Podcast: Episode 198. Magic of Certification: What Makes Yoga Therapy SO Awesome with Physical Therapist, Yoga Therapist Kirsten Richardson

Yoga Therapy is fascinating, especially for those who join with a background in physiological knowledge, like my guest, Kirsten Richardson. Kirsten has assisted people from all walks of life to decrease pain and increase function over her 15 year career as a Physiotherapist. She joins me to discuss addressing pain as both a physiotherapist and a PTYT.

As a trainer in my certification program as well as a certification graduate, Kirsten graciously shares how Yoga Therapy has transformed her offerings, methods of working with her clients, and why learning within the Certification program is so unique.

Discover why the Yoga Therapy Certification is different from “traditional” teaching programs, and why the teaching style of this certification is so transformative. You'll learn how to embrace your skills as a yoga therapist, and what makes yoga therapy SO awesome.

The Therapeutic Yoga Intensive is running from October 28th - November 2nd, 2023, and is currently open for registration. You can learn more about it and sign up by clicking here.

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What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • How the certification program helps you learn/think creatively.

  • Why your relationship with clients is paramount. 

  • What attracts people to the Yoga Therapy Certification Program and a preview of the syllabus.

Featured on the Show:

  • The Therapeutic Yoga Intensive is running from October 28th - November 2nd, 2023, and is currently open for registration. You can learn more about it and sign up by clicking here. 

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.

Susi: Welcome and welcome back. I am so glad that you are here because today I am interviewing one of the trainers inside of my certification program, Kirsten Richardson. She is also one of the graduates of my program.

She’s a physical therapist, also known as a physiotherapist in some parts of the world. And has done a remarkable job at evolving herself and her professional skill and talent from her training as a physical therapist into this merger between physical therapy and yoga therapy.

And it’s been astonishing and so fun for me to watch because there’s something, like over the years when I’ve worked with health professionals, and most of the health professionals that I’ve worked with have been physical therapists, massage therapists and occupational therapists. And they are attracted to my trainings and my programs because of the results that I get.

And to help those folks integrate their training and then just see the genius and the talent that arises from that is such a cool transformation. And so in this episode I think you’ll get a really good experience of Kirsten’s evolution.

We’re going to be talking about her evolution from PT into PTYT. What her process was within our certification program. Why she thinks our program is so effective and so great. What she loves about being in it as a trainer now. And then we’ll also get into what’s good to know.

Because there’s a lot of people listening to this episode and to the podcast generally who hear from me, hear from my clients, hear from my trainees about what’s possible. Like the results we get really are awesome. And are considering the program but aren’t sure. And so we’re going to give you a little bit of what you should know, and that will help you make that choice for you as we round into our next enrollment cycle for October.

So without further ado, Kirsten, let’s get into it. Welcome.

Kirsten: Hi, it’s nice to be here.

Susi: Awesome. So why don’t we just get right into it around your evolution from PT to YT. Because every health professional, I’ll section it down to the physical therapists that I’ve trained, it’s all been an evolution because of the way that you were trained and the way that you work as a PT. Whether it’s in the US or whether it’s in Canada, because that’s been where those folks have resided that I’ve trained.

And then when you get into incorporating the way that I operate with YT, there’s a bit of a difference. Not mutually exclusive, but there’s a bit of a difference and something cool can really happen. So why don’t you share a little bit about your evolution?

Kirsten: Yeah, sure. So it was definitely a bumpy, bumpy ride, lots of twists and turns and ups and downs. And, ultimately, if I look at kind of like the starting point of where I was when I started the certification program, to where I am now, I started this process, this evolution as a frustrated physiotherapist.

I wasn’t getting the results that I really, really wanted to have. I wasn’t having the impact and influence I just knew in my bones was possible. It just wasn’t happening. And I was using the process, the methods that I had been trained to use to try to get these results. And so that process or method is to assess, diagnose and treat.

And so that’s where I started. And where I am now after traveling through all the ups and downs and the kind of frustrations of expanding my view of the person I’m working with while expanding my view of myself, is that I’m a physio yoga therapist. Really, I’m like a human who has such a greater capacity to see how another human moves and how that movement is an expression of their whole self.

And so I am seeing, yes I’m seeing movement, which is what I was looking for as a frustrated physiotherapist. And I am just so much more appreciative of what influences that movement. So if I notice a change in how someone’s moving, I’m not automatically attributing that to, okay, so the muscle is stronger longer, or they’ve got increased mobility or increased strength or better range of motion.

There’s an understanding of the whole person’s state, so it could be attributed to those things. The changes in movement that I see could be attributed to all of those kinds of physical changes. And it could also be attributed to a person’s thought patterns, a person’s belief. It could be attributed to a conversation that they just had with someone before they came in to see me.

And that those changes are just as valid and important and are really, really, really valuable data, just as much as a muscle length changing or a range of motion increasing or decreasing.

Susi: It reminds me a little bit of sometimes the commentary I’ll receive from a few people who take my Power Of The Pits program. And I have a lot of massage therapists and bodyworkers who take that program, as well as fitness folks and Pilates folks and a variety of others. There can be this idea of, oh, we need to release the muscles in and around the axilla, and this particular release to this muscle structure, and this particular release to that muscle structure. And that is true, there are those things. But that’s not what I’m teaching.

Kirsten: Yeah.

Susi: Where I go is like, okay, that workshop was inspired by so many of my clients with knee issues who couldn’t get off the floor. And I’m looking at them and thinking, all right, I’m working with their hips. Yeah, it’s getting a little bit better. And then I’m working kind of with their back and I can see the connection, I’m like, yep, they’re getting a bit better.

And then I look at them further and I’m like, wait a second, what’s going on up there? Then I start to sort of play around between what’s going on in the axilla area, but also how the axilla connects further down the chain. And lo and behold, what happens? They pop up off the floor. And it’s like, easy, breezy peasy. And the two of us are like, “What the F bomb just happened here?”

And so it wasn’t that I specifically went in and released the stuff into the axilla area. It was yes, that happened, and the tissue around that axilla connects to the ribcage. And that ribcage, through other tissue, connects to the pelvis, both on the same side and the other side. And so when you start to see all of that space, it’s like what is present that has that area wanting to respond in a short way?

Which is what you’re saying, it could have been a conversation someone had walking into the room. I mean, it could be an exercise stimulus. It could be a thought pattern. It could be what they ate.

Kirsten: Right.

Susi: And this is what’s so cool about someone like yourself, who has this depth of training already in body dynamics. And then you start to integrate this broader view of wait a second here. Hold on a second here. What’s actually really going on? Why is the body responding in the way it is?

Kirsten: And it’s this curiosity that’s been nurtured as I went through the certification program and now continue on with the learning. Because that’s one thing with this certification program, you don’t learn how to be a yoga therapist. You learn how to be you and how to learn. It’s like I learned how to learn. So there’s this continual place of curiosity that I find myself in.

Susi: Hold on a second, I’ve got to interrupt you here. What do you mean, I learned how to learn? What were you doing before? I think we need to unpack that just a little bit.

Kirsten: I was, maybe I can use the word memorizing, like a template, a process. Like if in the process of the method how I learned and integrated the physiotherapy teaching that I received was one of like, assess, diagnose, treat, reassess, diagnose, treat, reassess and around and around. I really think I memorized, or I was trying to.

I was trying to memorize this template of, so I do this assessment and that means this muscle is short or long or torn or partially torn or this joint is limited, whatever. That assessment means this is happening in the physical body.

And so when that’s happening in the physical body, when I have that diagnosis, then these are the things that you can do to fix the diagnosis. To realign, to strengthen, to increase range of motion, to add stability. And that’s very different from what I now think of as learning is being in that place of curiosity, of seeing that a person is moving in a certain way.

So if we go back to the beginning and I do an assessment technique again, like a physiotherapy assessment technique. And I see how they move during that or I feel what I feel under my hands when we’re doing that assessment technique, I no longer have to rely on this like Rolodex memory, like anxiety, like holy moly. Like, oh my gosh, okay, that’s the thing. I see that. Now, what are all of the things that I can do to try to support that?

Instead now I get to be like, oh, isn’t that really cool? This person is moving in this way. And really just get to be curious about what might be contributing to that. So is it that there’s something in their knee maybe? Or is it that, like you were saying, maybe there’s something up in the shoulder, in the axilla that I can work with.

Maybe there’s even a tone of voice or a pacing that I can use in how I have a conversation with this person that may impact that. And from there, then I have the opportunity to learn about that person, to learn about the relationship between me, the therapeutic relationship between myself and that person.

And so then I started to really gather data after seeing multiple people over and over and over, then some patterns started to arise. And so then I have this kind of background information of actual things that happened with me and a client and the results that they got. So then that becomes a much more easeful database.

So maybe I see another client who has similar, I get a similar sense from the assessment, if we go back to this ubiquitous assessment that I’m talking about. And I see a similar thing in this person, then it’s like there’s this kind of natural database of being like, oh, that reminds me of when I worked with Joe and Marsha and Tom. And so maybe I should check out the shoulders, right?

But it’s not based on the list that was in my lecture in physiotherapy. Or it’s not based on, oh my gosh, I read that there’s this great review article about hip replacements or whatever. That’s not where I’m going back to to get my ideas or inspiration for how to work with a person. It’s the more immediate, it’s the evidence and the data that I’ve collected on my own with clients over the years. Over the months and over the years.

Susi: And with the person who’s directly in front of you, too, right?

Kirsten: Yes.

Susi: Because I have certainly seen over the years, and I remember when I first started to see this early in my career. Where I was like, hey, you know what? There is a pattern amongst the women I am working with who have had breast cancer. And even though there’s this pattern around certain movement restrictions, if I fall into the trap of just staying with that, of like this is what you do with someone who has been through breast cancer surgery, you miss out on the uniqueness of the individual that is there.

And a story to explain this one is I remember training some teachers in the program I had created that was studied at a university level. And it was actually for people who had been through cancer. It wasn’t just a specific form of cancer, but she was super excited to be able to work with only women who had all gone through cancer, breast cancer, and they’re now recuperating.

She was like, oh my gosh, I’m so glad, everyone’s going to have the same problem. I’m like, okay, we’ll see what happens with that one. And then she comes back the following week for her update and she’s like, oh, this one had the pain and this one had carpal tunnel syndrome. And this one had chemo fog. And it’s like, ah, I couldn’t do the same thing with everybody.

I’m like, yeah, exactly. We have to allow ourselves to really step back and not look at the scenarios that don’t fit into the template as being, the word I’ve gotten right now that’s coming out is probably not the best word. You might have a better one as you hear it. It’s not that they’re wrong. It’s not that they’re an anomaly.

It’s not that they’re outside the bell curve because there isn’t one. It’s a human being who has these responses in their body. Their body and tissue are responding in a way, both to physical forces, along with the physical forces that are in response to the mental and emotional load that an individual is processing.

And you don’t have to know what that mental and physical or that physical and emotional load is either to be able to work with someone, because as you grow your ability to see, you can simply see it and then you support what you see.

Kirsten: Right.

Susi: Did you struggle at all with, but wait a second, they’re telling me about what’s going on for them emotionally or mentally, I have to do something about it. Did you struggle with that at all?

Kirsten: Yes, in that there’s this whole notion within regulated health professions, of which physiotherapy is one, of like we’re trained to deal with the physical. And we’re not trained to address emotional psychological issues that are coming up.

And so as a frustrated physiotherapist, because inevitably these things come up because they’re so linked with movement. You can’t not. It would be shocking if people like, yeah, you know what I mean.

Susi: We’re humans, right?

Kirsten: Yes, we’re humans.

Susi: Having a mental and emotional experience many days.

Kirsten: So when they would come up in the clinic if I was working with someone as a physiotherapist, I would have a real resistance to it. I would be like, “Oh my goodness. Oh no, I’m not trained in this. I don’t know how to handle this myself.”

And then, as I worked through the certification program and evolved and incorporated yoga therapy more and more into my practice, I realized I don’t need to do anything with it. All I need to do is listen to them. Let them say what they’re going to say without putting up my block. And just let them be a human in the room with me so they can tell me what they’re going to tell me and I can listen. And I can notice how their movement changes.

So often, when people do share a thought or an emotion or something within a session, you can see it in their movement. And I can speak to movement, so then I have the opportunity to share with them what I’m noticing now, whatever I’m noticing that’s changed with their movement.

And so that lets them be heard and seen, and that is a healing relationship. Whereas when they are being a human and vulnerable and sharing something with me, and I put up the breaks and the walls and say like, “I’m a physical therapist, I can’t hear this. I don’t know how to deal with it.” That’s not a healing relationship.

Susi: It’s interesting because I remember, again, early, early on people would either say things to me or they wouldn’t say things to me. But being a perceptive, sensitive individual that I am, I could clearly see that something was amiss.

And I’ve heard other professionals in my industry, and in your industry and related industries say, “Well, you know what? They’ve got this thing going on, they’re never going to get better until they figure out that thing. So I can only do so much with their body because they’ve got this other thing going on.”

And I don’t know about you, Kirsten, but I’ve had this other thing, thing. I’ve had those other things going on in my world, right? Like those things have happened. Like we’re humans, you are on the planet long enough, you’ve got things going on. And there’s a resounding no.

When there’s another person who is simply being present, and you don’t even need to be here the story of what’s going on, but there’s a certain amount of presence that exists. We have all felt that experience, whether it’s with a physician or an acupuncturist, or a physical therapist, or a Pilates teacher or a yoga teacher.

Simply being in the space of someone else who is present does something. You don’t need to have even shared a sliver of the particular mental and emotional challenge that you are going through. I remember really clearly this one fellow who I was working with, and he was quite an ambitious, driven individual, And I could see it In his movement. Like his movement had certain qualities to it.

And as I helped him work with those qualities, like it was very forced and tight and like, go, go, I’ve got to feel the stretch and I’ve got to feel something, right? Like there was sort of this sort of quality to it, right, I can put the sound and the oomph-ness to it, yeah. And as we were working with that, and not that that had to change, but as he improved his movement that did change. That was a piece of the process.

Then, interestingly enough, he started to recognize that how he was in his being shifted. I didn’t have to say anything about his personality. His personality wasn’t wrong. Just like when I work with runners, they don’t have to stop running to get better. But they can become aware of what’s happening in the activity, yeah? Really cool.

So when you think about your experience as a trainee in the certification, and then also now your experience as a trainer, what do you love about the program? I’m going to lead the witness on this one.

Kirsten: Okay.

Susi: Because I remember you actually said to me, Susi – I’m going to get this not quite right. The way you run the program, or the way that you teach or the way that you learned in the program, you have not experienced that in any other program that you have taken before or since. Do you remember saying that to me?

Kirsten: Yeah.

Susi: Say more about that. And then I’ll let you free flow on whatever you want.

Kirsten: I think my words were the certification training was so unique that it’s unlike any training I had taken before. And I have not come across anything like it since. And I loved it.

And what I loved about it is there’s these two parallel processes happening as a trainee in certification. One, kind of the more, maybe it’s the more obvious process for me. I was the student learning from you, Susi, and from the other wonderful humans who were in the class with me. So I was a student learning from other people. Receiving teaching from other people.

And then there’s this parallel line to that is, I am working with my people. So like, I am the teacher or the therapist working with my clients or students. And what I really loved about certification is how those two parallel processes really blended together. And I mean, you have a tool, the Healing Helix, that you share with the trainees within certification and beyond.

It’s those two things, those two paths kind of wind together and come together. Meaning that in a lot of trainings, the learning part feels very separate from the application part. So there’s a stumble or a block that I felt in transitioning from learning, being the student, and then taking that and owning it and trusting it and being the teacher to my clients.

And within certification it all came together. There’s this awareness of like, oh. Like, Susi, you would often say during video review calls or teaching calls, like, “Do you see what I’m doing here? Do you see what I’m doing here?” When you were speaking with me or teaching someone in particular. And it would be like you would highlight how you’re incorporating the tools and the teaching into our teaching sessions.

And so then it’s like, oh, yes, less is more. Oh my gosh, it totally is like. Or do all that I need to do and nothing more, that’s all I need to do. And so there’s like learning it and then also just trusting and knowing that I can then teach that to someone else.

What it required for me was a deep dive, a really honest look at my inner world. A really honest look at my thoughts and beliefs and my humanness so that that could happen.

Susi: Yeah, let’s unpack that a little bit. I know what you mean, but that was a bit of a leap. So I totally hear what you’re saying around so I’m teaching some stuff in the video reviews and then I take a pause and say, “All right, you guys watch what I just did there. Did you see that I was just doing the principle or concept or whatever. Like did you see that in action?

And what I like to say, and this is what I say to the trainees, Kirsten and I, is we are training you the way that we work with our clientele. So the way that we work with our clientele is how we are actually training you. So we’re showing at all the levels. We’re not just lecturing you on, here’s what happens with the hip and blah, blah, blah. The way that we’re working with you is the way that we work with our clientele.

And so then I highlight, here’s what I’m actually doing so that you see it in action and then you can apply it, where does that leave you? And for you to kind of get that you had to go deep into yourself. What are some of the links before that?

Kirsten: I think the length is in order to trust that process, in order to be able to participate and experience you’re teaching the principles as how you work with your clients and then really trust that I got it, like yes, I got less is more or whatever the principle is. In order to have the – I wonder if it’s even to have the confidence to teach that in my way to my clients. I needed to really explore all of the places that those teachings were true in me.

So I really needed to understand, like, where am I doing more than I need to do? Where am I pushing through? What am I kind of ignoring? What’s the thoughts that I’m having right now? So in order to be able to really, truly learn the concept.

Susi: It’s curious because there’s a lot of training where a template is taught. And I know why that is done, because it’s always been done. It can sometimes be a simpler way for a person to then go to their clients and say, “All right, I’m going to try this back template on you.” But there’s a certain amount of hoping and praying that it’s going to work, because you work with the template.

And I got nothing against templates, except when it’s just sort of thrown against the wall and hoping and praying it will work. Because I just think that there’s a more accurate way to engage with the process.

And that’s really what Kirsten and I have been talking about here, is that some people might say that it’s a soft skill and it’s not as important as the template. They will say that, right? But the reality is that you need to learn to see the results of whatever you are showing a client. You need to be able to not just utilize your prefrontal cortex, which is really only, like if we look at it from the processing of data, that’s a small part of your brain.

There’s more to engaging with a human being than just that. And then some will then say, well, I’m just going to intuitively work with someone. Which is great, but then if you don’t actually learn to process what it is that you’re intuiting to actually see, because if you’re intuiting something, that is a process inside of our brain. We are gathering the data, we are seeing that data.

We might not be consciously seeing that data, we might not be consciously seeing that movement. But if we can actually pay attention to what’s being seen and see the data that is arising out of it, like seeing the results in the client’s movement, or breath, or a sense of stillness. If we see that in that client, then we can see the overall patterning that’s happening in their body and then apply another stimulus to them to help them move forward.

If I kind of bring together what Kirsten is saying here, it’s very simple if I could use that word, to take the information that you learned from a trainer, have it in your intellectual processing, unsure about how it will work or not work. Apply it only from that place, not really be watching to see what the result is and then not really sure if you actually have seen anything because you haven’t been watching in the first place.

But if I can show you the multiple layers on how I’m applying the principles that have worked with me – And my principles have basically stayed the same since I sort of realized what I was doing. There’s been some nuances in the way that I say them. But when I harken back to some audio or video or things I’ve written back almost 30 years ago, there’s a lot that I still agree with wholeheartedly.

So when I’m sharing that on multiple levels, you have an opportunity to get it on different levels, which can then open up the aha moment of like, oh, this is what it is. Because if I just kind of riff a little bit here, I think we all as human beings know what connection is. And in some regard – and this might sound really horrible to say – but in some regard many of the processes in our world disconnect us.

But we innately and fundamentally freaking know what connection is. And like I mentioned earlier, when we are in the space of someone who is present it is unbelievable. We all have experienced it. And then when we apply whatever we’re teaching in that space, there’s just a river of flow that happens. And there are these connections that happen on multiple layers.

And that’s where, on the other side, because I don’t create results in my clients, you don’t create results in your clients, they create them. But it’s not as straightforward as saying, “Oh, well, they have to do the work.” Well, of course they have to do the work. But it’s the interaction and the relationship between them and us where the actual magic of the work happens. And it’s not a doing something kind of work. Do you want to say more to that?

Kirsten: It really comes down to appreciating the impact and influence that I have as a therapist. I have far more impact and influence to help guide people towards, like they’re the ones getting the results, like you said. And my impact and influence can help guide them along the way. My ability to see how they respond to one stimulus and really see it. And so then adjust and modify and then move forward from there. I have so much more impact and influence in how I’m delivering the exercises.

So if we come back to the template of a movement program or something, if I am in the space of like, this is what I do next, and this is what I do next. And the template says go here. Then as you were alluding to, it’s like I’m disconnected. It’s a barrier between the connection. And I don’t have as much impact and influence when I’m there.

If let’s say I do the exact same exercises with someone from this place of presence, of connection, and the exercises and the template don’t come up into my prefrontal cortex and take over and block off all of my other kind of intuitive feeling sensing parts of me.

If I can be connected with that person, I’m going to guide them through these exercises in a very different way. They’re doing the same exercises, but the way that it’s offered, the space that we’ve created that they’re executing the exercises within is far more influential and impactful.

Susi: I love that. And I often will say there’s only so many therapeutic exercises that are out there. And every so often I think I’ve made something up because I’m just kind of like, okay, this person’s leg needs to go there and their arm needs to go there. And I need to have this happen with this and this. And then I see what I’ve kind of asked them to do and I’m like, well, I’ve never seen that before. And then all I need to do is look at YouTube, right? It’s like, oh, there it is, right?

There’s only so many ways to move a body and so there’s really not many novel exercises, really, that are out there. And it is true, it’s about how we’re delivering this on so many levels that makes a difference.

And so then if someone’s listening to this and they’re getting interested, and they’re interested in pursuing this, what would be good for people to understand before enrolling?

Kirsten: So I find what people are attracted to this program, what I hear from a lot of the trainees as I’ve been working as a trainer in this program over the last few years, is that they really are attracted to getting really extraordinary results with their clients. They really truly want to help people.

And so know that in order to get these extraordinary results, you participate in an extraordinary program. A very unique program that will not look like any program you’ve taken before. You will not be – Well, maybe you will be frantically writing down notes. But there’s not a lecture format. You’re not going to be lectured to, you’re going to be in conversation with the trainers in this program.

We, the trainers in this program, are going to be taking care of ourselves so that we can be present and receptive and able to see and hear you so that we can teach to where you are at that point. And that can feel different than a traditional, I’m going to use that word, I don’t know if that’s the best word, but like a traditional teaching program. Where there’s a curriculum and you follow it and on day 10 of anatomy and biomechanics, let’s say, this is what we cover. And so have your notes out and this is what we’re going to talk about.

That’s not what will happen within this program. You will have a conversation with the trainer, so me if we’re doing anatomy and biomechanics. And we’ll get really real and really clear about where we’re at, what our understanding is, what our questions are. And then that’s what I teach you.

And so yes, there is a curriculum. There are guideposts, milestones that you will achieve. And your path there, any cohort’s path to each of these milestones is fluid and allowed to be that way. We’ll get there.

Susi: Yes, because we have the curriculum, just like when I’m working with my private clients who I see for three month one on one series, there is a process.

Kirsten: Mm-hmm.

Susi: And they need to learn things. But what client A needs to learn on day one, or to the depth that they need to learn it on day one will be different than another person. And so we appreciate that. We start our practicum right at the beginning, which is not common amongst the training programs that have been accredited by the IAYT.

And we’ve gotten a little bit of flack for that at times from different people. But the reason for that is because I figured why not have the support right from the start of Kirsten and I, and of Mona who is our Ayurveda trainer, to ask questions almost real time. And, to me, that’s the way to learn, is when rubber hits the road.

And we also titrate it out. So it’s not like we’re throwing you in and we’re like, “Hey, go for it.” You’re working, so for example, for the first group of cases that you work with, we have you focus on these concepts. And then the next group of cases, it’s like you work with these concepts. And then the next group of cases, you work with these concepts.

But here is what’s also really vital, we’re working with each of these separate concepts, but what the eff happens when a client shows up and they’re going through cancer treatment? We haven’t addressed cancer treatment yet. So then what do I do? I’m like, okay, wait until this day in the future? That seems a little ridiculous. And so guess what, we teach to it in the moment when the question comes up.

Or the person who has the client come in with a herniated disc or is about to have a client come in with a herniated disc and they’re like, “Well, what the heck do I do here?” And it’s like, okay, step it back. Let’s teach to that.

So all the way along, you’re learning the fundamental concepts because the reality is I’m not training physical therapists. There are physical therapists who are in the program, and I’m training them to become the version of yoga therapists they want to be, meaning the integrative PT typically, and YT.

Whereas another person who’s a yoga teacher who doesn’t have a physical therapy background is going to be a wholly distinct different expression of yoga therapy. So then where I go, like when Kirsten was in the program the conversations I was having with her were wholly different than conversations I was having with somebody else. Does that make Kirsten’s training better or worse? No. Because how she’s applying it is wholly different.

My clientele is different than Kirsten’s clientele. Kirsten’s clientele is different than Deanna’s clientele. Deanna’s clientele is different than Lori’s clientele, right? And those are all real names of people who’ve graduated. And all of them work with very different people, but they’re utilizing the concepts, but in their way with their clientele. So why on earth would I templatize my program?

That is not the way we work with our clients at all. But yes, are there concepts all the way through that are important? Yes, absolutely. And are you learning them all the way through? Yes. And do they deepen and deepen and deepen and deepen? Do you see more and are able to apply more?

And then you start to really see that there are so many systems of movement and of therapeutic movement and of yoga therapy and of breath technique and of meditation technique, all of them. And they all have their place, they’re not separate. And you can pull from any of those pieces. And you become the integrated whole of all the information you’ve ever learned, whatever training you’ve done, and apply all of it in your own unique way with the people that are in front of you. Because people are attracted to you because of you.

You can tell I’m a mother of six year olds because there was a period of time where I would offer up to some trainees, you really ought to watch Kung Fu Panda. Because if you haven’t watched the movie, it’s like there’s that one in the third one, I think, where Shifu says to Panda, to Po, “You’ve got to now teach the masters.” And he’s like, “What?”

And then later on he fails miserably at it. And then Shifu says, “Well, of course you failed miserably. I knew you were going to fail miserably.” He’s like, “Why did you make me do it?” He’s like, “Because you have to become you. You need to become your version of what kung fu is not Tigress’s and not all the others,” right?

Like, you’ve got to become you, your version of you and your expression. Not Susi’s, not Kirsten’s, not any of the people that we think are super rockstars at this. You need to become you, your version of this. And that is where you will have the utmost success, because the clients are looking for you. And they need what you have to offer.

Kirsten: Yeah, and that, Susi, I believe, is what makes this program extraordinary and very unique, is that you helped me learn who I am and see the possibility and really nurtured my amazing talents and skills. And in order to do that, you taught me and supported me and were there along the way. Like in order for me to get to be my best self, my best yoga therapist, physiotherapist self, I needed to get to know myself. I needed to get to know where I was at at each step of the way.

And that’s, I think, the hardest work. And I had to be willing to go there to get the extraordinary results.

Susi: Mm-hmm. It’s hard in the extraordinary kind of way.

Kirsten: Yeah.

Susi: Because it’s really unfurling what you know yourself to be. I believe the people who are most attracted to what I’m doing, whether it’s you’ve listened to the podcast, and have maybe looked at some stuff on YouTube or Facebook, there’s something inside of you that keeps coming back. You know. Like you know. You know that inner calling, that inner push of wanting to be let out, wanting to be expressed. It’s like, yes, that’s the beam, because here’s the thing, that is our client.

Healing is a transformative process. This is why I have the results, the reason why Kirsten has the results that she does, it’s because we believe healing is possible. And so often when people have a persistent state of pain or chronicity of symptoms, it’s because they’re working with the surface level of symptoms. And what’s not in their awareness is what they’re not solving for because they can’t. It’s not in their awareness, they’re not conscious of it.

And so as we move through the process of movement and breath and stillness, it naturally and organically arises. Because as someone moves better, as they tune in more, it all begins to integrate. And to get into all that details is a podcast for another day. I mean you can listen to all these episodes because I touch on it and all of them. But that in there is the juice of what supports a transformative change.

And every single client that I have seen get out, like truly get out of pain has been through that process. And they’ve all had these amazing aha moments of like, “Oh my, yes!” And it’s almost just like I’m free, right? Like this open, like this release, this openness, this like integration of who they are.

Kirsten: Yeah. There you just did it again, Susi, with the teaching and then it runs over into like a healing relationship, the student becoming the teacher and seeing that. It’s a lovely thing.

Susi: So with that, this has been such a great conversation, Kirsten. With that, if you are listening to this and there is a spark inside of you that you would like to join us, then we are beginning our intake for the therapeutic yoga intensive, which we run October the 28th through until November 2nd. And that is where you learn all the fundamental biomechanical concepts of what makes this work so effective.

And you can learn more about that program at learn.functionalsynergy.com/intensive. And then if you would like more details on the whole program, you can send us an email and we will follow up with you with a manual document that you can read all about it. And it would be so much fun to work with you and help you become the extraordinary yoga therapist that is wanting to be expressed.

Thank you again, Kirsten. If people would like to reach out to you directly, whether it’s for sessions or to talk more about the program, what’s the best way for them to reach you?

Kirsten: Email is probably best. That is [email protected].

Susi: And be well is B-E-W-E-L-L?

Kirsten: Yeah, B-E-W-E-L-L.

Susi: Perfect. All right, thank you again, Kirsten.

Kirsten: Thanks, Susi.

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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