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Transformative Journey through Yoga Therapy: An Interview with Satpreet Kaur

Welcome to The Foundations TV, everyone! Our guest today on Conversations is SatPreet Kaur. Welcome, SatPreet, to Foundations TV.

SatPreet: Thank you, Gauri. I’m very happy to be here and having this conversation with The Foundations TV.

Host: We're excited to have you here. SatPreet's background is impressive. She is a certified yoga therapist, a Yoga Alliance 500-hour registered yoga teacher, a Pilates teacher, a Reiki master, and trained in Ayurvedic practices. You have volunteered to teach yoga to clients experiencing homelessness, participated in stress reduction yoga support groups, and have been teaching yoga as lifestyle medicine for the past 15 years across the globe. Currently, you teach in the KBM tradition at assisted living and rehab nursing facilities and run an online functional group yoga for thyroid health. That's a whole lot of experience, and I'm sure it's very humbling and gratifying to impact so many lives.

But this wasn't always your career path. You were a full-time employee at British Airways before pivoting towards yoga. What inspired you to become a yoga therapist, and how has your journey been so far?

SatPreet: It's been a lived experience. I feel fortunate to now work as a yoga therapist. My journey began with my own healing from back pain, hypothyroidism, and burnout from a high-profile, stressful job. In my late 20s, despite taking medication for hypothyroidism, I experienced extreme fatigue and lethargy, affecting my ability to participate in life and be present for my kids. This led me to explore yoga and yoga therapy, which profoundly transformed my health and perspective. Over time, my energy levels improved, my back pain disappeared, and my blood work normalized to the point where my doctor said I no longer needed medication.

Host: That’s incredible. How did you find yoga therapy?

SatPreet: Yoga therapy found me during my search for healing modalities. Through regular practice and guidance from a teacher and mentor, I became more empowered in my healing process. Yoga therapy helped me understand how to regulate my nervous system, identify stress points, and manage life's challenges more effectively. The journey wasn't linear, but the rewards have been profound.

Host: What is the difference between traditional yoga and yoga therapy?

SatPreet: Yoga therapy is an emerging field focused on personalized healing. While all yoga can be therapeutic, traditional yoga classes involve mixed abilities going through the same routine. In yoga therapy, the approach is tailored to individual needs through one-on-one or small group sessions. A yoga therapist assesses five layers of the human system—physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Based on these assessments, a practice is designed using tools like asanas (postures), pranayama (breath practices), mudras (gestures), chants, visualizations, and daily routines aligned with circadian rhythms. This holistic approach leads to profound and deep changes.

Host: That’s fascinating. What recommendations do you make for your clients outside of the studio?

SatPreet: As yoga therapists, we avoid giving direct nutritional advice since we aren't nutritionists. However, we do recommend Ayurvedic routines that align with circadian rhythms, such as when to wake up, what to drink, and the importance of hydration. These recommendations are customized based on each client's needs and time availability.

Host: That makes sense. You mentioned your yoga therapy philosophies are rooted in ancient Indian philosophy. How do you integrate spirituality into your sessions, especially with clients from diverse backgrounds?

SatPreet: Yoga therapy is grounded in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a 5,000-year-old ancient wisdom aimed at removing suffering and enhancing one's capacity to handle life’s demands. The practices emphasize function over form and are designed to empower clients to regulate their nervous systems, which influence various bodily systems. I use simple language and concepts familiar to my clients, avoiding specific terms from the Yoga Sutras unless they resonate with the individual. This allows clients to connect with their inner selves and find their own meaning, whether through nature, a higher power, or personal interests.

Host: That’s a beautiful approach. How do you stay up to date with new research and developments in yoga therapy?

SatPreet: I stay updated through the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT), which offers resources and platforms for sharing the latest research and clinical trials. We also engage in continuous education and collaborate with other yoga therapists. This helps us incorporate new findings and best practices into our work.

Host: Have you encountered any challenges along your journey?

SatPreet: Yes, one challenge is managing client expectations. Some clients expect yoga therapy to be a quick fix, like a magic pill. It’s important to convey that it’s a gradual process requiring dedication and consistency. Another challenge is helping clients prioritize self-care amidst their busy lives, especially women experiencing burnout. It's about changing their perspective to see self-care as essential for sustainable well-being.

Host: That’s very insightful. Have you witnessed any impactful transformations in your clients?

SatPreet: While specific client details are confidential, I’ve seen significant success with chronic pain and hypothyroid conditions. Clients report improved awareness, reduced pain, and better energy levels. The real yoga happens off the mat—it's about integrating practices into daily life, which leads to lasting change.

Host: That’s inspiring. Do you see clients oscillating in their commitment to yoga therapy?

SatPreet: Yes, it depends on the individual. Some stick to routines diligently, while others, especially those dealing with depression, need more support. We offer small functional groups for mutual support and design practices that fit into their daily lives. It’s about taking baby steps and finding what works for each person.

Host: That’s wonderful. Lastly, what are the ethical considerations in designing yoga therapy programs?

SatPreet: We adhere to the ethical guidelines set by the IAYT, ensuring confidentiality, informed consent, and professional boundaries. It’s crucial to respect each client’s unique journey and provide a safe, supportive environment for their healing process.

Host: Thank you, SatPreet, for sharing your journey and insights with us. It's been an enlightening conversation.

SatPreet: Thank you, Gauri. It’s been a pleasure sharing my experiences.


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