Yoga In Private Practice: Powerful Healing & Trending Treatment

Hello again, GetTherapy.com community! We’re excited to present you with another video interview in our series of highlighting specialties and new methods of care. Our topic of discussion here is yoga therapy. I sat down with Rachel Allen, a Psychological Examiner and Arkansas Families First and Stacy Reynolds, a yoga therapist, and owner of Blue Nyla Yoga in North Little Rock, to introduce a very popular program at Arkansas Families First- Yoga Bliss. In addition, we collaborated with Dr. Samantha Short from Therapy and Assessment Center (TAC) in Conway to learn about her awesome yoga program. Read on!

Let's begin with a bit of background on yoga therapy. It is defined as an adaptation of yoga practices for people in the use of a healthcare setting, specifically mental health for our context. It helps promote all-around health, as well as assisting mental health therapy. Research shows that yoga is a very effective form of physical activity for this type of program. Yoga therapy programs typically focus on learning new ways to confront issues one is facing in life, and have confidence in those decisions. 

At Arkansas Families First, the yoga therapy program is focused on kids with anxiety to help them learn coping skills and life skills. They have two groups for clients ranging in age from 8-12 and 13-17. The program also sees kids with ADHD, Autism, and kids with other struggles in life. Stacy, a yoga therapist, mentioned that it takes years to train up to this level. There is much-specialized training on not only yoga but also how it relates to stress and anxiety.  Yoga therapy is different than regular yoga classes because it adds in a mental health element. Participants learn how yoga can get them through stressful situations and gives them an avenue to direct their frustrations. 

Stacy and Rachel have both seen incredible responses in the kids who have attended classes. Rachel said that at the beginning of the program, they were very nervous and mostly kept to themselves. But, they have seen invaluable growth as kids open up and grow to love the yoga program. They enjoy seeing older participants guide the younger ones and teach them about yoga. Rachel mentioned she had seen her own daughter’s anxiety transform into openness and growth. Stacy loves to see participants become more comfortable with who they are.

During the class, students do traditional yoga but in a more kid-friendly way. It’s often framed as a story and kids stretch themselves into complex yoga moves while embarked on a 45-minute adventure. They learn breathing, posture, meditation, and yoga forms. Stacy said that seeing an energetic child harness their energy into yoga poses is a refreshing sight, along with conquering new skills they had been working on. Something very unique about the program Stacy mentions is that oftentimes kids have not found a favorite sport or hobby, and yoga becomes front and center.  

The success of Yoga Bliss in North Little Rock is paralleled by a program started by Dr. Samantha Short, a Licensed Psychologist. She started her private practice, Therapy & Assessment Center in 2015. In 2017, Dr. Short and her sister Michelle Baker, who is an ACE-Certified Fitness Instructor and TAC’s office manager, decided to start their own personal self-care journey. Their goal was to actively work on our body, soul, and mind. Both started doing the low-intensity walking and healthy eating on our lunch breaks at work. Dr. Short says they started trying new activities which included yoga, and from their, they found a new passion. Thus, over the next year, they began dreaming and planning on ways they could combine mental health counseling with yoga and fitness. They began actively looking for a building with the space to hold fitness and yoga classes. Dr. Short says this about their program:

“We found a building, started hiring, and here we are! Therapy and Assessment Center is a faith-based counseling facility that now offers fitness and yoga to our clients. Our yoga instructor Michelle Drusky-Visconti has a Master’s degree in psychology. She is E-RYT 200, YACEP, Balance Barre Certified, and Yoga Shred Trained. She does an amazing job combing mental health and yoga. She does adult and child yoga classes. Each of the yoga classes focuses on different mental health issues such as Anxiety, ADHD, and School/Work Stress. Clients of all ages are loving the program. The feedback has been amazing! The children do not even want to leave the room when it is over. The children are facing a lot of difficult challenges in the school environment and restorative yoga seems to be exactly what they need. I have several pre-teen clients benefiting a lot from the anxiety and yoga combined classes. The yoga instructor works with the children on how to breathe properly and release/move anxiety out of the body. She is so creative. One of the kids told me about her teaching them to be warriors and how they shot imaginary arrows at their anxiety. She found the exercise very therapeutic. The adult class is mostly a basic level flow and restorative yoga. The goal is to provide a safe place for clients to learn that yoga is for everybody. It has been a great way to meet friends and connect women to one another in Conway. It also has been great for clients to get some exposure therapy by overcoming their social anxiety and fears about attending the gym. The yoga is held on-site at TAC. TAC also offers massage therapy and are in the process of having a weightlifting class, fitness classes, and a nutrition program. We have an amazing sensory based playroom for kids. We believe it is important to invest in the body, soul, and mind. Yoga really helps clients and staff with stress relief, mindfulness, and self-care. We believe yoga is an amazing therapy tool. I wish the world could see the faces of these clients after a yoga class. It is a powerful thing to be apart of at TAC!”

Thanks to all of these wonderful clinicians for sharing their yoga therapy programs with us! We are so excited about the new techniques they are implementing and the ways people are able to grow from them. Thanks for all you do!

If you’re interested in joining Arkansas Families First’s Yoga Bliss program, you can read about it here. Click here for more information about Yoga at Therapy and Assessment Center. 

If you’re a private practice clinician offering unique treatment approach you’d like us to write about, or if you are interested in implementing a program similar to these at your practice, email us at admin@gettherapy.com and do what we can to help out! Thanks for reading and as always, staying in-the-know with GetTherapy.com.

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