Meet The Singing Dragon Author: Karla Helbert

As part of our Meet The Singing Dragon Author series, we speak to authors to discuss their motivation for entering their respective industries, inspiration for writing their books, what challenges they faced and who they would recommend their books to. Is there a specific Singing Dragon author you would like to hear from? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation using #MeetTheSDAuthor.

Karla Helbert, author of The Chakras in Grief and Trauma: A Tantric Guide to Energetic Wholeness

How did you become interested in yoga therapy and aromatherapy?
I became interested in aromatherapy in the early 90’s and have studied it ever since. I have long been drawn to essential oils for therapeutic, emotional and spiritual uses. I began taking yoga classes around 1999 and after a year, decided to take a teacher training and it was life changing. It brought together all the aspects of spiritual life that I had been seeking for years, one which addresses humans as whole beings—physically, emotionally, energetically, spiritually. As a psychotherapist, I was able to bring the principles and teachings of yoga into my practice with clients and can see the effectiveness not only of asana (poses), meditation and breathwork, but also how the philosophy and ethical underpinnings of yoga support and create change. The essential teaching of yoga is wholeness and that our true nature is and has always been whole, that we can be not other way. Life, pain, grief, heartbreak, challenges, cause us to forget our essential wholeness, but all the teachings and branches of yoga remind us of this truth.

How did you begin your career and were there any challenges in entering this field?
Initially, I was working in a retail setting, trying to finish my undergraduate degree in English literature, and needed extra money so I started working part time as a direct care worker in a school for children with autism and other developmental disabilities, but who were also dealing with severe emotional and behavioral difficulties. I happen to be one of those people who naturally good at that kind of work, which I never would have known. I decided to become a psychotherapist because of my work with those kids, teens and adults as well. As I grew into my own as a therapist, I began adding adjunct, alternative therapies to my work—yoga, aromatherapy, energy work. I also became a certified yoga therapist as well as a yoga teacher. The challenge I have faced in the field of psychotherapy and counseling, is that theories on energetics and the subtle body are not generally taught to students, and due to the Western medical model, are often dismissed. It is very difficult to help people without seeing the whole person. We are more than our mental bodies—we are physical, emotional, energetic, and spiritual beings. When my own son died in 2006, my entire life was altered, to say the least. All the things I am trained in also eventually became my own supports—yoga, aromatherapy, meditation. Over time, I was able to integrate these into a specialty in traumatic grief. That was not a path I sought but one I found myself on. I realized that I am in a position to be able to support others on the same road and feel that this is also a way of making meaning and remaining connected to my child. This kind of work cannot be done without addressing the whole person—body, mind, emotions, energy, spirit.

What did you enjoy about writing the book?
This book grew from the Tantra yoga chapter of my book Yoga for Grief & Loss, also published by Singing Dragon, but the amount of information I wanted to share could never have fit into one chapter, so this book was born during the writing of the other. The process of engaging with the complexity of the chakras, and writing about them in this way, was an extraordinary experience—which I hope translates to an extraordinary experience for the reader! There is not a lot of information out there on this particular topic available for research, so I had to learn from my own experiences and in-depth exploration of the chakras. It often felt often as though the information was being revealed to me. The experiential aspect of diving into the depths of each of these energy centers, was profound. The writing of each chapter was an exploratory expedition into each one of the chakras. I was able to achieve a functional trance-like state even as I wrote meditations and prompts, imagining and seeing the energetic layers of each of the exercises and how they support the reader through an individual journey through the subtle energy of your own system. It was pretty cool.

To whom would you recommend the book?
This book is for any reader interested in alternative methods of finding support and a path for moving toward wholeness even in the midst of grief and trauma. I think readers will find the information novel, but also very familiar, because they will have experienced much of what the book shares on energetic, emotional, physical and spiritual levels. The book is for anyone with an interest in alternative, gentle, non-invasive and non-harming ways of dealing with trauma, pain, heartbreak, grief and loss. It is also beneficial for counselors and therapists, yoga teachers, yoga therapists, and energy practitioners including practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, herbalism, aromatherapy, acupressure and body work—anyone who works with grieving and traumatized people.


The Chakras in Grief and Trauma
A Tantric Guide to Energetic Wholeness

Karla Helbert

This innovative guide to the chakras explains how grief and trauma impacts on every level of our being, and provides the tools to help clients experiencing trauma and grief by influencing, balancing and nurturing the chakra system. The book provides thorough and clear explorations of each chakra, their connections to each other, and tantric ways of working with energy. It features over 100 expressive and experiential exercises.

Click here to buy the book.


Is there a specific Singing Dragon author you would like to hear from? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation using #MeetTheSDAuthorOr join our mailing list to be the first to hear about our newest releases.

 

Meet the Singing Dragon Author: Nicola Harvey

As part of our Meet The Singing Dragon Author series, we speak to authors to discuss their motivation for entering their respective industries, inspiration for writing their books, what challenges they faced and who they would recommend their books to. Is there a specific Singing Dragon author you would like to hear from? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation using #MeetTheSDAuthor.

Nicola Harvey, author of Mindful Little Yogis

How did you become interested in mindfulness for children? Were there any challenges in breaking into this field?
During my time as a special needs class teacher I was surprised at the social pressures and academic demands placed on children from as young as 4 years old to conform. I saw first-hand how this triggered anxieties and other mental states in children. With less public funding in place, many children have reduced access to the much-needed support they require in schools and communities so I decided to undertake additional training to integrate mindfulness, emotional resilience and coping strategies into my classroom routines. Over time, this helped my students gain better access to the curriculum, learn how to communicate their feelings, develop self-regulation tools and achieve mental clarity.
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Meet The Singing Dragon Author: Dr. Steffany Moonaz

As part of our Meet The Singing Dragon Author series, we speak to authors to discuss their motivation for entering their respective industries, inspiration for writing their books, what challenges they faced and who they would recommend their books to. Is there a specific Singing Dragon author you would like to hear from? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation using #MeetTheSDAuthor.

Dr. Steffany Moonaz, author of Yoga Therapy for Arthritis

How did you become interested in yoga therapy? Were there any challenges you faced in entering this industry?
I started working as a yoga therapist before I knew what yoga therapy was. After my 200-hour training, I was hired by Johns Hopkins University to help develop a yoga program for people with arthritis. My training was essentially safe, but largely inadequate to meet their needs, so we learned from each other. I brought the fullness of my yoga training and they brought the fullness of their arthritis, and together we figured out what worked, what was most helpful, what needed further adaptation. Since then, with additional training as both a yoga therapist and a scientist focusing exclusively on this population, I’ve come a long way. I’m proud to say that since learning about yoga therapy, I’ve been actively involved in the professionalization of the field and its representation in the broader movement of integrative health. There was so little work being done specifically in arthritis when I got my start, despite how prevalent it is. I was basically handed my dharma and have been following it ever since.

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Yoga poses to help prepare the body for sleep

Yoga therapy offers a truly holistic approach to solving the growing problem of insomnia. In her new book, Yoga Therapy for Insomnia & Sleep Recovery, expert yoga therapist Lisa Sanfilippo explains how yoga practices can be used to target the underlying issues that inhibit good quality sleep, with immediate results that build over time.

Honouring a natural yogic and Ayurvedic approach, and infusing it with modern neuroscience, Lisa addresses the deeper emotional reasons for not sleeping well and looks at how lifestyle changes can help to achieve better quality rest. With the body-mind connection at its core, this book shows how to support better health holistically to restore balance in each layer of the body.

In the below video, Lisa demonstrates her favourite yoga poses from a sleep sequence to help you relax and prepare your body for sleep.

 

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Implications for Pain Guesses to Yoga Therapy

In this extract from Matthew J. Taylor’s latest book, Yoga Therapy as a Creative Response to Pain, Taylor discusses how yoga therapy can be used to decrease pain and the perception of pain. 

How does one teach from the wisdom of pain? And how could yoga therapy be a creative response? My hope is you are starting to see some answers emerge. (Pun intentional and literal.) In this section I will offer some direct implications to make some of this what they used to call “lieutenant-proof” in the army when I was a lieutenant. (Do note later, though, Nora’s caution around giving “direct” instructions.)

We “know,” taken together, the above findings are important because they demonstrate that the neural mechanisms involved in mindfulness- based pain relief are consistent with greater processing of sensory experience and at the same time decreases in pain appraisal (Zeidan et al. 2015). Our familiar practices of paying attention inward and editing narratives. Pain reduction may also occur by fine-tuning the amplification of nociceptive sensory events through top-down control processes of inhibition of incoming nociceptive information and that such pain relief does not reduce pain through one avenue, but rather multiple, unique neural mechanisms. Ah, CDSR. Zeidan and Vago (2016) also cite evidence that mindfulness meditation engages mechanisms that are distinct from placebo to reduce pain and that this could be of critical importance to the millions of chronic pain sufferers seeking a fast-acting non-opioid pain therapy. See the marketing section coming up next for how to use this information. There is a decoupling between “sensory and appraisal-related brain regions,” and similarly, between “sensory and affective pain” to increase coping with the pain that does improve. An alleviation of suffering even if pain is unchanged in intensity? This is the frequently reported decrease in the unpleasantness dimension of pain with respect to pain intensity (Zeidan et al. 2015) plus what we already discussed about yoga also altering the meaning, interpretation, and appraisal of nociceptive information, all of which could be important tools for producing more stable and long-lasting improvements in chronic pain symptoms. Wow! How do we do that?

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Yoga for Dementia – A Q&A with Author Tania Plahay

yoga dementia Following the recent release of Yoga for Dementia, we asked author Tania Plahay a few questions about her work as a yoga teacher for people with dementia. Her book is based on the findings of a pilot therapeutic programme Tania ran for people with dementia in care homes.

 

What led you to become a yoga teacher and how did you become interested in running yoga sessions for older people in care?

Throughout my life I have benefited from the simple practices of yoga, for example, it helped me deal with the death of my father when I was 21 and many other of life’s ups and downs. After practicing for over 10 years I decided to train to be a yoga teacher as I was keen to share these simple techniques with others.

For a while before my father passed away he had lived in a care home. I remember visiting him there and seeing the residents just sitting in their chairs, not really doing anything, or engaging with others. This made me feel very sad and inspired me to work with older people in care.

 

What are the benefits of yoga for people living with dementia?

Dementia is not one condition but rather a collection of symptoms associated with the loss of memory and other thinking skills and will affect people differently. However dementia does have some common symptoms which yoga can help with. I’ve outlined a few of these below:

  • Cognitive decline. Yoga and meditation exercises have been shown to be better than some standard memory exercises in improving mental functioning. For example, meditation can result in improvements in brain grey matter that is involved in learning and memory, regulating emotions, sense of self, and having perspective.
  • Living with dementia can bring with it stress and anxiety. Yogic breathing exercises can help deal with these feelings, by activating the parasympathetic nervous system and the “relaxation response”.
  • It is estimated that up to 40% of people living with Alzheimer’s Disease also have depression, and yoga has been shown to help manage the symptoms of depression.
  • Dementia often results in people loosing a sense of their location in space – known as spatial awareness. Yoga exercises can help improve both spatial awareness, and also our proprioception, which is our sense of the relative position of one’s own body parts and strength of effort being employed in movement.
  • Loneliness and a lack of social relationships has been linked to risk of dementia. Group yoga classes can provide a safe non-judgmental space for people to do activities together and can therefore help form social bonds.
  • Yoga is a holistic practice, in that it helps with the mind, body and emotional life. Many people living with dementia may have other health issues, and therefore practicing yoga can be beneficial on many levels.

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Teaching the Philosophy of Yoga to Students: Practical Tips

Graham Burns, a contributor of Yoga Teaching Handbook, offers practical advice when introducing traditional and philosophical ideas of yoga when teaching students in these simple tips.

by Graham Burns

So, having decided which aspects of philosophy you would like to bring into your teaching, how do you approach that task in a way which will be accessible to your students? Here are a few practical ideas.

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The Presence of Peace: Breathing Calmly Amidst Holiday Stress

Julie Dunlop, author of Ocean of Yoga: Meditations on Yoga and Ayurveda for Balance, Awareness, and Well-Being shares tips on breathing calmly amidst holiday stress.

Are you one of those people who tries to “get through” the holidays? What would it take for you to shift to “moving through” the holidays or “experiencing” the holidays rather than just trying to get through them? Although the difference in this wording is somewhat subtle, it can be significant as we shift from survival mode into a more holistic acceptance of the process of being present—mind, body, and soul—for the holidays.The glow of Christmas trees, menorahs, and Diwali candles, along with many other images and traditions from richly diverse cultures, light our way through the holidays each year. Along with the beauty of holiday decorations and celebrations, however, often comes a fair amount of stress. This could be financial stress or the stress of physical exhaustion from simply trying to keep up with all of the extra events. It could also be emotional stress due to an injury or illness, challenging family dynamics, or grief from the loss of a loved one. Pause for a moment and check in: On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your current stress level? Breathe. Look around you. Then, look within. Is there any crisis taking place in the current moment, or is the stress generating from within? Feel the soft rhythm of your inhale and exhale washing through you with grace.

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