Author: Charlie Henderson
At age twelve, Evan Rachel Soroka, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and she has been insulin dependent ever since. This disease is the hallmark of Evan’s philosophy towards taking charge of her own health and managing her condition. She describes her commitment to yoga as a life-long passion – that whatever she has done has always drawn her to pursue this discipline. In 2010, Evan returned to Aspen and started teaching yoga at 02Aspen and then in 2014 became Studio Director. She has spent the last five years studying Yoga Therapy through the American Viniyoga Institute under Gary Kraftsow.
Yoga Therapy is only just emerging and is fast becoming a new complementary therapy to conditions from injury rehabilitation, chronic disease, anxiety/depression and addiction. Medical practitioners, although initially reluctant to recognize the validity of yoga, are now starting to incorporate more yoga techniques into their approach to healing. Yoga therapy is about bringing balance to the body and mind. It’s a more holistic approach to health incorporating techniques such as breathing, stretching, postures, mantra and visualization. The goal being to create, stimulate and maintain optimal physical health by removing blockages and promoting prana or optimal wellbeing. Prana is the ultimate life force or energy – in its most tangible form it’s our breath.
My initial session with Evan started with a check in to see where I was both physically and emotionally. She checked my alignment, which she confirmed was out (one hip higher than other), and the rest was all stress related. As we worked together on breathing and stretching exercises, she explained that yoga therapy focuses a lot on our energy centers (chakras) and by breathing through them, we can identify where blockages and imbalances are occurring. In these individual one-on-one sessions, she customizes a practice for her clients which can involve as little as fifteen minutes a day a few times a week to work through a prescribed routine of breathing, stretching and meditation exercises. We talked about modern life stress even in our charming idyllic town of Aspen and how people are starting to reorient their approach to their health and wellness seeking alternative therapies like this to deal with everything from depression and anxiety, to MS and even to chronic illness and pain.
Evan likens Yoga Therapy to a Financial Plan – how we will prioritize consulting with our money manager a few times a year to manage our assets and retirement funds. Well, she says, she hopes that people will start taking the same approach to their health – setting a plan and maintaining discipline by looking after their bodies; and to do this in the most holistic and natural way, relying less on medication and addictive behaviors to cope with life and help us strive towards inner peace. To that end, Evan illustrates how yoga can help link your attention to something higher than oneself, incorporating a more spiritual realm into the equation promoting introspection and inner transformation. I’ve noticed a difference in my own daily life since starting to work with Evan. I’m more conscious of the fight or flight state of mind that is easy to slip into, I can catch my breath quicker to calm and I definitely feel a deeper connection with my mind/body with the increased awareness.
- The MGH Benson Henry Institute recently released a cohort study showing that relaxation practices like yoga postures, breathing practices, and meditation can reduce the need for medical care by 43% – Yoga Therapy Today/Winter 2016.
- Yoga therapy is derived from the yoga tradition of Patanjali and Ayurveda (system of medicine originating from India)
- It is the the integration of western medical and psychological knowledge with yogic concepts
- Yoga Therapy is uniquely only offered by Evan at 02 Aspen. www.02aspen.com