Subtle Yoga Inspired Therapy
I completed my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Certification Program in June 2019
and I am a Registered Yoga Teacher 200 with Yoga Alliance.
I use yoga in therapy with clients and I am excited to offer monthly classes and workshops.
-Chris McDonald, LCMHCS, RYT 200
What is Subtle Yoga?
Subtle yoga is a gentle, slow and supportive yoga that uses mindful movements, breath work, & meditation to help calm the nervous system. Subtle Yoga helps clients tune into sensations in their bodies and further develop the mind-body connection. It helps develop self-regulation of emotions, increases self-awareness, mindfulness and develop resiliency. Subtle Yoga is also trauma informed, this means a calm & safe space is created. Teachers have the sensitivity to minimize potential triggers to further facilitate recalibrating the nervous system so participants can heal. Chris McDonald is the Therapist at Path to Hope Counseling in Raleigh, NC who is trained and certified in Subtle Yoga.
Differences between Subtle Yoga and Exercise Yoga
Changes and rebuilds nervous system
Reduces anxiety, depression, Trauma symptoms
More gentle and slow
Increases mind-body connection
Builds Strength, Flexibility, Stamina
Is not focused on reducing anxiety, depression, trauma symptoms
Quicker flows and movements
Many classes are not trauma informed
How can Subtle yoga help me with anxiety, depression and overcoming trauma?
Research has shown that yoga interventions are effective in treating anxiety, depression and PTSD. Yoga has been found to be a statistically significant effect in complementary treatment and especially helpful when other adjunct treatments have not been effective. Yoga asanas (or postures) can help release physical discomfort including tension and stiffness from anxiety. Breath work can help release anxious thoughts. Through the entire practice of yoga, the relaxation response is elicited to help create an overall feeling of calm.
Research also has shown a decrease in depressive symptoms after consistent practice may last months after the intervention is completed. It also shows an increase in feelings of emotional, social, and spiritual well-being. Yoga also has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (stress hormone), decrease blood pressure and heart rate as well as regulates stress response systems of the body.
What to expect in Therapy
My goal is to create a safe, supportive and comfortable space for you in therapy. Yoga interventions can be energizing or grounding for your physical and emotional state. Energizing interventions are helpful for depression to help boost energy and feelings of well-being. Grounding is beneficial for anxiety and trauma which brings a feeling of calm and being centered. Some interventions are both energizing and grounding.
Depending on the client and presenting issues, I tend to weave in parts of Subtle yoga into each session. I will discuss the intention of the practice and give a general time frame of how long it will take. I will check in with you about any physical injuries, physical limitations and recent surgeries so I can give you some alternatives to do instead.
1. For clients who come in stressed or anxious, I may start the session with breath work and a brief meditation.
2. For other clients I may do some gentle yoga movements with them as issues come up and they need to release some tension and stress
3. I will usually leave 10-15 minutes at the end of the session to include some yoga postures or meditation. For meditation I start with guided meditation.I can teach you how to do some silent meditation if you are open to it.I will assess how the meditation went and help you find ways to overcome any difficulties with your silent meditation.
4. Homework is an essential part of therapy and I always give homework which includes what we practiced in the session so you can get the most of out of it.Sometimes it will be just one practice other times it may be a yoga sequence or meditation.I tend to individualize homework based on what your needs might be.
Yoga in Therapy FAQ’s
I’m not flexible can I still participate in Subtle Yoga?
Absolutely! The best part is it is accessible to all and if you have any injuries you will be given alternative options. You are also welcome to stop at any time.
What if I can’t physically do one of the variations provided?
I will be focusing on how you are doing throughout your practice and I can help you adjust accordingly. Or you can tell me, the Therapist if something is uncomfortable or difficult for you and we can move onto something else. You are welcome to come out of a pose at any time.
What if I don’t want to do yoga or meditation every session?
It is always up to the client to decide if they want to practice during a session or not. I will always ask for your permission to proceed and if you are not feeling it that day, we can continue with talk therapy for that session. If you don't want to do any yoga, breath work or meditation at all that is ok too. It's always the clients choice on how to proceed with treatment that best meets their needs.
Will you start with breath work, meditation and yoga at the first session?
No, typically the first session is about getting to know each other and finding out more about your presenting issue. I like to do a thorough assessment before engaging in interventions. Its also important for you to determine if I am a good fit for you in the first session. If not, I am happy to refer you to another Therapist in the area.