Nourish Your Nervous System with Kathleen Pratt

    If you’ve felt more stressed in recent years, you’re not alone! Our nervous system controls our response to stress.

    It’s designed to protect us in times of danger, but for many people it is stuck in a state of high alert or shut down. This can result in symptoms of overwhelm, anxiety, disturbed sleep or appetite, overreactivity and more. 

    The Gallup 2023 Global Emotions Report found that negative experiences (worry, stress, sadness, physical pain, and anger) remained at the record high set in 2022. Compounded stress, loss, and uncertainty have lasting effects on physical and mental health as well as relationships and quality of life. 

    Fortunately, you can learn how to protect yourself from the negative effects of stress by recognizing signals from your nervous system and responding to them as valuable messengers. Then, you can apply strategies to help you relax or energize, depending on your needs. 

    Read my article "The secret to managing stress well"

    This online program combines the ancient wisdom practices of yoga and mindfulness with current research. 

    You will learn about your nervous system, in addition to gentle movement, breathing, and mindfulness exercises to reduce stress. These simple and effective techniques can be used to restore balance and promote recovery in the body and mind. 

    You will experience a variety of mind-body practices to enhance well-being that can be applied immediately to your own life and shared with others.  No yoga experience is required. A trauma-sensitive approach offers participants choices about how they practice, honouring their pace and comfort level.

    Topics covered in the six sessions:

    • Help your survival brain feel safe
    • Widen your window of tolerance
    • Stimulate your vagus nerve naturally
    • Awaken presence with your senses
    • Restore yourself with nature
    • Apply the healing balm of self-compassion

    Each 90-minute recorded session includes information and a practice of at least 60 minutes.Resources for further exploration of each topic are provided.

    Please join me for this transformative series, in collaboration with Pelvic Health Professionals and The Connected Yoga Teacher, Shannon Crow

    Purchase access to the recordings at the registration link below. 

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    Virtual or in-person private yoga sessions focus on enhancing function of pelvic muscles through breath, movement and mindful awareness. A private yoga session can address pelvic health concerns as well as optimize functioning to prevent future issues. I specialize in helping people with symptoms of pelvic pain and tension learn ways to calm the nervous system and relax tense muscles to break the pain-tension-anxiety cycle. 

    • Yoga mobilizes and balances the muscles in the pelvis
    • Yoga uses breath to cultivate awareness and coordination in the pelvic muscles
    • Yoga postures promote circulation and flexibility of the muscles and connective tissues 
    • Yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system, relieving symptoms that are caused by stress or pain

    Pelvic health concerns that can be addressed with yoga: 

    • Pelvic girdle pain (e.g. low back pain, hip pain, SI joint pain, endometriosis, menstrual pain)
    • Perineal pain (e.g. vulvodynia, pudendal neuralgia, coccydynia)
    • Painful bladder (interstitial cystitis)
    • Pain with intercourse
    • Pain with menstruation
    • Urinary incontinence (leakage, frequency, and/or urgency) 
    • Chronic constipation
    • Pelvic organ prolapse
    • Diastasis recti (abdominal separation)

    Prior assessment by a pelvic health physiotherapist (particularly if there are any of the concerns identified above) is helpful, but not always required. Intake will include a self-assessment of pelvic health which will flag issues for follow up by a health care provider. Yoga can be especially helpful with maintenance after pelvic health physiotherapy treatment is completed. No yoga experience is necessary. A private yoga session includes breathing exercises, simple yoga movements for body and pelvic muscle awareness, and education. Privacy and discretion are assured.

    Some personal stories:

    "A few years ago, I received pelvic floor physiotherapy for stress incontinence. I have faithfully done the prescribed exercises every day and this did help my symptoms. I just finished Yoga for Pelvic Wellness sessions which reinforced, complemented and augmented what I learned from physiotherapy. I have found that my stress incontinence has much improved by adding these tools to what I learned from physiotherapy. For example, I can now wear a smaller pad. Yoga for Pelvic Wellness taught me far more than I ever learned in my studies and my profession as a registered nurse". 

    "I suffered from painful intercourse and stress incontinence for years before I learned about pelvic floor physiotherapy. When I finally saw a physiotherapist, it was such a relief to find out that the problem was too much tension in my pelvic floor and not in my head. Yoga helps me relax and stretch my pelvic muscles. The incontinence has improved and I can enjoy sex again." 

    To learn more about the role of the pelvic muscles in wellness, please read my article with references

    Contact me to book your no obligation, no charge 15-minute consultation by phone or Zoom! 

    Private Sessions Services and Fees Menu

    Registration Form for Yoga for Pelvic Wellness

    My YouTube videos:

    Pelvic Symmetry Sequence

    You Do Know Squat! (squat modifications)

    Pelvic Pain Relief with Yoga

    Toilet Tips for a Happy Pelvic Floor

    To Kegel or Not to Kegel: That is the Question

    Help for Urinary Urgency & Frequency

    Bedtime (or Anytime!) Pelvic Tension Release

    Links to more information:

    Urinary Incontinence:

    Yoga and Pilates compared to pelvic floor muscle training for urinary incontinence in elderly women: A randomised controlled pilot trial (2021) 

    New Guidelines Recommend Conservative Care for Urinary Incontinence (my article about the April 2020 SOGC Guidelines)

    Yoga as Treatment for Urinary Incontinence (Herman & Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute)

    A Group-Based Yoga Therapy Intervention for Urinary Incontinence in Women: A Pilot Randomized Trial (2015)

    Yoga for Pelvic Floor Disorders - New Studies Suggest Yoga Can Help Prevent Incontinence

    Pelvic Pain:

    How a Trauma-Sensitive Approach Can Help People with Pelvic Pain

    What can happen when a nervous system gets too sensitive? (My article about central sensitization)

    Pelvic floor muscle tenderness on digital palpation among women: convergent validity with central sensitization  This 2021 study showed that tenderness in pelvic floor muscles is related to a sensitive nervous system. This is important because it means that strictly focusing on manual therapy to 'correct' or 'release' pelvic floor tension is missing the underlying cause, be it trauma, anxiety, shame or other psychological factors that put the nervous system in a protective mode. 

    Recent Study Shows Yoga Effective in Reducing Menstrual Pain (Dysmenorrhea)

    The effectiveness of self-care and lifestyle interventions in primary dysmenorrhea: a systematic review and meta-analysis (2019)

    The Practice of Hatha Yoga for the Treatment of Pain Associated with Endometriosis (2017)

    How Yoga Can Help Heal Pelvic Pain (2019 Pelvic Health Summit)

    Study: Lower Back Pain & Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (2018)

    Study: Effects of Yogic Intervention on Pain Scores and Quality of Life in Females with Chronic Pelvic Pain (2017)

    Interview with Carolyn Vandyken, Physiotherapist about the Biospsychosocial Framework and Persistent Pain

    Self-management strategies to consider to combat endometriosis symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic

    5 Simple Yoga Moves for Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain Relief

    General Pelvic Health Resources:

    Link to my YouTube playlist: Resources for Pelvic Health

    Interview with Carolyn Vandyken, Physiotherapist and Founder of Pelvic Health Solutions

    Resources for Creating Pelvic Floor Health through Yoga compiled by Shelly Prosko, Physiotherapist and Yoga Therapist

    Yoga and Mindfulness for Pelvic Health (Physiopedia)

    Pelvic Health Support Canada - Information, resources, shop and membership site 

    Pelvic Health Professionals membership site - Resources for professionals and the public, including articles and podcast interviews 

    The Happy Pelvis -  Iinformation and advocacy resources to people with pelvic pain. 

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    No matter the cause of persistent (chronic) pain, research has shown that yoga can help reduce inflammation, counteract stress, calm the nervous system, improve mobility, and enhance quality of life. Many of my clients have have undergone numerous investigations that do not explain the severity or nature of their pain. They may have received various treatments such as medications, injections, physiotherapy, or even surgery, and their pain persists or recurs in a different place. Severe stress, depression and anxiety often accompany persistent pain. Over time, our brain can get very efficient at learning how to produce pain. without us even being aware. Persistent pain that is driven by the nervous system is very difficult to treat with conventional medical treatment. I know this from my own personal experience with persistent foot pain.

    Persistent pain is as real as any other pain that is caused by an injury or tissue damage. Yoga is a healing practice that can shift one's perception and experience with pain, and your relationship with it.  Yoga is a mind-body practice that facilitates a sense of comfort and control over your mind and body when pain is present.

    Trauma-sensitive yoga and mindfulness are complementary approaches that can work alongside conventional treatments. My practice specializes in adapting the practice for different needs and abilities.

    A trauma-sensitive approach honours where you are at any given day, wherever you are on your pain journey. At all times, you are in charge of what you do and how you do it.

    Some ways that yoga and mindfulness can help diminish persistent pain:

    • Overcome fear of movement by exploring movement that doesn't hurt and discover ways in which your body is strong and stable. 
    • Reconnect with parts of your body that you might have negative feelings about or feel cut off from.
    • Quiet your mind so that it can better listen to your body's communication and wisdom.
    • Calm your brain to create a sense of safety in the nervous system, which supports rest, recovery, and healing.
    • Becoming aware of and present with painful sensations in a gentle, curious way, at your pace, actually decreases their intensity.
    • Mindfulness and self-compassion allows you to notice thoughts and emotions you have in response to physical sensations that can fuel pain.
    • Mindfully directing your focus of attention can serve to overcome unhelpful patterns of responding to pain. 

    If you have persistent pain, you know that it changes everything. Before I experienced persistent pain myself, I didn’t fully understand the frustration, fear, feelings of powerlessness and grief it elicits. Since recovering in 2021, my mission is to bring hope to others who are suffering, with simple mind-body practices they can incorporate into their daily life. Pain is changeable AND you can live well with pain!

    Please see my articles: 

    Restoring the Mind-Body Connection to Relieve Persistent Pain

    How a Trauma-Sensitive Approach Can Help People with Pelvic Pain (relevant to other types of persistent pain)

    What can happen when a nervous system gets too sensitive? 

    My YouTube playlist: Resources for Persistent Pain

    Contact me for a no-charge 15-minute consultation to discuss how yoga might help you with your pain!

     

     

    Click here for previous group programs available as private sessions

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    Spiritual Lineage Acknowledgement

    Yoga's historical roots originated in India more than 5000 years ago.  I am evermore grateful to my teachers and for the ancient wisdom that informs my yoga practice and teaching. I strive to practice and uphold the ethics of yoga to create a more peaceful, just world. I commit to engaging in continuing education and self-reflection to avoid cultural appropriation.

    Land Acknowledgement

    I offer respect and gratitude to the First Peoples and caretakers of the land I call home: the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and Huron-Wendat nations.