How We Work - Healing Through Yoga

What People are Saying

Yoga is a holistic, healing discipline that offers a broad range of tools for supporting health, healing and personal transformation. Yoga's tools include postures, conscious breathing techniques, meditative practices, gestures, the use of vocal sounds, guided self-inquiry, and much more. These tools can be utilized in an infinite number of combinations to suit the unique needs of the individual throughout the ever-changing stages of his/her life.

As a holistic form of healing, Yoga views the human system as not just the physical body, but as comprised of several dimensions, including the physical body, breath, mind, personality and emotions. These dimensions of the human system are interconnected and therefore, interdependent. For example, when a person becomes angry (emotional), breathing becomes short and shallow (breath), the face turns red and the hands tremble (physical), attitude becomes negative (mental), and communication becomes aggressive (personality), etc.

For this reason, Yoga teaches that just because an illness manifests at the physical level does not necessarily mean that its cause is also in the physical level. The cause of the physical problem may, in fact, be rooted in problems related to another dimension of the student's system. By the same token, any practice a Yoga teacher or therapist offers has the potential to impact every dimension of the student's system. For example, a meditative practice may influence not only our mind and emotions, but our physical body, as well. A breathing practice may influence mind and personality, and so on.

HYF offers private instruction (also known as Yoga Therapy) and specialized group classes, in keeping with our focus on personalized Yoga for specific health and wellness needs. Yoga Therapy is offered on a one-to-one basis for purposes ranging from general fitness and wellbeing, to addressing specific health concerns. In each case, the teacher adapts the tools of Yoga to meet the needs and goals of the individual.

Personalized One-on-One Instruction
All Yoga taught by HYF is adapted to meet the specific needs of the individual. We take time in a one-on-one setting to understand each client's current needs and goals and then design a program just for them.

The one- on- one study process
•  Student fills out an intake form detailing their health history "and current situation, complaints, goals, etc."
•  Yoga teacher talks with the individual regarding that history, as well as asking questions about their living situation, current lifestyle, diet, activities.
•  The Yoga teacher asks the student to do simple movements so that s/he can observe what is happening with the student on the physical level. During this process we will often talk with the student about aggravating and relieving factors involved in their problem.
•  The Yoga teacher will instruct each student individually so that s/he can develop a relationship with each of their students, and the personal element or relationship aspect of our approach is important. Once the teacher understands the individual's issue(s) and circumstances, s/he will develop a home Yoga program that emphasizes three things: conscious breathing, gentle physical movements, and individualized purposeful sequencing of those movements in coordination with the breath.
•  Each course is carefully constructed to stay well within the physical limits of that person.
•  Then the Yoga teacher instructs this personalized program to the student, revising it according to the student's response.
•  The student is strongly encouraged to practice this course at home on his or her own schedule. In fact, the practicing of their individualized yoga program at home is critical to the successful process of healing through yoga since by practicing on their own, the student becomes an active participant in their own healing process and is thus able to take responsibility for their own healing at some level. After the student has practiced the yoga program at home for some time (lengths vary for different people and situations, etc.) the student has follow-up sessions with the Yoga teacher on a regular basis (as determined by the needs and situation of that individual). Along the way, the home yoga program will be revised according to the changing needs of the student. As the individual's condition improves, their personalized home Yoga program will also evolve to reflect their changing needs and abilities. Of course, the student is always encouraged to check in with the Yoga teacher if they have any questions or concerns.

The initial consultation and class typical lasts 90 minutes, but follow up sessions are usually shorter, approximately 45 minutes in length.

Empowering the Individual
An important result of the client's commitment to their personal practice is that s/he becomes an active participant in the healing process. The teacher's role is primarily one of understanding the student's needs, designing and teaching the student appropriate practices that are both healing and motivating, and reviewing the practices as the student's needs and goals change. It is up to the student to do the practice, however, for it to have any effect. Healing thus comes from within the student, rather than from an outside source. This is one of the most powerful aspects of Yoga as taught by HYF. We believe that when the student is engaged in their own healing process instead of being a passive recipient of treatment, there is even greater potential for healing to happen and for the student to retain the benefits and the good habits learned for the long-term.

Highly Trained Staff
All HYF teachers have undergone rigorous training to utilize all the tools of Yoga competently, effectively, and in the appropriate manner. Teachers are specifically trained and tested in the holistic model of Yoga, including observation skills, modification, appropriate sequencing of postures and therapeutic application. In addition to internships, our training emphasizes the importance of personal practice and an ongoing relationship with a mentor. Currently, we know of no other Yoga teacher or therapist training programs in the US that offer this kind of in-depth training and professional support.

What People are Saying

  • I have a deep appreciation for the many benefits I am enjoying today as a direct result of the care and program I received from Kate Holcombe and staff of The Healing Yoga Foundation. Because of a number of surgeries, for many years I had soreness that prevented me from sleeping on my left side; because of adhesions from the same surgeries, I had poor digestion and related uncomfortable symptoms. Additionally, because of unsettling experiences with body workers, I had a stiff, uncoordinated, and fear-based way of working with my body.

    A trusted friend and master integral coach recommended I see Kate Holcombe.

    From the start, the entire staff was attentive, kind, knowledgeable, and helpful. Kate’s assessment process was thorough, kind, professional, and educational. Her individualized program (with "stick figures") was on target, comprehensive without being overwhelming. Her one-on-one sessions taught me how to breathe, how to connect directly with my body, and correct movement. Kate’s spiritual presence encouraged me to do my practices at home. Each subsequent session deepened my appreciation for my body, for yoga, for the power of healing.

    Today I am pain free, have excellent digestion, and sleeping well on both sides, spiritually more attuned to my somatic intelligence. I am committed to a life-long practice of yoga and good health practices.

    Diane Woods, March 4th, 2009

  • I came to Healing Yoga Foundation because I was experiencing chronic pain in my upper back, neck and losing feeling in my fingertips. I had been to my doctor, done physical therapy for a year and did not see any improvement. Fortunately, my doctor felt that exercise would be helpful and he saw no issue with me seeking alternative approaches.

    Let me tell you a little about myself though, when I came to HYF I was 50 years old, had been practicing yoga for about 7 years and have a high pressure management job at a Fortune 500 company. I have to admit to be a little bit skeptical, but at least willing to try something different. Yoga therapy was outside of my experience of yoga in a studio. But I made my appointment with Kate and dove in.

    It was a surprise to me to meet Kate, I don't know what I expected, but what I found was a caring, serious and down-to-earth individual. She listened to me in a way no health care professional has ever done and treated me with tremendous respect for my challenges. She had me move a bit and then created a practice for me to try at home. I couldn't conceive of how this extremely gentle and short practice would have an impact, but it was easy enough to try on for a week or so. After doing a vigorous yoga practice for 7 years, this felt too simple. But, I will tell you, without qualifications, that within that period of time I reduced my pain by about 70%. After 6 months, I was virtually pain free and now, two years later, I still have my underlying condition and occasional bad days, but I know how to adjust my personal current (and more vigorous) practice to get relief.

    This intrigued me so much that I've since joined the teacher training practice in order to better understand just how this worked. This is a rich and complex healing modality and has helped not only with managing my chronic pain issue, but in many other aspects of my life as well. Anyone interested in exploring the healing effects of yoga, be it physical or otherwise, will absolutely find something valuable here.

    I recommend, unqualified, HYF and their therapists.

    Susan Snow, July 13th, 2009
  • "I attended your Intro to the Yoga Sutras session at the Yoga Conference in San Francisco. I really enjoyed your 2-hour session. You made everything make sense and presented it in a way that was totally understandable and accessible - thank you. I would like to pursue more studies of the sutras."
  • Compass Community services Positive Parenthood Project:

    Client M came to the 'Stress Management' group in early 2008. At the time he was residing in a drug treatment program with his wife and newborn daughter. He had spent many years of his life living on the streets and abusing narcotics. Once he found out he had a child on the way, he was determined to turn his life around. He entered treatment with his wife who delivered a healthy and happy baby girl. M was faced with many life stressors, being a first time parent, being newly sober, trying to figure out how to support his family with a substance abuse history, a permanent disability (he had lost an eye long ago), and a criminal record.

    M took to the techniques offered in the class like a duck to water. He attended every session he could and was able to incorporate yoga practices into his every day life. Now, nearly a year after he began the class M is working a full time job and is about to move his family into a clean and safe apartment. He attributes a lot of his success to his participation in this class. He states that the class helped give him the calm and sense of peace he needed to tackle providing a good life for his baby girl.
  • HYF / Commonweal Cancer Support Retreat Day:

    "The program was like a dose of caring Commonweal in my own backyard... The opportunity to connect with others living with cancer was invaluable." -LH

    "Thank you for lovely, thoughtful program. The kindness, care, and pace were wonderful and nourishing. The leaders created a safe, relaxed, welcoming space immediately. Sensitive & respectful program." -PM

    "I came feeling distracted and scared, I left feeling affirmed, full, quiet, and connected to others." -JP

    "The staff dealt with the issues surrounding cancer in a sensitive and affirming way." -SH

    "The program helped me create positive intentions." -RW

    "Thank you for a wonderful, informative, and healing day." -GW