During my last yoga therapy class weekend, I had a little bit of a break through. It was less of learning something new and more a rearranging of how I approaching treating yoga therapy clients.
In the past two years of classes, there has been an emphasis on analyzing clients in a very clinical way. Measuring range of motion in degrees, taking blood pressure, seeing how many seconds they can make the sound of OM on an exhale and writing it all into SOAP notes. SOAP notes are what medical professionals use to document what happened in a patient session. This type of documentation is good for caretakers to keep track of all aspects of a client's services. It's also important, as a yoga therapist, to separate subjective and objective observations of our clients and to be able to communicate with general practitioners if we are working in a medical setting.
During a few classes, some teachers presented different ways of evaluating clients, but it always seemed like alternatives that we could incorporate if we chose, with SOAP notes being the gold standard for documentation. Although the forms they used varied, they all looked at clients through the Panchamaya Kosha Model. In this model, every person is made up of layers, called koshas. Think of these koshas as if they were nesting dolls or an onion. Every layer you open or peel away reveals another and they are all interdependent and affect each other. The layers in order from outer to inner are the physical body, the breath or physiology, the mind, consciousness, and bliss or emotions. Although I had first learned this way back in 200-hour training, I finally realized that this is how I need to approach my work with clients. It's my job to work with the breath, body, and/or mind in order help the client heal. Because honestly, not all the ways we need to heal are physical but we can use any of the layers to affect the others.