade? Can they tune into recognizing the various things that are going on in their body, listening to the whispers, so to speak?

And so I’m teaching that that’s the fundamental piece of really listening into their bodies and then acting on that, so they’ve got clarity of what’s going on inside. So then they can apply a stimulus, whether it’s a stretch, a movement, a breath technique, or maybe something external to them. And then they get the feedback inside as to what’s working and what’s not working.

And so my role is to teach them those skills and tools to discover that for themselves. And ultimately they grow this internal locus of control, which is the greatest amount of support I think someone can have for themselves.

Now, what’s interesting about this is that when we think about a lot of relationships in the healing specter or the recovery specter, a lot of it’s this power over relationship. The professional has the authority. And even in the past in the yoga world, there was this guru thing where the guru has the authority and must listen to the guru. And I just eschew that so much.

And to me, it’s more like we aren’t power over, we are power with. And I see my students or my trainees having a ton of knowledge and information that’s already serving. And I have great expertise that we can then merge this together. And there are times, and Ruth Ann and I were talking about this before we started recording, and we’ve talked at length about this at other times, that that can sometimes be an uncommon relationship, because of the way, even in the teaching realm, it happens.

The great teachers totally get that. But in our medical model, that’s not the way it is, right? So in the yoga therapy world, the way I see it is we’re really kind of having to press through some, how do I want to put it? It’s like we’re all swimming in this unconscious pool of, this is an authority figure, right?

And so we’re kind of pushing through that model, pushing through that paradigm into a place where that person who’s coming to learn. There’s an ownership there, right? Reciprocity is a word we both use. There’s a relationship that gets to be nurtured, yeah?

Ruth Ann: Yes, for sure. For sure. In our Western culture, in Western modern liberal education, we’ve adopted that model for 200 years or longer of the teacher as the font of all knowledge. I mean, this predates even people being literate, right? You depended on the priest or the authority figure to tell you what you needed to know. And that persists even today, although it’s waning, thank God.

Moreover, all of us of my generation and probably of yours, Susi, and younger people than us have gone through a school system in North America, particularly in the West, where there was a teacher at the front of the classroom and we sat at our desks, or maybe we sat in a circle. But that person had authority in that domain. And one of our jobs was to respect that authority.

As we become adults, if you’re meeting an adult and both of you have had more than 50 years on this planet, for you to assume, as teacher, that you can be in a relationship like the one that was at play when you were in grade five with your teacher/student relationship is a real mistake. Because as you say, the person who’s coming to you, particularly in a therapeutic relationship where they’re coming with a physical problem, let’s say, that they need some help with, they’re coming to you with, as you say, all kinds of knowledge, conscious or unconscious, of what’s going on inside them.

And so to assume we know already before they even appear and to display lack of interest in the whole person that’s in front of us is bad teaching right off the get-go. So yeah, I see us today in the modern world in the west, dealing with these cultural norms that we’re finally starting to push through. Because if any of us were asked to name a terrific teacher from the past, I bet any money it would be a teacher who had an openness, a curiosity, a kindness, patience, all of the things on the human side or on the relational side that made the learning possible for you as a student.

Content knowledge, yeah, in our case, we got to know our anatomy. We got to know our biology and our biomechanics. That’s kind of table stakes, but that’s the easy part. The rest, the development of the relationship, the honing of skills, that’s an exchange.

Susi: And what’s so interesting about this that really needs to be spoken out loud, and I was saying this to the certification trainees just this past week, which is, you all have to know that I have no idea what I’m doing.

Now, to make this public on a podcast might sound like a stupid idea, but let me give context to this. I have no idea what’s going on in someone’s body. I have no idea. I have a wealth of knowledge around anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, I’ve built out a tremendous body of knowledge around mind/body connection and other biological processes of nervous system down regulation. Like there’s a wealth of knowledge that I have, but the reality is I have zero idea on what’s going on in someone’s body.

Even if someone were to tell me what their MRI has said or what their X-ray report says, those are all images in a moment of time. Kirsten Richardson, who’s our PT on staff, she likes to call an MRI as being, well, there’s a telephone, but do we know the telephone’s ringing, right?

So even that, it’s like a moment in time. So we see, okay, great, there’s stenosis. Okay, now what? A diagnosis of stenosis does not mean anything other than a diagnosis of stenosis. We can find all the literature about what might be limited or what might be unlimited, but I know people with stenosis who move amazingly well, you’re one of them. And I know that’s so funny I brought that example up because I’d forgotten that. And then there’s other people with stenosis that are just, they’re in a totally different camp.

Same thing with EDS, hypermobility disorder, same thing with disk protrusion. Same thing with, so to say that, oh, this person has this thing, anatomically or physiologically, going on in their body means this is just not accurate.

So for me to kind of wade in with that lens of like, okay, well, this is what we’re going to do because this is du, du, du, is doing such a disservice. Like I can’t even tell you how much of a disservice that is. And so what I said to my certification people, and again, this might be a risk saying this out loud to all of the world, but I said, you know what? I actually want you to not know what you’re doing at the end of this. And what you can see is what’s most important.

So you have no idea what’s going on in someone’s body because none of us do. There could be all sorts of things going on in someone’s body that we have no idea about. And yet what we can see is what we see. We see the body movement. We see their breathing. We hear what they’re saying. We hear what they’re not saying. We hear all of those things and all the things that they’re not saying, and I mentioned that already, and pulling that all together and then teaching.

And that is where the magic happens. That is where we start, in the words you’ve used with me is like that’s where we start to build the hypothesis. So I’m going to give you the mic now. Let’s talk about taking all of that and then formulating a hypothesis, like how that works. And then that process of testing it out.

Ruth Ann: Well, certainly what you say about being knowledgeable is important. So there’s a baseline. You’re going to approach that client knowing what you know and knowing what they have told you or shown you or whatever. That’s all great background information. And then you start.

And you start by, I would say, supplying them with a stimulus or an experience. You’ve got to start somewhere, so you start somewhere and you supply, what you call it a stimulus, sometimes in the world I grew up in teaching, we call it an experience. You’re going to design something and they’re going to experience it.

Both of you at the same time, it’s much like your Healing Helix, are in that experience and both of you right away are observing what’s happening, right? And you may have to observe it for a mere 10 seconds or you may have to observe it for hours, days, weeks and months. But as you move through, you are living inside of that stimulus and observing sensorily by watching, by listening, by touching or feeling and listening to them as they use all their sensory avenues.

And based on everything that you’ve observed, you begin together to make an analysis. You say, okay, if this is what we’re seeing or feeling or hearing or sensing, what do we think is really going on here? Hmm, could be that, you know what? You’re not standing on all three points of your foot. I don’t know, you make an analysis based on what you observe.

And from that analysis you the teacher, maybe with the student eventually too, and I think that would be optimal. But you the teacher, you the therapist move from that analysis to hypothesize, to develop an idea for what might be the next stimulus that you would offer to begin that cycle again of experiencing it, observing it, analyzing it and then moving on to the next hypothesis.

And when you get to the hypothesis part, that’s where the teacher bears, at least initially in the relationship, the responsibility. It’s my responsibility as the therapist to postulate that what might be required next or might be helpful next or might be interesting to try next is X.

And with the agreement, and this is key, of my student who’s an adult or my client, I say, how about we try this next and see what happens? So my ability as a therapist or teacher to be willing to take that risk and hypothesize is really critical to making sure that the healing process keeps on marching forward, that this journey that you’re on keeps on progressing.

And it’s not going to progress in a straight line. You’re going to offer stimuli that don’t work. You’re going to observe something that’s unexpected. You’re going to make the wrong analysis or you’re going to be slightly off or whatever. But as long as you, at that moment of “what do I do next” or a hypothesis, are willing to take the risk and try it, you keep on learning more because you launch yourself into the next cycle of stimulus and observation and experience.

So, I often think that when I get to the hypothesis point, after I’ve done my best to observe and analyze, I often have those moments of thinking, I don’t know what to do. I don’t really know what’s happening next. But then what I have to say to myself is, but wait a minute, we can try something or we can try something again.

And that’s what I mean by hypothesis. And that’s the risk-taking part that a lot of your students, your trainees are scared of. They think that if they don’t feel perfectly confident at that moment of offering a new stimulus, if they don’t feel perfectly expert and perfectly confident and exactly right, then something’s lacking in them as a therapist.

Susi: And that’s actually the process of growth and of learning and of moving from where they are at the beginning of the program to graduating at the end of the program, is that they have confidence in not knowing actually what’s happening over there.

And I think what’s so interesting about this is because in the medical model there is this idea that the professional absolutely knows. And there’s a lot of yoga teachers and yoga therapists who think less of themselves because they perceive these other professionals as knowing what they’re doing.

And here’s two stories, really short stories that really highlight that that’s not actually the case. And one of them was years ago I brought in a few PTs to do some real-time ultrasound and it was sort of looking at the transverse abdominis, pelvic floor, diaphragm. And it was an in-service with some other teachers that were working with me at the time.

And it was so hysterical because one of my teachers, she was on the bed when they were doing the real-time ultrasound and they were doing some work with her pelvic floor and her neck released. And the release happened and the response was just so unbelievably cool. And we were all like, oh my God, that’s so wild, like just seeing how it all unfolded. Not surprising that it happened because we know these things happen, but how it happened was crazy.

And then the PT kind of smiled and she said, oh, well, yes, that’s very expected. And she’s laughing because what she said is, this is when you now say to your client that was totally expected, which it entirely was not, right? And so then what the professional is doing is maintaining this air of, oh yeah, totally expected, right? So then we had this fun.

And then there was a physician who was in one of my therapeutic yoga intensives and we were talking about intuition. And I asked her, I said, so I know that you must follow the standard of care. I said, have you ever utilized your intuition in terms of choosing or saying, yes, we need to do certain tests? And she said, let me put it this way. All the times I followed my intuition and said let’s do this test, I was very grateful that I followed it.

So it’s like, there’s all sorts of reality out there that’s not spoken about, but the good professionals aren’t just relying on the objective facts that are seen in front. It’s a much broader game than that. And I like to say that all I have are my eyes and my heart and my ability to see and my ability to teach. And I’m not saying that in a deprecating way.

I’m saying that I don’t have a scalpel. I don’t have pins. I don’t have manual techniques. I don’t have any of that stuff. So really my job is to pull together all of these pieces, seeing the bigger pattern at play, and then helping the student feel into that for themselves.

And that’s what I’m teaching them how to do because, again, as I mentioned at the beginning, when I can help someone grow their own internal locus of control, when I can ultimately help them become their own best teacher, then the job’s done. I become a trusted advisor. They can feel into what’s going on inside and they’re not putting their locus of control external to them.

And there’s more and more research that’s showing when you put the onus on somebody else external to you or on something external to you, biologically you can’t get into the zone. You can’t get into flow. You can’t get into that kind of rhythm, that internal rhythm that we all know, that zone-y in zone-y feeling. So when we cultivate that, that changes the game, yeah?

Ruth Ann: Right. So one’s willingness as a therapist or teacher to help someone along to the point where they don’t need you anymore is the real goal. I would say that if someone that’s a therapist or a teacher can’t get out of that insecurity, I would call it, of needing to be the authority all the time, then they themselves are putting between them and the client’s learning an obstacle, an additional obstacle.

And if we want to speak in yoga speak, yoga is the removal of obstacles, right? You yourself as the teacher are putting an obstacle to learning in their way, rather than removing one. And so that is always something that I think teachers have to think about. It’s part of the discipline. It’s part of your responsibility to try and keep away from that tendency, which is so deeply, deeply built into us in this culture, or that need.

So yeah, for sure, I believe that in a group of adults, if I’m coming in to teach a group of adults or I’m working in a therapeutic setting, the responsibility I bear for knowing my craft, keeping up to date on all my knowledge, making sure I’m widening my scope, I’m deepening my understanding. Yeah, I do have that responsibility, but that’s not the same as claiming authority, especially over someone else’s body.

I mean, when you say that out loud, it’s almost cringe worthy, because if you walked into a situation where someone claimed to know what was going on in your body, you would turn around and walk out the door, right? You would. So our situation is where we bear the most responsibility is trying not to be the authority while still trying to maintain and be responsible for as much of our expert knowledge as possible.

And as you said earlier, it made me think of a story, you don’t know what’s going on inside that person’s body. But you have seen hundreds of times similar patterns operating. You have this broad array of things that you know about. And because you have been observing for years and years and decades and decades, you can start to extrapolate and pull together and see patterns and make observations, probably initially that your client might not be able to do.

Similarly, when I was a teacher in a classroom a parent would say, you don’t know my child as well as I do. And I would say, you are 100% right, I don’t. But I know thousands of 10-year-olds, right? I’ve seen thousands of kids go down this road and I know patterns. And I can offer you this pattern that I know about for your contemplation, for your consideration.

So yeah, you don’t know exactly what’s happening in any one individual person that you work with, but you know a lot and you can see patterns, and that’s critical.

So yeah, you offer the patterns, I think. You offer your knowledge, and eventually, they absorb it into themselves and they don’t need you to make that offering anymore. To me, that’s at the heart of teaching. So whatever stands between you and doing that is an obstacle that you yourself are responsible for removing.

Susi: You know, it’s interesting, I remember I used to take a huge amount of responsibility for, maybe the word responsibility is not quite the right word, but I’ll use it just because I can’t think of a better one. You probably will hear a word come through better. But whether someone got out of pain or didn’t get out of pain, whether a trainee got through this space and was able to get through that paradigm and into that new space of what I really see as the role as a teacher, I loaded myself down with making sure that they got there, yeah?

It was really heavy for me when it didn’t happen. Like I had done something wrong. Like I was not playing my A game. And I took, I’ll use the word responsibility, but again, I don’t think it’s quite the right word. I made it my mission that every time that didn’t happen, it was like, okay, what didn’t work here? What can I improve? How can I improve this process?

And then one day, I was listening to another great teacher talk and they said, and they weren’t directing it to me, they were directing it to a group. Their results are not your responsibility. And it was like, one of those moments where it was like whiplash in a sense. I kind of was like, what? What are you talking about?

And then that’s where something just in a moment just kind of cracked open for me. I was like, oh my God, you’re right, it’s not my responsibility because I have zero control, zero control over what someone does with the information that I share with them. So how can I be ultimately responsible for them getting any result, whether it’s considered one that’s positive or not?

The reason I brought this up is because it builds upon what you just said, what am I responsible for? And that was the game changer for me where it was like, I am responsible for how I show up. I am responsible for all the things I can control, which is the things you just mentioned around my own knowledge, my own breath, my way of teaching and how I show up. And that was, that became like a real game changer.

And it was interesting because even though I’ve always been a curious cat and that’s a trait of mine that’s been very, very helpful with the results my clientele get, this just opened up the space. Because I was no longer kind of inadvertently in that space, which someone can feel, right? I was no longer in that space on some energetic level saying, “Come on, get this. You got to get this. You got to get this.” I removed all of that from the space and it cleaned everything up so much more.

So it’s almost like letting go, it’s kind of like a thing with my kids, sometimes I have to let my kids work through something and not get in their way. Their learning process is them going through some stuff that’s difficult, as a mother, to watch them go through. And it’s kind of similar in this regard too, sometimes I have to just let them work through it.

Ruth Ann: Well, part of that absolutely is true of all learning in any domain. The distance between what is taught and what is learned could be decades long and thousands of miles wide, right? Someone said something to you or showed you something four decades ago, and one day you’re on the ski slope and you think, oh, I just learned what that person was teaching me when I was 16 or whatever.

So yeah, you cannot control when the learning is going to happen or if it’s going to happen. And this brings me back, you speak about responsibility, so your responsibility is, one, to show up and be knowledgeable on those things. But it’s also your responsibility to both you and your student not to take responsibility for their learning. And they can’t make you responsible. If they’re bent on making you responsible for their learning, then they’ll never progress, right?

So discomfort or comfort with their own autonomy is something that you may not be able to change ever. It may be something that is locked in deep in them, and your ability to accept that and continue to offer the skills and offer the patterns and offer the insights, you just keep doing it in the hope that maybe someday they will.

So yeah, it’s not something you can measure. And often, when I was teaching, people would say, geez, I just wish I was a carpenter instead. I could tell when the nail went in or the house fell down. I would know I get the immediate feedback. But in this healing relationship, in a therapeutic teaching relationship, that kind of satisfaction isn’t always immediately available to you. So then whose ego problem is it?

Susi: But you know, too, I’m harkening what I just shared and some of the other things I’ve shared so far in this episode. Actually all of that learning and understanding has actually made me more in love with teaching because I’m clearer on where my role lies. And I’m clearer on how I roll out the carpet for my client. And my curiosity and my sense of openness with whatever is happening, where I measure from is just entirely different.

And so one of the things that I share with my certification trainees is at the very beginning I say, listen, there’s not an A, B, C, D, E, or F in this program. So I want you to feel completely comfortable to submit your worst video. So what you think is like the worst teaching experience that you had with a client, post it.

And I want you to see what happens when you post what you think is terrible. Because like you said, if we come from a background where say you’re in your 40s or 50s or 60s, chances are your learning experience at school was to go for the A, right? Like you need to submit your best work. And I’m actually saying to them, I want you to submit your worst work.

And then what ends up happening is there’s this nervousness that everybody who does that has. And they start to see, number one, it wasn’t so bad. And two, there’s a great conversation that happens. And three, I’m just like, awesome. It’s great. People start to recognize that there can be mistakes that are made. It’s all part of the process because we’re going to do things with a client that aren’t going to work.

I’ve worked with clients where I’ve provided something or I’ve provided an experience or an input and the movement pattern, there was like more strain or their pain went up. And I was like, oh, okay, what did I miss there? And then we were able to do something else which settled things down and opened things up and grew awareness another way.

So it’s not this linear process of you start from here and you end up, it’s a little bit more winding. But that’s not a bad thing. Inherently what I’m trying to help people see is that it’s not linear.

Ruth Ann: It’s not linear. And also it more mirrors, it’s more authentic because we all know, and any adult that’s coming to you will know, that some of the best experiences in their lives have not come to them in a linear fashion, or the worst, right? So for sure.

But I think when you go back to that A, B, C, again, we think about in education the way we evaluate things, I’m talking about formally, a norm-referenced evaluation would be A, B, C. What constitutes an A? You know, it’s the bell curve where the fewer people at the top, fewer people at the bottom, most of us in the middle, in the B range. That’s an external standard that you’re trying to achieve.

Better in our realm to think of not norm-referenced evaluation against some external norm or some external average or whatever, to think about criterion-referenced, by which I mean you sit down with your client at the beginning of a relationship and you decide, what are the goals? What is really motivating that person? You talk about that a lot. What is the true motivator inside that person?

And based on what’s truly motivating them, you create together a kind of roadmap for where you’re going to try and go. And as you go down that road together you say, well, that didn’t work, did it? It sent us rather backwards than forwards, but what did we learn? And based on what we learned from whatever that stimulus was, we’re going to go to the next thing.

And over time, you’ll dispense with the things that you’ve already like slam dunk, we know how to do that well. And you’ll also dispense with the things that don’t work at all. So over time, you’re going to be choosing more and more things that work effectively with that person.

And that’s the basis on which you should be evaluating your work, whether or not over time you’re able to journey that road with them towards their goal. Not whether it looks like the perfect whatever over there that’s envisioned in a chart somewhere.

So yeah, and I think that’s another trap, right? All of this goes back to the trap of the authority figure and how we’ve got to get it right because we’ve got to get them to an A. Otherwise, we’re not an A. So, for sure, I totally agree with you.

And one of the blessings I think we have being yoga therapists is that we can work and live within the context of a beautiful philosophy that offers us a chance to look at ourselves, to be our own student, to have a beginner’s mind every time we start and to have that sense of being part of a larger whole. And that helps us, right? We’re not isolated.

When I say isolated, I mean, we’re not working without context, without a beautiful context around us, we are. So that’s really fortunate. I think that what often happens to yoga therapists or any kind of teacher, or even a doctor or someone that we revere, is that we expect them to, in and of themselves, know everything. And we don’t.

So our ability to depend on a wider philosophy, on other people, on the client themselves, to be our teachers, to be our helpers is really critical. So that’s also part of not knowing, to return to what you were saying earlier. I don’t know anything. I know where I can seek what I might need.

Susi: As I think, as we start to bring this episode to a close, you can know all the anatomy in the world. You can know all the physiology in the world. You can know all the yoga therapeutic techniques in the world. And all of that is helpful until the other human shows up.

And ultimately, it’s like, who is this other human? What are they saying? And what are they not saying? As we know, we’re an iceberg. We see what we see and there’s a ton of information that they aren’t disclosing to us, or don’t even know that they aren’t disclosing to us.

So it’s our ability to be present. It’s our ability to be in that space with them, that ability to cultivate that healing relationship so that in that context, in that curiosity, we can apply all that we know anatomically, physiologically, neuroscientifically, I’ll make that word up, like all the therapeutic techniques.

And it’s a big reason why in the therapeutic yoga intensive that I’m teaching people on themselves in an embodied way so that they can actually experience it while also learning how to do it with a client, right? So it’s not just a left brain, prefrontal cortex exploration of logic, objective learning, and lecturing of me like, here am I on the mountain, right? It’s us being in it together and seeing what happens with other people.

And then that’s why the results they get with their clientele after they finish the intensive are just so darn good, because of the experiential teaching that’s actually going on in those six days.

And those of you who are resonating with this, then go over, please, to functionalsynergy.com/intensive. And you can read about it as well as the certification program at functionalsynergy.com/certification, because this is really why my grads are so great. So great. And why we have such a great success rate for our grads is because of this learning process that Ruth Ann and I have been sharing on this episode.

And I’m going to put in, Ruth Ann, I’m going to put in other episodes where we’ve spoken about similar things in the show notes, so you guys can harken back. And also, Ruth Ann, if people want to reach out to you, how can they find you?

Ruth Ann: The best way is to go to my website, which is movebetternow.ca, all one word, movebetternow.ca. Or they can reach me at my professional Gmail, which is [email protected]. And either one of those is perfectly fine with me. And I’m always happy to help. And one of my great joys, especially, is just having conversations with people that are in your world, Susi. If anything I can do based on my own experience or my own knowledge or my own intuition can help anybody, I’m happy to do it.

I will say, as we close, that one of the things that you did for me, and you did for I think I can say many, many, many of the people in my cohort, which was about 12 of us, was allow us to increase our conscious understanding of what had not been consciously acceptable to us before. So widening our ability and our happiness and comfort with zooming out and zooming into our own selves and trusting that that exercise was going to take us somewhere. And it did.

So I think you’re really on the right track with the way you’re approaching things. And I’m happy to be a part of it.

Susi: Awesome, thank you. Thank you, thank you.

Ruth Ann: You’re welcome.

Susi: And I’m also going to put into the show notes, too, other episodes where I’ve interviewed grads and clients so that those of you who are listening to this are like, okay, how does she do this? And so you’ll get information from those folks on how they took the learning process into their experience of reducing and eradicating pain, and also in helping their clients to reduce and eradicate pain.

So fun. Thank you again, Ruth Ann.

Ruth Ann: Thank you.

Susi: And you all have a great time digesting this information and we will catch you in the next episode. Take care.

If this episode has resonated and you’re looking to deepen this idea of getting your body back on board, of listening deeply to your symptoms, of listening to the whispers so you don’t have to hear the screams, and you’re looking for one to one support or professional training, then reach out to us at [email protected] where we can customize your learning path. That’s [email protected]. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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