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Over the years, I have been asked this question repeatedly, and have researched it deeply: “What makes a good yoga therapist?” The qualities of the individual therapist cannot be standardized across students; they can only be guided. The system, however, can be formalized. If the system is clear, comprehensive, and effective, it should automatically guide you in making the choices that are likely to deliver the best outcomes.
The critical requirement of such a holistic system is a comprehensive central map. This is the greatest challenge. To create such a map one must look deeply into and widely across traditional and modern sources, and temper them with clinical and teaching experience. We must pick what is relevant, where it useful, and decide how to connect it all.
We can create models emphasizing modern science (e.g. polygaval theory) or models emphasizing traditional frameworks (e.g. koshas). However, none of these is truly holistic; they cannot by themselves be a comprehensive basis for yoga for wellbeing and therapy.
The best approach is to organize the central map of wellbeing by self-care skills—what the individual or patient practices. Those skills are the final common path of all models in the yoga field. They are what the teacher delivers to the student, or the therapist to the client. These skills create the shift from ill-being to wellbeing and they are the moat of prevention that increases resilience.
My goal for several years now has been to create a best-in-class holistic wellbeing system that:
– combines ancient and modern approaches;
– is easiest to support from a scientific and experiential perspective; and
– will reliably deliver good clinical outcomes for most common needs.
As an outcome of that work, I now present the updated syllabus and map of the Svastha system. It is a comprehensive, holistic approach to wellbeing that covers self-care for prevention, resilience, and therapy.
At the heart of the Svastha system are wellbeing skills organized across 10 domains. Around those wellbeing skills, I have woven traditional yoga frameworks and modern science. Traditional frameworks give us connections and insights from an experiential angle. Modern science gives us explanations from a biological foundation. On this comprehensive basis, the Svastha system examines modern diagnoses, translating relevant pathology and the story of the patient into self-care needs that we can address. Putting all this together, we can guide teachers and therapists to deliver the best care in the easiest way possible.
I have considered what should go under each topic, for the greatest relevance and effectiveness and least overlap and confusion. A key goal has been to decrease the need to unlearn and relearn, or to fill in important gaps on your own, this and ensures that you will not find yourself stuck in your journey as a student, teacher, or therapist.
Parts of the program on pranayama and emotions are already online at https://online.svastha.net (you can see these topics in the syllabus under the wellbeing domains of Feeling and Breathing). More topics will follow soon, starting with movement, more breathing skills, ayurveda, and some of the disorders.
Online delivery and the updated system offer flexibility to choose your topics. There are many other advantages too: recordings to replay whenever you wish, time for study and practice over weeks to months instead of days, systematic structure, deeper content and wider practice options, periodic interactive sessions, mentoring (to be announced) and more. Of course, it is also substantially less expensive than traveling to attend on-site.
The earlier, decade-old seven module structure of the Svastha Yoga Therapy Program is now replaced by this expanded and updated system. Those of you who have completed part of the earlier program and wish to continue further, please email us at [email protected]. You should be able to select a pathway of upcoming topics that suits your needs and interests best.
I will offer further updates in time. Thank you. 🙏🙂
Dr. Ganesh Mohan