Episode 158 ENCORE The Best Of HCP | Trauma-Informed Yoga: Interview With Kristine Weber

Dec 13, 2023

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What are some of the scientifically proven benefits of yoga? Why is it important to find the correct yoga instructor for you and your mental health needs? Can you practice yoga in session with your client?

MEET Kristine Weber

Kristine Weber, MA, C-IAYT, eRYT500 is a leading world authority on the neuroscientific benefits of slow, mindful yoga and an advocate for the use of these practices as an integral part of the solution to the healthcare crisis.

She is leading the charge to get slow, mindful practices to people who desperately need them through her Subtle® Yoga Revolution series of online courses and training for yoga teachers – which have been praised by thousands all over the world. She has been training mental health professionals to use yoga in their clinical practices for over a decade at the Mountain Area Health Education Center which is associated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Find out more at Subtle Yoga and connect with Kristine on, Instagram,  and Facebook

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  • Benefits of yoga for anxiety and depression
  • Yoga as a whole is not defined by one teacher
  • Benefits of clinician self-care with yoga for clients

Benefits Of Yoga For Anxiety & Depression

The German researcher Holger Kramer has conducted numerous meta-analyses and reviews of the benefits of yoga through a scientific lens to prove its effectiveness to the Western world.

[Holger Kramer conducted] systematic reviews on looking at yoga for depression, for anxiety, for mental health in general, for addiction recovery … one of the things he says in one study is the best yoga is the kind of yoga that you’ll do. (Kristine Weber)

It has been concluded that slow, mindful yoga is one of the best treatments for depression.

The world is beginning to move towards an evidence-informed practice of proving the efficiency of new treatments, which is necessary, but the yoga world does need to push more for more research credibility.

There are still many people who discredit the benefits of yoga, but that is simply because science needs to find the correct tools on how to prove yoga’s benefits.

Yoga As A Whole Is Not Defined By One Teacher

Many people have been put off by yoga or discredit the entire practice of yoga when they encounter a misinformed or brash instructor. It takes many hours of teaching a certain kind of person to lead a yoga class with patience and calmness.

One cannot bring aggression or tension into the yoga space. The yoga space is the place where those things are worked out of the body, and it is not possible to relieve tension with even more tension.

First of all, there is tons of good yoga going on out there, even if the teacher hasn’t been trained in trauma-informed practices they could still be really good. It’s more about going to classes and finding who you feel like is safe … and then refer [them]. (Kristine Weber)

For trauma-informed yoga practices, it is vital for yoga instructors that assist patients with anxiety and depression to be correctly trained. It is also important for doctors who refer patients to yoga instructors to know who they are sending patients to, and if this instructor will be good for guiding them on their treatment.

Benefits Of Clinician Self-Care With Yoga For Clients

There is certainly a parallel process going on … what we hear over and over again is clinicians saying to us “I can’t believe how good I feel when I do some yoga with my client” because we recommend that. We don’t recommend that you just sit there [and instruct]. (Kristine Weber)

As the clinician it is sometimes better for the client, and for you, to practice yoga in-session with your client. This creates not only a deeper connection between you and the client, but it creates a shared space of accountability.

You can encourage the client to let go and be an active part of their healing by being an active member alongside them.

You can use two to five minutes – brief interventions – at the beginning of the session, maybe another five in the middle of the session when there has been some traumatic sharing, and then another few minutes to close the session.

In the clinician and mental health profession, self-care – as a counselor and general care provider – is imperative.

Can you make your self-care as daily and as important as brushing your teeth?

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The Art of Breath: How to Integrate Breathwork Techniques for Effective Therapy Sessions with Chris McDonald, LCMHCS

Resources Mentioned And Useful Links:

Find out more at Subtle Yoga and connect with Kristine on, Instagram,  and Facebook

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Chris McDonald: Hey listeners, this is Chris MacDonald. I wanted to let you know that this is my first Encore episode I'm bringing back for you from earlier in my podcast. I've been rolling out four to five episodes per month for two and a half years. And now I'm up to 150 episodes, which is amazing. And much thanks to you, the listener for tuning in and supporting the podcast.

But with that many releases for that period of time, it has started to wear me down. I've been feeling more burned out this past fall. So. I'm working on my self care this holiday season and taking some time off from recording. For you, I'm releasing my most favorite and most popular top three episodes that I'm sure you're going to love.

Even if you've heard these before, I know listening a second time, you'll still learn something new. Today's episode is with my yoga teacher, trainer, mentor, Christine Weber. She offers a wealth of knowledge for you, and I know it will be beneficial for you. Stay tuned. And I hope you enjoy these ENCORE episodes.

This is Holistic Counseling, the podcast for mental health therapists who want to deepen their knowledge of holistic modalities and build their practice with confidence. I'm your host, Chris McDonald, licensed therapist. I am so glad you're here for the journey.

Welcome to today's episode of the Holistic Counseling podcast. I'm your host, Chris McDonald. Today's guest is someone who is a great mentor to me. My former yoga teacher who taught me in my 200 hour yoga teacher training, she really got me started in using holistic yoga through my clinical practice. And what I loved about her training is it was specifically geared towards behavior health professionals.

When I first started looking, I found a lot of regular yoga training. But realized that I wanted something that was geared towards licensed professionals. And this totally, the subtle yoga totally met the mark. So I'm also a part of her membership site, the Subtle Yoga Resilience Society since last summer.

And I love it. So I've been using that every week as part of my personal practice and as part of learning, continuing to learn about subtle yoga to use with my clients. And her name is Christine Weber, and she is a leading world authority on the neuroscientific benefits of slow, mindful yoga and an advocate for the use of these practices as a part of the solution to the health care crisis.

She's been training mental health professionals to use yoga in their clinical practices for over a decade in Asheville, North Carolina, but she is coming to us. From all the way in New Zealand, the first international person on the podcast. Yay. Welcome to the podcast,

Kristine Weber: Christine. Oh, that was a good intro.


Chris McDonald: I try.

Kristine Weber: Yes. I'm coming from New Zealand because we moved here.

Chris McDonald: I was so jealous of you during the pandemic when they were doing so well with the pandemic. I was like, she'd picked the right time

Kristine Weber: to move. My husband is from. Awkward. So it wasn't a big deal for us to move here and we don't know how long we'll be here.

We thought we'd just go hide out. You see for a while.

Chris McDonald: Good for you. Is it, is Covid still in control there

Kristine Weber: and Yes. They don't have any cases. Occasionally they don't get a case in managed isolation, which is their quarantine program, but there's no cases in the community. Yeah, it's pretty amazing actually what they've done.

But it's an island, so, you know, that's true to Island, right?

Chris McDonald: Right. That has to be refreshing when you came from the U.

Kristine Weber: S. And it was, it was like, I felt like I won the lottery. That's what it felt like. It did. I know. I won the COVID lottery when we got. Out of managed isolation. 'cause you have to be in quarantine for two weeks.

And then we got out. Oh, okay. Mm-Hmm. . And we went to the airport and we flew to Christchurch, which is where we're living. Um, and just saw people being normal. It was, I just brought me to I

Chris McDonald: love that. People being normal . Oh, I bet. Wow. That is something. But can you share more with my listeners more about yourself and your work?

Kristine Weber: Sure. So I have been teaching yoga since 1995, and I started training yoga teachers in 2003. My husband is a psychotherapist. His name is Brett Skullthorpe. He's a licensed clinical addiction specialist, licensed clinical addiction. Sorry, I already said that licensed social work, clinical social worker, and also he's a prevention specialist and a yogi.

And so we've been collaborating for a long time. Um, and. Started to think it was like in the mid 2000s. We were like, we really need training for mental health professionals. Let's figure out how to do this. And nobody at that time, that would have been around 2005, 2006. Nobody at that time was talking about yoga and.

Mental health. In fact, it was yoga was so exercise oriented back then. And it still is. There's still, but there's more yoga now. And so we decided to, to collaborate and try and figure out how to reach out to some, some agencies that might be interested in yoga. And. The other person, of course, was one of my students at the time, Ashley Lester, who's also a licensed clinical social worker.

And so, and my husband's very introverted and he was like, I don't really want to present that. I was like, okay. And so I asked Ashley. And so together, well, that's how she got involved. Right? Right. And so together we approached may hack the mountain area health education center, which is very prominent.

Continuing education organization in the Western part of North Carolina. It's affiliated with UNC Chapel Hill as all the AHECs are the area health education centers. And, but MAINHEC has always been very much on the cutting edge because it's in Asheville. And so there's so much. And Asheville is

Chris McDonald: always on the cutting edge, right?

Kristine Weber: Yeah. And there's so much, there's so much MAINHEC. First, they were like, what, what are you trying to do here? They just didn't get it. So we did a little plotting and we said, we got to find the person who knows something about yoga at Mayhack. And so we found the person who had the yoga mat in her office.

And we were like, there, you know, and it turned out, and it was Elizabeth Fleming. And it turned out that she. Was the director of the mental health continuing education at that time and she was like, you want to do yoga for depression, anxiety and trauma and addiction recovery. We're like, yeah, we want to teach about that.

And she was like. Okay,

Chris McDonald: so you're right, finding

Kristine Weber: the right person. Yeah, it was about finding the right person. She was like, I think that sounds cool. And when we first started, we'd have these tiny little classes, like 10 or eight or 10 people. And I remember one guy coming to the class going, I just need CEUs.

That's the only reason I'm here. And this has nothing to do with mental health. And I was like, uh, okay, that was the, that was one of my first, you know, it was very hard sell in the beginning. I should say, but over these past 12 or 11 or 12 years, things have shifted dramatically. And now we have people coming from all over the country because our program is so unique.

It was the first of its kind in the country, but doing it for a long time, we've graduated. Hundreds of clinicians and it's just, it's so exciting. And then the other factors, right? Like how much therapy has started to look to the body and to bring Yeah, a big shift

Chris McDonald: to the somatic

Kristine Weber: awareness. Big shift, right?

I agree. So that's also been really supportive of our work. And right now, I'm in the middle, I don't know if you know this, Chris, but I'm in the middle of a research study. Oh, that's great. Yeah, we're doing a research study at a state run treatment facility for drug and alcohol treatment facility in collaboration with East Tennessee University on looking to subtle yoga.

Support recovery and early recovery. The first two weeks of early recovery, just some of the, you know, the support it and. Can it be delivered by clinicians because I trained the trainers. I'm not delivering the service in that study. I trained the clinicians to deliver the service, which I think is a really powerful, potentially could be a very powerful strategy because clinicians already have this trust relationship with their clients, right?

Yeah. And so if they're delivering the service, there's going to be more buy in, more people like, okay, I can do yoga. And then also understanding the co morbid physical limitations that often come along with mental health challenges, like, like low back pain, like fatigue, being able to share, share yoga practices.

That's what we're doing in the study chair yoga and reframing yoga as a way To regulate the nervous system rather than just a fitness. And that's what I

Chris McDonald: learned with subtle yoga was that whole psychoeducation piece that we're not going to give you abs or you're not here for the strength training.

It's all about the nervous system regulation.

Kristine Weber: Exactly. Yeah. So important. Yeah. So that's what I've been up to. And then since I moved to New Zealand, I'm just. Doing everything remotely, which is why I'm like, Oh, no, how long we can stay here? Cause I'm getting up really early in the morning.

Chris McDonald: That's sure. The time difference has got to be a shift for you.


Kristine Weber: But mostly, mostly what I'm doing now is working on some online programs. So we'll have this year, we'll have an online introductory course out for mental health professionals. But it won't be, it won't be the whole teacher training, but it'll at least be some. Introduction and a lot of practices that mental health professionals could use,

Chris McDonald: right?

I know that your background, you've had a lot of training and I know you went to India at one point. So what was it about the slow, mindful yoga that you dove into instead of? The other

Kristine Weber: kinds, well, actually slow, mindful yoga is the way that yoga was taught to me when I started doing it. So I had a social studies teacher in 6th grade who was a hippie.

So it's been like 1977 or something. And she taught us yoga class on Wednesday afternoons during our club period. We went to yoga club and that was. It was slow and mindful, like that, that's how you were introduced. Yeah. Yeah. That's how I was introduced. And then I went to India when I went to Asia. First of all, I had lived in California for a few years in the late eighties after grad school.

And at that time I started doing some yoga. There were only two yoga studios in the Bay area at that time. There was the Iyengar Institute. There might've been three, but anyway, there was the Iyengar Institute. There was another one out in the Haight Ashbury. And then there was one over in, in the Bay Area.

So I was studying yoga just with some of my body work teachers who were teaching yoga as part of body work. So, so I did some yoga in the Bay Area, but I never got into fitness based yoga. I was doing it as a healing practice. Then I went to. Asia for 4 years, I spent about 6 months in India at various ashrams, studying yoga, lots of lots of meditation.

That's really was always taught to me as the primary yoga practice was meditation. And then. The asanas and the breathing practices support the meditation and, and the whole point of yoga is to still your mind, which is also the point of psychotherapy to be in heaven.

Chris McDonald: That's why there's such a great intersection

Kristine Weber: with that, right?

Right. I mean, it's all about agency, isn't that? And having control over the monkey mind. So, so I learned all that in India when I came back to the States in 1995, I just started teaching like that. And then it started to hit me, Oh, something has changed about yoga in this country. Cause I was going to classes and workshops and I was like, Whoa, somebody is, this is all about sweating.

And it was very different here than when I had studied it. And I did, I have to admit, I learned how to teach that kind of. fitness yoga, because that's what everybody expected. And I thought, if I'm going to be a yoga teacher, I have to learn how to do this. And it's not rocket science. So I figured out how to teach Vinyasa.

I took a few workshops and I had done training. And also I spent six weeks training at an ashram that was in Mexico. So I, so I had been teaching all this stuff. I had been trained to teach sort of more traditional yoga, but then. I encountered the fitness craze and thought, okay, if you can't beat them, join them.

And I started teaching hard, fast, sweaty stuff. And it was in 2002 or 2003, maybe. One day I came to class and to teach her, it was raining outside and there were only like five people in my class. And they said, Hey, what do y'all wanna do today? And one of the women said, I wanna do what you do. And I was like, what do you mean?

She said, what's your home practice like? And I was like, interesting that, yeah, she, it was interesting 'cause I guess, you know, I was always talking about India and my travels and blah, blah, blah, and my meditation. And so, so I was like, you want to do that? You don't want to do that. And she's like, no, I want to try that.

And everybody else in the group was like this introverted day and everybody else in the group said, yeah, let's do that. And so I led them through this one hour sequence of what I do in my whole practice, including some pranayama and meditation. And at the end of the class, they said, we want to do that every week.

Chris McDonald: Amazing. Feel good for you to validate.

Kristine Weber: It was very validating. Yeah. It was like, Oh, you're supposed to teach what not try and fake it, which is, I guess what I was doing. I wasn't trying to fake it, but I was trying to do something that I wasn't passionate about. And there's a different,

Chris McDonald: I'm sure. And how that feels in your body

Kristine Weber: and.

Yeah. And how it feels in your body and also in my sense of mastery over the material. So I never was a really like an athletic person, but I was never like a hyper mobile, acrobatic kind of yoga person. That's just isn't me. And I had a lot of struggles with feeling inferior about that because of what was so popular, but I worked really hard and I started my Teacher training and I started training teachers in 2003, and I started my own program in 2006 and I started.

Really working on the messaging, the psychoeducational stuff, like this is for your nervous system. It's not for your, but this is about mental health. It's not about fitness. And of course, there's some overlap there, but just making that distinction helped people be like, okay, I could do my exercise there.

But when I come to Christine's work, when I work with her, I know that I'm working with her to help regulate my nervous system. And it's a different. Goal. I have a different goal and regulate my nervous system and also look more closely look more, you know, give myself time to to contemplate and look at my life and see what I want from my life.

And that's when this. Kind of practice does, which is pretty

Chris McDonald: profound. Yeah.

Kristine Weber: Yeah. And I think it's why I dub dovetails so well with, with mental health work, whatever you're doing in terms of mental health, particularly with addiction recovery, but, but very much also with improving mental health, because it is about that giving yourself time.

And space to be present with yourself and start developing a better relationship with yourself and start to untangle a lot of the cultural and familial patterning that really makes people miserable. Yeah, that's

Chris McDonald: true. I'm thinking about the past year with the pandemic and how much more, and I think more people have turned to yoga and meditation in the past year to more introspection.

Kristine Weber: And I don't know if there's any data on that. I don't know. I'm just getting. Yeah, I know. I mean, it would be lovely if that was the case, but the date and perhaps it is, I don't know. Somebody has to study on it, but, but most of the data. Yeah. Yeah. Most of the data that I'm seeing is about weight gain. A lack of activity, lack of fitness, lack of exercise, increased chronic health conditions.

That's most of the data that I'm seeing. Unfortunately, I think the rationale is because it's a global trauma, right? Yes. So we're in the middle of a global trauma and what do people prioritize during trauma? Survival. And so eating is considered essential. During survival, watching the news will be considered essential because you got to make sure things are, you're safe.

And then everything else just is gone. Everything else goes away, including contemplative, including the opportunity to contemplate the future and what your life is about and what you want to do with yourself. Like, that's just all good gets put on hold during trauma. So not everybody's going to experience this as traumatic, but in general, it's a global trauma.

And so that requires trauma interventions, I think, and one of the, one of the main things with trauma is you've got to get the nervous system back online so that there is the capacity to contemplate. You have to get back into the nephrofron cortex. So there is a capacity to contemplate because otherwise you're just survival brain.

And that's the survival brain mode for long periods of time is what leads to chronic stress and chronic inflammation and chronic health conditions.

Chris McDonald: Exactly. And I think that makes a lot of sense about the trauma piece. And I still have clients that struggle even getting vaccinated because now we got the vaccine here in North Carolina and it's available to anyone that wants it.

But some are still having that pandemic anxiety. That's pretty debilitating. But I try to use the psychoeducation as well that. This is a global trauma, and it makes sense why that your brain has not caught up with this, and it's going to take some time to work through this and process it. And that's why I find that subtle yoga comes in so perfectly, because like, just for example, like last night I had a client I saw, and immediately when she jumped on the video call, she was just, you could tell she's like fidgety and hyped up, so we immediately did some of the grounding.

It's a little bit of breath work, three part breath. And then afterwards she was just like, I feel so much better. And she was all, that's so good. Yeah. So being able to see it, that's why I love it because I can't imagine someone like that to start. Okay. Let's just start with top therapy. I mean, you can.

But I just feel like it brings it to a whole other level.

Kristine Weber: And also the neuroscience of what's going on there. So when somebody is acting out of their limbic brain or even brain stem and not the prefrontal cortex isn't online, then you can't have rational conversations with someone. So you've got to address somatic intervention.

In order to be able to access the front brain and that executive function stuff. So, so that's the piece of it that I think is, um, so helpful for psychotherapists, because when you do have somebody. In your office or in the zoom call who is exhibiting this anxiety symptoms, you're not necessarily going to be able to talk that person down.

Not always. No. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, sometimes. Yeah. But that requires a certain level of regulation. Uh, self regulation that the person already inherently can access if somebody is not being able to access that, whatever their tools are for self regulation, then you do have to bring the body into the conversation.

And frankly, a problem with psychotherapy in the West is that we bifurcated the body and the mind and the spirit trifurcated. I guess that's what the word being we've we have separated. Yeah, and so forced the body, mind and spirit, what yoga offers us beyond the somatic interventions is the opportunity to believe that Cartesian dualism in the dustbins of history where it belongs.

So it's been around way too long and reclaim our very human. Need for integration of body, mind, and spirit. That is the way that human beings are supposed to live. And you can actually trace the mental health epidemic, the substance abuse epidemic back to that dysfunctional worldview that all of us in this cultural hole, the bio psycho spiritual.

Advice, psychosocial, spiritual, it's not simply that there's something wrong with your nervous system or that there's something dysfunctional about your brain. No, those things are all part of the equation, but actually the bigger overarching problem is the worldview issue and this worldview. Is what ends us, causes us to end up with the massive social and cultural and environmental problems that we're facing, including racism, including the environment, including the pandemic, all of these things emerge from a dysfunctional capitalism driven worldview that is not human.

It doesn't look at the world and say, the world is a spiritual place, and I'm here to play the yogis use the word Maya, and they are to play in this spiritual, in this divine, if you like, in this divine universe and everything. And if you don't want to go to the religious part of that, that's fine, but.

Even the most devout atheists can admit that every single thing in this universe in the natural world is interconnected and interdependent. Absolutely. We are part of the, and we are part of this natural world and we are interconnected and we are interdependent and we keep pushing ourselves into greater and greater isolation.

Which we see the uptick, right? So mental health problems were at 11 percent in 2019. By December, 2020, they were 40 percent of Americans were reporting mental health problems. So we see what happens with isolation. It is fundamentally against our nature as human beings. And when we reclaim who we are as human beings, and we reclaim our perspective on this world as a, as interconnected, if not divine, it.

It offers this whole new world for you from which to not only approach therapy, but approach everything about our lives that we can reclaim our birthright, which is as an interconnected, interdependent species amongst living in this world that is generated and maintained by love. And when we start getting into that, we re we start to heal our dysfunctional attachment pattern.

We start to heal that stuff. And the dysfunctional attachment patterning comes because of the worldview.

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Kristine Weber: comes back to that. You know, it always comes back to that.

It always comes back to this dysfunction and the worldview, but I see things shifting and here's the thing when you have a global trauma. You have the opportunity, you have the opportunity for global post traumatic grits, global post traumatic grits. I love that. Yeah.

Chris McDonald: Thinking of the growth opportunity with that.

And I think that's another thing that clinicians should be aware of, that the yoga that you teach is the trauma informed and you really emphasize that throughout the training.

Kristine Weber: Yeah, we look through the lens of trauma. We look through the lens of trauma. And so that's saying that there is personal, societal, global trauma that affects all of us.

And I never ever want to, you're always going to trigger people. So I recently learned the term brave space, BRAV, brave space we used talk about safe, we always talk about safe spaces and it's great to create safe spaces, but they're never gonna be safe for everybody. No. So when we talk about this idea of brave space.

It's like we can create a space where you can feel brave and that sense of courage is the fire in the belly, literally in the yoga tradition that can help you with personal as well as social transformation. I haven't heard that before. That's really interesting. I love it. Yeah, I learned that, uh, recently and I just, I feel like it's such a powerful way of thinking.

Yeah, actually, I learned it from a woman. I'll just give her a little shout out here. I have to remember her last name. I remember the first name. Let's see. She does a lot of work with social justice. Her name is Charlie, but I can't remember her last

Chris McDonald: name. I'm like, you can look it up. Yeah. Anyway, we'll add it in the show notes too.

If here's the link.

Kristine Weber: Okay. She's, and I believe, and I can't remember where she's located, but anyway, she does really good work with social justice. And she taught me this idea, brave space, which I just love.

Chris McDonald: Yeah. So can you share any of the research that shows the benefits of yoga on anxiety or

Kristine Weber: depression?

Some of the bets are just off the top of my head, obviously, there's, there's a lot of it, but some of the best studies have come out of Germany from this guy named, this researcher named Holger Kramer. And he's done numerous meta analyses and systematic reviews on looking at yoga for depression, for anxiety, for mental health in general, for addiction recovery.

One of the things I really love, he says a couple of things. So one of the things he says in one study. Is that the best yoga is the kind of yoga that you'll do. I love that.

Chris McDonald: I've heard that before. That's great. It's the

Kristine Weber: best. But there, but he has also concluded in a study about depression, and I've seen this in other places as well, that slow, mindful yoga is the best yoga for depression.

Which makes perfect sense. Cause you're not going to send somebody with yoga class. Yeah, exactly. You're not going to send them to high yoga. So that makes a lot of sense to me. So any of his work, I highly recommend. There's also a group of researchers called the Kripalu Research Consortium. I haven't seen anything from them lately, but in 2014, they, uh, published an article about the mechanisms that underlie.

And I can give you the link to the article for the mechanisms that underlie the benefits of yoga on psychological health. So that's another good study. Good kind of general study that I would recommend. There's also a study that came out of Duke. I believe it was in 2012. Called yoga on our minds. That was also a meta analysis systematic review.

That was awesome. So we're starting to move towards a evidence informed, if not evidence. Yeah. That's what I was going to say to practice. And yeah, there's nobody, we need somebody in the yoga world. It's probably not me, but we need somebody in the world who's like Francine Shapiro of EMDR. And what Francine did was just push and push for 20 years of research studies until she got EMDR recognized in the evidence based registry.

And yoga is such a broad word and it means so many things. And there's so much yoga out there that is not trauma informed. That is not accessible. That is not nervous system oriented that can mess up your nervous system that can mess up your back. There's so much yoga out there. So yoga in itself will, I think will never be in the evidence based registry, but there are certain people like myself and a bunch of other people that are working towards more protocols that could potentially get into the evidence based registry.

So like we're going in that direction, but at the moment there's as a clinician, if you want to refer your clients to yoga, you have to be incredibly. Discriminating, discerning, I should say about. Who you're going to refer your clients to because there's yoga out there that is not safe emotion. Oh, my God.


Chris McDonald: The best part of your training was we had to go to different classes and write up a report and check off of all the trauma informed and how they set up their classes. Oh, my God,

Kristine Weber: you got the first hand

Chris McDonald: I went to, I wanted to go to different places I'd never been. So I was like, okay, let me try this out.

And the one lady, she stopped the class and just what everybody's doing is wrong. I'm just like, I was taking a back. Now, first of all, there was like 20 people in this little room and I was in the middle. And I'm not, no, I didn't have PTSD. I was just like, oh my God, I felt so tense just being there. But then when she's just like, I mean, I

Kristine Weber: don't want to, I don't want to gossip about or down the yoga world, but I will say that I've had three different students who were sent to the emergency room in an ambulance.

After panic attacks from a particular yoga

Chris McDonald: teacher. I could totally see that because she, she made everybody just, um, do their, what was the pose? Oh gosh, now I can't even think of it. Oh, could just Cobra. I think it was just Cobra because it was the elbows. If your elbows aren't tucked in and it has to be perfect.

And then she kept touching me during, I was just like, dude. Right. Stop touching

Kristine Weber: me. Incorrect. Well, this is very common, and many yoga teachers haven't, but their fitness, their fitness professionals, and you think about fitness professionals and how they bark at their, at their students. So there's a lot of that.

And that's why the main thing is, first of all, there's tons of really good yoga going on out there. And even if the teacher hasn't been.

So it's more about just going to classes, finding who you feel like is safe. And you're never going to change anybody, but just find who you're safe and then refer because you can't just say, go do yoga. Like, I hear that all the time. Doctors are like, oh, you need to do yoga. If the doctor doesn't know who to refer to, it's a big problem.

You're going to reach traumatize someone. Physically or emotionally and or emotionally. And so it's very important for people for mental health, allied health professionals to really understand what they're doing in referrals and to not just hear who's the good yoga teacher is because often the good yoga teacher in your town is an acrobat and maybe has a fun personality, but they do some kind of acrobatic performance kind of yoga.

That's not where you want to send people. It has to be people who really understand. And basically you want to look for a yoga therapist if you can. Find a yoga therapist they may or may not be trauma informed. Finding

Chris McDonald: the proper person. I think as clinicians, because we don't want to do harm either with the clients that we see.

So we want to be careful who we refer

Kristine Weber: to. Absolutely. So you have to be informed. I mean, just like the way you would be with when you're referring to other therapists, you don't just go, oh, go get psychotherapy to your clients when it's when you need to refer out. You're like, I want you to go to this person because this is the person who's going to help you with.

With the X, Y, or Z, and that's what you need, and I can't do that. So it's the same thing with referring to, to yoga professionals. You want that? You want to feel like it's not the same thing because you want to keep doing therapy with your client. But if you want to help your client, because you think they need more of that somatic regulation, then you have to find the right yoga person for that.

Chris McDonald: Okay. So can you talk to the benefits of clinician self care if they're using yoga with clients? How does that help the clinician?

Kristine Weber: There is certainly a parallel process going on here. And what we hear over and over again is clinicians saying to us, I can't believe how good I feel when I do some yoga with my client, because we recommend that.

We don't recommend you sitting there and saying, Okay, do this and just instructing. Yeah, but also it's so awkward particular. It can be awkward in groups, but particularly one on one. It's awkward for you to be sitting there and telling the client what to do. Rather what makes more sense or what's more human is.

Hey, let's stand up together because you just told me this really heavy story and that must feel really hard for you. And you may not say it, but you're feeling and it's hard for me, right? Because of the curious trauma. So let's stand up and now we're going to do this thing. Whatever we have all these interventions.

Maybe it's inhale doing sun breaths, like, take your arms up over your head as you inhale and exhale and lower them back down. We're going to do that 10 times. And as we act, so we're going to release the story and let it go out there. Um, and, you know, let come out from us, let it go out there and let it be absorbed by the love.

Okay. Of your DNA. If you're somebody who's religious or the earth, if you want to think about it that way, the earth as a recycling program for your emotions. So let's do this 10 times. And then you are doing this 10 deep breaths with a little bit of arm movement. And you're also visualizing and letting the story go.

And, and there's a parallel process is it's essential. I mean, or it shouldn't say essential. It's inevitable is what I mean. It's inevitable. This parallel process is going to influence your nervous system. And so instead of having to sit there and hold this tension in your body from the traumatic stories that you're hearing from your clients, you're able to integrate it as well.

So we. Typically recommend folks use two or three or five minutes at the beginning of practice at the beginning of the session and then in the middle of the session when something feels heavy and needs to be integrated. That's another place. And then as a closing ritual and different. Clinicians do different things based on what, what works for them and then many of the people that we've, and what, what feels natural, what feels like it flows with their session and many of the people we've trained to group sessions where they're doing longer interventions, 20 or 30 minutes of yoga interventions for nervous system regulating, they do some psychoeducational piece, they do some practices, then they talk about it and integrate it.

So there's a check in a checkout, maybe some, maybe some. Yeah. piece in the middle. And they're doing 20 or 30 minutes of chair practices or standing or even mat practices. This is such a wonderful way to run groups, you know, groups often time. Yeah. And I think groups oftentimes are about learning. They're, they're about learning techniques that you can take away.

They're about processing and feeling like you're in community. So yoga fits in really well there. So we have lots of people who really love the shorter practices, the brief interventions, we like to call them in their clinical sessions. And then there's lots of people who like to do groups once or twice a week, and then they're getting to do this yoga and this breathing and they feel

Chris McDonald: better.

I got to tell you, it's amazing. It really is. Especially because some days I don't always have. Subtle yoga in my sessions, depending on the clients or what's happening that day. But I was like, sometimes when I get to do, it's a good subtle yoga day and it's like such a difference. It really makes a difference,

Kristine Weber: right?

So at the end of the day, you've seen three or five or God forbid, seven clients, but people do it. You've seen all these clients after your day. And I think it's a day you don't feel so drained because you've done a few things to recharge throughout the day.

Chris McDonald: And the other part with that, too, and it's not always grounding, it's the energizing piece.

And before our interview, I did some of the energizing, uh, parts of subtle yoga. And that helps, too, because if you're just feeling drained and how am I going to keep going and what did I do? Five minutes. But even that five minutes is

Kristine Weber: so helpful. It's amazing how much five minutes can change your day.

It's really amazing. And then you start to think, Miss, five minutes felt good. Maybe it will feel better. Exactly. I know. But self care is an ethical imperative, right? In self care, particularly in the healing professions. I think That the mental health profession is much better at self care than the allied health world as so, and other people in the allied health world.

So I love the fact that mental health clinicians are so focused on self care and you, when you start thinking about your day, like I'm going to get out just 10 minutes earlier. So I can lie on the floor and stretch out a little bit and do some breathing while I'm moving. How much better your day is because of that small time that you took to take care of yourself and how much better you're going to show up for other people.

And I think

Chris McDonald: that's so integrative too with our busy days that I took five minutes. Everybody's got five minutes. If you don't have five minutes, that's a problem right there.

Kristine Weber: Exactly. You

Chris McDonald: know. Exactly. And because there is, I think, as I've talked to a lot of therapists and counselors over the years, a lot of times it does come up.

Oh, I don't have time or how can I do this? And my schedule is already busy, but it's that prioritizing. I think we talked about this in episode six. I had Dr Carla Marie Manley on and then she mentioned the same thing about it being an apparent and it's like, you have to make time for it in order for you to be most effective as a clinician.

Kristine Weber: That's right. And why is that not a universal throughout the healthcare system? It blows my mind. Yeah. Oh,

Chris McDonald: absolutely. Yeah. So do you have another teacher training coming up? Yes, I

Kristine Weber: do. Actually, where we began are this year's cohort are ready, but there's still time to jump in. The trainings will resume in September.

So you can look up the information at Mayhack. org or on, I think it's on my website. If you don't find it on my website, it's definitely on Mayhack's website. My website is subtleyoga. com.

Chris McDonald: And what is a takeaway that you could share today that could help listeners who are starting their holistic

Kristine Weber: journey?

Personally or professionally?

Chris McDonald: Whenever you want to share, there's no right or wrong answer. What

Kristine Weber: I would share Is that when you take some time every day to connect with your breath and connect with the sensations in your body and connect with your higher power, that it helps you not only to know yourself better and have a deeper sense of meaning and purpose.

But it helps you to reconnect with your humanity with that part of you that that pure untouched part of you that part of you that never changes that part of you that's eternal. If you like, if you think in those terms, if you don't, that's okay, but it helps you to connect with that part of yourself. So my takeaway would be, can you spend 5 minutes every day and all you have with whatever your favorite contemplative thing is, whatever your favorite.

All right. Movement and stretching is whatever your favorite breath is. Start there. I could teach you a lot more, of course, your favorite, whatever your favorite is right now, or start there. And, and bring it, make it a part of your life as common and as natural as brushing your teeth and you will start, you will begin to see profound changes and you'll find more contentment and feel a greater sense of meaning and purpose and connection to all beings if you do that.

So, however, you're doing it for yourself is part. I see that as part of yoga, whether it's in a religious context or not. I see it as part of the tradition, and I hope that, uh, your listeners value themselves enough and see the importance and see the importance of your work. It's so such important work, especially at these times that you will take time to take care of yourself.

Chris McDonald: And on that, thank you for coming on today, Christie.

Kristine Weber: Thanks for having me. It was really fun to talk to you. Yeah, this is awesome. Great to hear about your work. Yeah.

Chris McDonald: And to my listeners, thank you for tuning in today and being part of this holistic community. Remember to subscribe, rate, review wherever you get your podcasts.

And this is Chris McDonald sending each one of you much light and love. Until next time, take care. Thanks for listening. The information in this podcast is for general educational purposes only, and it is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are giving legal financial counseling or any other kind of professional advice.

If you need a professional, please find the right one for you. The Holistic Counseling Podcast is proudly part of the Sitecraft Network.

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Have you been wanting to integrate breathwork into your sessions but are unsure how?   Or maybe you want to refine your technique? Join me on a remarkable journey as we delve into breathwork techniques and how to integrate them safely and ethically into sessions. 

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Self-Care for the Counselor - a holistic guide for helping professionals by Christine McDonald , MS,NCC,LPCS