The Healing Method: A Mental Health Approach to Yoga is a holistic yoga approach to help in the healing process of those who struggle with areas of mental health and trauma. This method is open to integrating different philosophies and elements from different theories and creating a mindfulness, hands-on approach that works best for the participants. This healing method was developed by Dr. Angie Holzer, based on her experience working with at-risk and vulnerable populations in North and Central America, Europe and throughout Africa. Dr. Holzer’s approach stems from her training in India with Yoga Dinesh, along with her time teaching at Stanford University, where she was certified in Yoga for Mental Health. This method integrates a variety of models and theories including the Kosha Model, Mindfulness approach on being nonjudgmental, three elements of trauma healing from Dr Thomas Hübl (reflect, digest, integrate) and the Polyvagal Theory in using the vagus nerve to calm the body.
4 Healing Foundational Elements of The Healing Method: A Mental Health Approach to Yoga.
Safety: Create a safe space and environment to help participants experience physical sensations and process emotions. By creating a safe place, participants are more able to relax and explore their emotions needed in the healing process. A safe space includes a comfortable environment to move around, close eyes during meditation, express emotions and reduce any environmental elements that could cause triggers.
Simple: Keep it simple. With instructions, elements, poses and class work. One of the main goals is to teach tools and techniques for participants to use throughout the rest of their lives to help heal. Keeping the approach simple will increase the likelihood of ongoing participation and allow participants to understand and remember to integrate yoga into their lives.
Connection: Creating connections can help in the healing process. Connecting with the breath can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, calming the body. Connecting with the body through movement has been shown to help with different areas of mental health. Connecting with the sensations of the body can help in the process of movement. Being a part of a yoga community can also help with connecting with self and others. “Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives” (Van der Kolk, 2015).
Reflection Time: Creating space to reflect is an important part of healing. This can be done during the yoga practice, at the end of the practice or encourage participants to take time to reflect on their own with what they just experienced. Reflection time can be taking a walk and process on experiences, talking with a friend, writing in a journal and other ways that allows a person to process experiences in a comfortable setting.