The forward-thinking Heather Mason and her team at The Minded Institute are making more progressive steps in their field by pioneering the world’s first training course which explores the holistic application of  yoga therapy and mindfulness philosophy, practices and sequences with clients suffering from any psychotic disorder, psychotic symptoms and/or experiencing psychotic stress.   Since at the moment, schizophrenia is the only condition that yoga therapy is recommended for the NICE (The National Institute for Clinical Excellence) guidelines, it is an important step to begin evidence-based training in this field so doctors and mental health teams will have confidence in who to refer patients to.

This Autumn, a four-day professional workshop running from 26th-29th October in London will see Anneke Sips, qualified community psychiatric nurse and yoga therapist, look at a number of themes including the development and expression of psychotic disorders and common misconceptions around psychosis, in order to allow therapists and yoga teachers to build a new kind of working relationship with a clients, based on her years of experience.

Anneke has extensive experience working with people suffering from complex psychiatric disorders and specialises in trauma and psychoses-related issues. She is a dedicated yoga therapist, practitioner and student in the lineage of Krishnamacharya, having been taught by Dr. G Mohan from Chennai, India. She offers yoga therapy, individualised one-to-one yoga sessions, as well as group yoga classes, private or public. She is a bridge builder in the field of yoga and mental health in The Netherlands and the facilitator of the first yoga therapy conference and the Svastha Yoga Therapy programme.

The benefits of yoga therapy for mental health conditions continues to be one of the most prolific areas.  For the last 20-30 years this has mostly focused on depression and or anxiety.  Recently, however, yoga therapy is entering the foray of more acute mental health issues like schizophrenia and demonstrating wonderful and even unprecedented benefit.  One of Minded’s favorite investigated yoga’s ability to increase oxytocin (the cuddle hormone) in those with schizophrenia. Gangadhar and colleagues found yoga actually increased levels by a whopping 300 percent!

This is significant because schizophrenia is associated with some of the lowest oxytocin levels in any mental health condition, correlated with the classic symptoms of reduced affect and poor ability to engage in meaningful social relationships.  Ganghadar argues that yoga therapy could exert its beneficial effect on improving social cognition deficits in schizophrenia by increasing endogenous oxytocin levels, which in turn could modulate the neural circuits involved in emotion processing, thus improving social cognition overall in patients.   Many of us without schizophrenia could also benefit from these effects.

Another important benefit of yoga therapy is this. Medications often prescribed for psychosis can have secondary effects that negatively impact the patient’s health such as hypertension and obesity, creating more problems for the individual.  Yoga is known to reduce obesity and risk for cardiovascular disease, so it can be an important practice in reducing the side effects of meds and keeping people who are medicated due to schizophrenia, healthy.

This ground breaking course available to yoga teachers, therapists, and all health professionals provides a unique understanding of psychosis from a neurological, psychological, and spiritual perspective.  You will learn and develop yogic skills and related confidence in working with individuals assessing who were/are suffering from psychosis.

You will learn about the benefits and any contraindications of practices specific to those with psychosis, be taught how to offer Yoga Therapy within the appropriate safety guidelines for this work, learn how to function effectively together with other health care professionals to deliver this work, as well as integrate their skills and yoga into their existing teaching or therapy practice.

A main objective of The Minded Institute’s research is to see yoga offered globally in mainstream healthcare and events like the Yoga with Psychosis course this Autumn, combined with an increasing body of corroborative research into yoga’s medical benefits, allow us to get a step closer to this ultimate goal.

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