Brenna is a (C-IAYT) Certified Yoga Therapist under the International Association of Yoga Therapists, a Certified Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Specialist including Pfilates Therapy, Certified Pre-Post Part Consultant, Certified Trauma Sensitive Yoga Therapist, with other specialties, Meditation for Teens and Adults including I-Rest and Para Yoga Nidra and Mindful Meditation for Children and Teens, Restorative and Yin Yoga, and integrates Ayurveda Lifestyle life coaching. She has been teaching for more than 8 years in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley areas. She does home visits that include small groups and privates or teaches from her small studio.
Pre-Natal Classes offered now Tuesday evenings 7:00-8:30 pm
Limit 4 students, home studio.
Includes breathwork, pelvic rehabilitation knowledge and FUN
Instructor: Brenna Jacobson - Pre-natal Consultant, Pelvic Floor Specialty (C-IAYT) Yoga Therapist
Rise and Shine to Friday Morning Yoga Therapy!
9:30-11:00 am small classes 4-5 students.
No past experience necessary, just a desire to be healthy and happy!
You cannot separate the body, mind and soul, it’s a dance. The way we do asana, is the way we do life. It can be ½ way, resenting it, loving it, using it as an escape, and so on. Your practice is neutral, but it’s a mirror of who you are.
Restorative Yoga uses props, your body is a prop for the soul. Whatever container you bring to the mat can be filled, everything is there depending on your own experience. Who are you bringing to the mat today, what do you need, and what will you give? Where are you allowing your attention to go right now? Being present is essential, otherwise it’s just an exercise. One single breath in gratitude can change that.
What Restorative Yoga is Not:
Not stretching – it’s about opening, do less of a pose, more opening
Not the same as Yin Yoga – active asana, as opposed to hold and still, stretching
Not striving – I know you can do more, not sure you can do less
No ambition – opposite of relaxing, don’t need to do more go further and expand
No need to go anywhere else, do anything else, or be different than you are .
What we seek is already here, the pose is right here
Restorative Yoga can be therapeutic, but therapeutic yoga is not restorative
To be relaxed we need to be still, quiet, dark and warm. Restorative Yoga takes you toward sleep. To be still where you are, your body sleeps and your mind watches. You relax enough, without falling asleep. Our bodies are used to moving around, therefore stillness is a radical thing. Hence the time spent in finding that comfortable shape. Quietness, no music. Darkness, even if you close your eyes , light filters in . Darkness is good for the organs below the diaphragm, irregular periods, liver and digestion. Finally warmth, swaddling with blankets around hands, feet, belly back, anyware!
Most of our nervous systems are hyper stimulated, lack of sleep, improper diet, and stress have created our new “contagious diseases”.
“Intention” is what makes Restorative Yoga different. Your body sleeps while your mind watches as you sense your way through your practice, without thought. Like walking through a dark room filled with furniture. The use of props is to support your body in positions of comfort and ease, to facilitate the relaxation response, which is where healing begins.
Doing Restorative Yoga 20 min/day releases tension which represents the past, and lets you gently sink into the present, without judgement, ambition or needing to do anything. In your practice, you are really with yourself, for yourself, just simply being.
Restorative poses work with the rhythm of the body. They are powerful for removing blockages, to allow your body to heal, post cancer, lymph drainage for example with poses like legs up the wall. Back bending is healthy in opening the front body for digestion, posture and breathing. Semi inversions like legs up the wall are effective for relief of jet lag, restless leg syndrome, and jobs where you stand a lot. Gentle forward folds are great to initiate the relaxation response. Drop your chin in prayer. It facilitates relaxation. The state of yoga is Heart up Brain down. You will begin to notice changes in your breathing and a more relaxed state, as you drift toward the present moment.
When there are fewer choices, we have more time. We confuse busyness for meaning. We need to not only relax our body, we need to relax our life. In Restorative Yoga combined with Yoga Nidra deep relaxation practices, we gently manipulate the nervous system by putting it into a place of comfort and begin the healing process.
May we live like a lotus at home in the muddy water.
Brenna Jacobson (C- IAYT)
‘Mindfulness’ is a term you may be hearing a lot lately as it is being brought into the light, in response to our stressful lifestyles, and increased alienation from other people, due largely to the use of technology, cell phones, texting, video games to name a few. Mindfulness is paying attention to the here and now with acceptance and non-judgement, (kindness and curiosity). Mindfulness Meditation has been a part of Hatha Yoga Practices for 1000’s of years, so it’s not new, but thankfully is being rediscovered. It’s for all of us, children, teens and adults.
Have you ever found yourself repeatedly telling a child to “stop doing that”! It’s no wonder they either continue doing it, or find some way to avoid not doing it. What we really need to do is teach them “HOW” to stop. This brings it back to you, the parent, to start integrating Mindfulness into your own life, thereby by practice showing your kids how to respond rather than react. By being compassionate first to yourself, you are resolving your buzzing thoughts, which will magically get passed on to others. Try an experiment, pick a time during the day and check where your mind is, past, future or the present?
Many seeds of Mindfulness are planted early in Iife, but need to be tended and nurtured. For instance, as children we lay on the grass starring up into the blue sky, watching clouds, hearing birds chirping, noticing the breeze gently caressing our face. We enjoyed the moment, but most of us never learned how to integrate this into our life. Notice what you are doing already to set an example to children, teens or other adults. What do you do daily for self-care, relaxation and reflection? Our children also need to be encouraged to have “self” time to reset. As parents, we spend hours driving our children to countless extra-curricular classes and sport activities, as well as driving ourselves to run to workout practice on the way home from work, texting frantically to communicate and at end of the day feeling more burned out than ever. Through Mindfulness practice we can learn to stop, STOP, Take a breath, Observe and Proceed. We sometimes don’t realize that all of the extra’s we take on can have issues attached, whether it’s with a coach, a team mate, feeling inadequate, comparing oneself to others, and so on.
So the tough parts of the day don’t always end after school, they can confront us wherever we go and whoever we interact with. Coming from a place of mindful self-compassion, checking in throughout the day to appreciate the taste of food, noticing your body, noticing where your thoughts are and bringing them back to an anchor - often the breath, but an anchor can be a color, a body part, a word, endless choices. Taking a moment in the morning before checking your e-mail, think of acronym R.A.I.N., Recognize, notice and be with your feelings, Allow, your feelings to be as they are, Investigate, become curious why you feel the way you do, and Notice, the troubled thoughts are Not you, it’s not personal to you.
So, Mindfulness is not about being self-indulgent, weak, selfish, irresponsible, or having self pity. On the contrary, it’s about not beating yourself up when you fail, and be more likely to try again. It’s about taking more responsibility for yourself and family. It increases our perspective and brings awareness that you are not alone. As we take action we gain perspective and empathy for others as well. It has been said that 80% of life is just showing up. All you have to do is SHOW UP, and be in the present! The words “Medicine”and “ Meditation” are both derived from the same Sanskrit word for “Inner Measure”.
Brenna Jacobson, (C-IAYT), Yoga and Trauma Therapy
Reality is that life is not peaceful. Trauma can arise from any number of daily things, seemingly small to one person, yet overwhelming to another. Having experienced trauma, whether recently or in the past, one can feel like something is broken within us, wrong with us, or we feel damaged. This is not so, but is a part of the healing process and a normal response to internalizing a traumatic experience. Trauma Sensitive Yoga is not about fixing or changing anyone. It’s about learning how to find healing and support within, by empowering yourself to feel safe in your own body and mind and seeing the potential in yourself. By extracting yourself from the traumatic event, you are able to witness and self-observe. Through witnessing awareness, you begin to look at it objectively and come to realize that you are not the trauma, it is something that happened to you.
Through your yoga practice you can return to wholeness by seeing the experience from a place of comfort and safety within your own body, and in time, finding meaning in it. This will arise when the time is right for you. Post-Traumatic Growth will evolve, remembering that people don’t become great in spite of their problems, but because of them. Eventually your yoga practice will take you to that inner place where you can be the witness, and know that you can return to that place any time during your practice or in your daily life. Change will come from that untouched true nature, when you are operating not from brokenness, but from wholeness.
Trauma activates our Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) for survival, but leaves us frequently stuck in the fight or flight response. Practice that can help us get back into the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) includes Therapeutic Yoga, along with talk and physical therapy, and Meditation. In “The Relaxation Response: Yoga Therapy Meets Physiology” published in Yoga Therapy Today, Summer, 2017, yogatherapyinternational.com, renown founder and teacher Maggie Reagh lists restorative procedures under topics of Relaxing through Positioning the Body; Relaxing through Lengthening the Breath; Relaxing through Stilling the Mind and Balancing the Nervous System.
Utilizing guided meditation of Yoga Nidra allows healing to begin by building resilience to challenging circumstances that arise in our daily lives. In the International Journal of Therapy, No.19 (2009) p.123, David Emerson et al. state in Trauma-Sensitive Yoga: Principles, Practice and Research: “Trauma exposure is ubiquitous in our society. Over half the general population report having had exposure to at least one traumatic event over their lifetime, … research has shown that Yoga practices, including meditation, relaxation, and physical postures, can reduce autonomic sympathetic activation, muscle tension, and blood pressure, improve neuroendocrine and hormonal activity, decrease physical symptoms and emotional distress, and increase quality of life. For these reasons, Yoga is a promising treatment or adjunctive therapy for addressing cognitive, emotional, and physiological symptoms associated with trauma, and PTSD specifically.”
When we get stuck in the SNS, the brain is affected, the amygdala grows, making us more reactive, the hippocampus shrinks and we may lose perspective on time, the frontal cortex goes off-line, making it harder to make decisions or think things through. Trauma often makes us feel detached from our body, and sometimes feeling unsafe in our body. Dr. Herbert Benson of the Benson Henry Institute has found in Harvard University’s research that spending 20 minutes a day in the relaxation response can lower or turn off our stress genes. Through comforting Therapeutic Trauma Sensitive Yoga we experience the Relaxation Response of coming back to our body and mind. Yoga and guided meditation also help one to understand the significance of the breath. Controlled, yet easily learned, breathing is a powerful trigger to engage the relaxation response. Yoga Nidra supports organization of thoughts and flow of memories, and puts us in touch with our physical self.
What is chronic pain? This term is tossed around so freely nowadays. I don’t think there is one person who isn’t themselves affected or knows someone who uses this term regularly in describing themselves or a situation.
According to Neil Pearson, who teaches at UBC, lectures worldwide, and has been working exclusively with patients who suffer from chronic pain for over 20 years, “Scientists explain aspects of chronic pain through explanations of neuro-immune plasticity. They are able to show that when pain persists there are relatively permanent changes in neural and immune systems and cells. The problem is that attempting to change these back takes effort, practice and patience. Our efforts are required, to rewrite this story and to create lasting ‘positive’ neuro-immune changes. … And most include disruptions of breathing and muscle tension. For many of us when the story has continued to play for some time, it includes changes in our feelings of competence, difficulties in letting go of tension, being out of balance in life, being disconnected from our life’s purpose, and as such, if we direct our yoga practices (or any contemplative movement practice) towards these, we can rewrite the story.”
Persistent, chronic pain requires a different approach for healing than acute pain which usually goes away eventually on its own.
What Yoga Therapy provides is an individualized practice specifically aimed at your needs.This requires you to view ‘Yoga therapy’ as more resembling a physical and/or rehabilitation process, not a studio style practice, and also includes integration of practices for mind and breath.
Students are taught to experience their practice from the inside out. It’s not about how it looks on the outside, it’s how it feels on the inside.
Viniyoga™ methodology specialist Gary Kraftsow is part of the lineage that I am practicing under. Several principles that differentiate this method and create its effectiveness in the healing process, include:
Somatic Experience - practicing and feeling from the inside out, not focusing on what you look like on the outside, and befriending your body
Moving with your breath – allowing your body and breath to move in unison, learning to follow your breath
Repetition and Stay- the choice to move in and out of a shape or pose, or hold it for several breaths depending on your comfort level
Individual Sequencing- collaborative approach where you and your teacher create a practice that is unique to your needs, and make appropriate changes as you progress.
The physical part (asana) portion of your practice uses a technique of empowering you to check in with your body before and during a posture. First, by going to the edge of pain, that is your baseline, where you start from. This prevents the sympathetic nervous system [SNS] from firing up, thinking you are going into a place of pain or danger and tightening up even more. You will find yourself forming new habits such as to ask yourself “Is this safe, am I going to increase pain, is this working for me, am I ok here? By always starting from a place of comfort, listening to your body rather than to generalized cues, and by working through a complete practice in this way, you will begin to change your perceptions of your pain, and notice as it decreases. You will learn breathing practices to integrate relaxation and create the space for your body to move into. Your movement will eventually follow your breath. You will practice breath awareness, noticing the quality of your breath. Your thoughts are reflected in the quality of your breath and your breath is a reflection of the quality of your thoughts.
You will learn positive Mindful Techniques to change how you perceive your pain and start to work from a place of comfort. You can move away from the painful story toward a place of feeling comfortable in your body again, and reconnect with your true self.
This may also involve surrounding yourself with positive minded friends and supportive people, or joining a group of others who also want to play a meaningful role in their personal healing.
Restorative Yoga posesare vital to bringing the body into the ‘Relaxation Response’, whereby the parasympathetic nervous system [PNS] replaces the “fight, flight or freeze” state of the SNS, taking you to a place of deeper relaxation where healing of body and mind can take place.
Studies are ongoing in support of evidence based knowledge regarding Therapeutic Yoga.
In the International Journal of Yoga Therapy [IJYT], No.26, 2016, Mindful Yoga Pilot Study Shows Modulation of Abnormal Pain Processing in Fibromyalgia Patients, J.W. Carson et al. report that their “program showed significantly greater improvements on standardized measures of fibromyalgia symptoms and functioning, including pain, fatigue, stiffness, poor sleep, depression anxiety as well as improvements in measure of relaxation, acceptance and vigor…
In my teaching of therapeutic yoga, I have witnessed the physical and lifestyle benefits in my clients. I am currently midway through my Certification of 1000 hours as a Yoga Therapist, (CYT) with Maggie Reagh, founder of Yoga Therapy International, and look forward to many years of service to those who are searching for a path to healing. With loving self-awareness and compassion for yourself, learning to listen to your body’s whispers so thatit won’t need to scream, and letting your body know it’s OK to let go and BREATHE, you will come to know that you are not your pain! Listen to your body more than you listen to your pain.
Pelvic Wellness: Foundational Core and Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation
Protocol for an individually designed Core program of physical therapies:
- Assessment to identify hypertonic, tight, or hypotonic loose muscles
- Applying Release strategies for large muscles; psoas, piriformis, sciatic etc.
- Assessing other commonly related physical issues including: lumbar, spinal, sacroiliac, hip or sciatic pain, incontinence, prolapse, DRA diastasis recti abdominus, scoliosis, as well as digestive, sexual and menstrual difficulties.
- Using core physical therapy techniques to retrain the deep core muscles.
- Using Therapeutic Yoga techniques, begin working on any of the above-mentioned physical issues, by stabilizing and aligning of the back, hips and pelvis to create a healthy core foundation and environment for the organs.
- In the final phase, integrate strengthening of the pelvic floor (PF) muscles by using a combination of Therapeutic Yoga and (PF) Pfilates Therapy, in order to strengthen the pelvic area and deep core muscles.
This process involves much more than just ‘kegels’, and is often misunderstood and undertaught.
You will be provided with the knowledge and tools to take home to keep and practice confidently on your own!
Instructor: Brenna Jacobson, (C-IAYT) Certified Yoga Therapist
Pelvic Floor Pfilates Cert Teacher/Trainer (10 yrs experience)
Cert Pre-Post Natal Consultant
World Continence Week
World Continence Week since it’s inception in Cairo in 2008, Monday – Sunday in the last week of June.
It is estimated that incontinence affects approximately 400 million people worldwide. Historially people didn’t talk about their symptoms, find it too personal, embarrassing, or thinking their was something different or wrong with their bodies, in the form of nvoluntary leakage.
The purpose of World Continence Week is to increase public awareness and enourage people to
Educate themselves, but talking to a friend or family member, a doctor or healthcare provider, a professional who specializes in pelvic floor health and rehabilitation. Incontinence issues can affect self image, self confidene and quality of life.
So, now that you know you are definitely not alone, or different in some weird way, you may consider taking the first small step, get curious, seek help.
The good news is it’s never too late to to retrain the pelvic floor and associated muscular system. These muscles are no different than others, they respond to strength training programs and techniques, as well as release techniques. Yes, your pelvic floor muscles can be hypertonic (too tight) and need releasing before retraining. People automatically think incontinene is due to hypotonic (weak muscles) which often it is, if you are not an athletic person.
In honor of World Continence Week, we at Alongside You, are promoting pelvic health, and offering our 6 week Progressive Series for pelvic floor rehabilitation by retraining and conditioning . Bookings taken from Starting July 1st, 2017..
There is help available, take the first step!
Pelvic Floor Specialty, Yoga Therapy (250)
Pre-post Natal Consultant