Updated: Apr 1
Five Body Wellness was born from my personal healing journey with natural & complementary medicine.
Hi there! My name is Nancy, and I’ve been practicing yoga since 2007. I’m certified as a Trauma Informed Yoga Therapist and have been guiding others through therapeutic experiences with yoga since 2012.
Five Body Wellness is the culmination of over a decade of personal experiences with yoga therapy, and over 1500 hours of training in yoga therapy and complementary medicine.
The foundation of my work is based on the Panchamaya Kosha model of wellness. Pancha meaning ‘five’ and kosha refers to ‘layer’ or ‘sheath.’ Maya refers to ‘illusion,’ which is a much more complicated concept than what I will explain here. In this instance, it can be understood in terms of the illusion we fall under when we over identify with any one layer and forget the systemic nature of the self.
We can think of ourselves kind of like onions, made of layers. The Panchamaya kosha model describes the individual as being composed of five basic layers.
Annamaya kosha: physical layer, also called the “food body”
Pranamaya kosha: energetic layer
Manomaya kosha: mental/emotional layer
Vijñānamaya kosha: discernment layer
Anandamaya kosha: bliss layer
Picture from iytyogatherapy.com
The anandamaya kosha, the bliss layer, is thought to be the doorway to our true nature. In order to achieve the bliss body, we must restore health & wellness to the physical, energetic, and mental/emotional layers using our faculties of discernment. Basically, if we want to find inner peace and contentment, we need to take care of all aspects of our health. Hence, Five Body Wellness.
What is yoga therapy?
Yoga therapy blends traditional yoga techniques, Ayurveda, and western medical science to help those who live with illness, injury, or disability achieve health & wellness within each kosha. Yoga therapists learn about specific illnesses and injuries as well as the effects those have on the body and the self. We then learn how to apply traditional yoga techniques in a therapeutic way to help people achieve the benefits of yoga from right where they are.
Ayurveda is unique in that we look at the individual in relation to their environment. We look at ourselves as part of the environment, and our relationship to our environment as an integral part of our personal health.
Yoga provides techniques that help us address wellness within each layer of the self, as well as create harmony among all of the layers together. When we understand conditions that contribute to dis-ease, we can expertly apply the techniques of yoga to bring relief to those conditions. That’s yoga therapy.
Trauma Informed Yoga Therapy
Under the umbrella of yoga therapy, there are specializations. Some people specialize in yoga therapy for cancer, some in yoga therapy for menopause. I specialize in yoga therapy for mental health, specifically for those with a history of trauma, disordered anxiety, toxic relationships, codependency, and behavioral issues.
TIYT is a person-centered teaching methodology that will meet you just where you are and cater the practice to your unique needs. TIYT helps me create a space that empowers you to exercise healthy boundaries and take charge of your experience.
Functional Yoga Therapy
After earning my undergraduate degree in psychology, I worked as a behavioral therapist for a number of years. I used a functional model of therapy, which means we’d look at the function of disordered behavior in an attempt to find a positive solution.
Instead of punishing bad behavior, for example, I‘d analyze the situation to determine what need that bad behavior is trying to get met. Is this behavior expressing a need for attention? Or perhaps a need for soothing? Then, I’d teach positive ways to get the underlying need met. If we can meet our needs in positive ways that don’t come with negative consequences, the bad behavior will fall away on it’s own.
I worked primarily with children, but as adults we might ask ourselves why do I do things that I know aren’t good for me? Why do I neglect certain areas of my life? Why do I say yes when I really mean no?
With functional analysis, we can begin to understand our motivations in a much deeper way. That helps us create positive solutions to personal challenges that are focused on meeting our needs rather than eliminating problems.
While I don’t practice behavioral therapy anymore, my work as a yoga therapist is informed by this functional approach. I think functional yoga therapy is the most practical because it’s solution oriented and centered around meeting the needs of the client.
For that reason, one on one sessions are the most productive. They really allow me, as the yoga therapist, to help you identify your core needs and develop a personalized routine that is both realistic and accessible to you just where you are. The more I can focus on one individual, the more I can help them personalize their practice to get exactly what they need out of it.
Yoga as a Mental Health System
Traditionally, yoga was a meditation system designed for training the mind, or consciousness. It was a practice in shifting perception; transforming pain into wisdom, and wisdom into freedom from suffering.
The ancients understood that if we can understand the self, we can understand the cause of our suffering. If we can understand the cause, we can heal the suffering.
Yoga was a practice of coming into ever deepening relationship with the self. It was through this journey that yogis came to understand universal truths of the human condition and would teach others how to relieve their suffering as well.
Through their work with themselves, and with the selves of others, they came to know a more universal Self; a living consciousness that we all belong to; that core aspect of our existence that unites us. This is the insight that informed the science of yoga we have today.
If we translate this to modern language...essentially, yoga was designed as a treatment for mental/emotional distress.
Part of my mission with Five Body Wellness is to teach this more traditional understanding of yoga, showing people how accessible yoga can be. It’s not all about bending your body into interesting shapes. There are many ways to practice and receive the benefits of yoga, many don’t even require a yoga mat.
Accessibility in Yoga
When considering accessibility in yoga, it's not just about whether you can do the techniques, it's also about whether you can afford it. Personalization helps to address the first point of accessibility, but it's of no use if you can't even get through the door.
Keeping my work financially accessible is a priority, which isn't a great business model, but I have committed myself to a modest life and am more concerned with getting these tools out there. In the past, and even still to this day, I have been excluded from alternative therapies because I couldn't afford the session rates, and that has sucked. I am committed to being someone who doesn't perpetuate that experience for others. Getting paid when I work with clients who can afford it allows me to keep my teaching sustainable. I get real transparent in another article about how much it actually costs to be a professional yoga teacher. If you're curious, check out Why is wellness so expensive?
So, that's really what FBW is all about. These are my intentions and what I hope to bring to the table if you choose to come have a seat :)
Yours in service,