1. What distinguishes Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy from other styles of yoga therapy?
One of the key distinguishing features of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy is that it is based on a purely holistic paradigm – in other words it works on the principle that each person is unique, with a unique history, a unique manifestation of energy in body, mind, and spirit. Given this, the healing process is one of exploration and discovery taking into account the unique nature of the individual.
It is client centered and non-prescriptive. This is a very important statement and one that is pivotal in the training of Phoenix Rising Practitioners. In other words we don’t make a diagnosis and then offer a treatment. Instead we help the client determine what is happening for them in their body and in their life and to determine what they might want to change and the ways to go about it. It does take into account physical issues as well as mental, emotional and spiritual – but from the perspective that they are all linked and not separate. So the statement- “you can fix your sciatica by doing this posture three times a day” is NOT what you would ever be likely to hear from a Phoenix Rising practitioner. Its true there might be postures that are good for sciatica – but the underlying question is…. “what unique manifestation of life energy led to the creation of the sciatic condition? And to what extent does this come form a spiritual or mental dissonance as well as the physical” And I would be game to bet that for every person in the world with sciatica the answer to that question is going to be different from anyone else’s answer even though they share the same basic diagnosis – sciatica. And I believe the same applies to many other conditions as well.
Phoenix Rising Yoga therapy is also based on an approach to yoga that focuses on working from the inside out and paying less attention to “form” and more attention to “essence.” Its not about how good you look or how well you can perform an asana. Its more about what happens to you in all aspects of your being while you are engaging the asana and being able to notice and distinguish the subtleties in body, mind and spirit – then using this information as awareness on which to evaluate and possibly change your life.
Phoenix Rising Practitioners around the world have developed successful practices and have used the approach to specialize in working with specific populations/conditions/ and referral sources. Some get referrals primarily from psychiatrists and psychotherapists, others from MD’s, and others from Chiropractors or massage therapists. Some work with conditions like Attention Deficit Disorder in children, some with cancer patients. We have other practitioners who specialize in the treatment of addiction, one who works with pain management, others who work with pre and post natal women, and some who work in the corporate world using the technology to help with the management of stress.
To me what is most exciting is that we can adapt the technology of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy to work in all these different arenas and with different populations. We are able to do it by working with people from the inside out and by honoring them as unique human beings. I believe when this is done, the healing is much more profound, more lasting, and more meaningful in terms of the whole of life, rather than just fixing a symptom.
2. Who are the practitioners?
Yoga teachers, psychotherapists, bodyworkers, holistic health practitioners, and anyone interested in guiding people into the deeper aspects of self through the body. Certified Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapists have completed a comprehensive 650-hour program that includes a period of 8 months supervision with a mentor. They have also practiced yoga on a daily basis for that time.
3. What style of Yoga is it based upon?
Phoenix Rising draws its essence from Kripalu Yoga, but also draws inspiration from other traditions and teachers including, Iyengar, Bikram, Yogananda, and Satyananda. It is compatible with all styles of hatha yoga.
4. Who is the Founder and staff?
Phoenix Rising was developed and founded by Michael Lee, MA, a recognized educator and therapeutic bodyworker. Michael was a resident and faculty member at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts.
In late 2006 Michael Lee made the decision to focus his time on writing and speaking. He is the author of Turn Stress Into Bliss: The Proven 8-Week Yoga Program for Health, Relaxation and Stress Relief and of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy – Bridge from Body to Soul.
Karen Hasskarl and Elissa Cobb M.A., A.C.E., A.C.S.M. formed the new team of co-directors for Phoenix Rising at that time.
Today, Elissa is the Director of Training Programs. She has been practicing and teaching Yoga and other movement modalities for more than 20 years. She has a Master’s Degree in Embodiment Studies and is a Certified Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Practitioner, Group Facilitator, and Yoga Teacher. She is also an A.C.E. and A.C.S.M. Certified Personal Trainer. Elissa studied with Michael Lee for several years and now leads Phoenix Rising training programs nationwide. She is also an active speaker at mind/body industry conferences. Her first book, The Forgotten Body: A Way of Knowing and Understanding Self, was published in 2008 by Satya House Publications.
Jennifer Munyer, MA, LMT is now the Assistant Program Director. Jen has been immersed in the study and practice of yoga for the past decade. In her first forward bend, she had an experience that piqued her curiosity about the relationship between her thoughts and patterns and how they show up in her body. This curiosity was the cornerstone for all her studies, including a BS in Psychology from the University of Florida, a 700-hour massage therapy certification, an MA in Health Arts and Sciences from Goddard College and, of course, a complete immersion into the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy philosophy and practice. She is certified as a Professional Practitioner, a Phoenix Rising Yoga Teacher and a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Group Facilitator. She currently teaches programs and assists in the daily operations of programming.
Elissa and Jen are supported by a full staff of part-time and full-time teachers and mentors around the country. All senior teaching staff have a minimum of three years on-the-job training, as well as an extensive background in yoga.
5. How long is the Training and what is the format?
The program is divided into three levels. Levels 1 and 2 are each four days and are held in 14 different locations around North America and overseas each year. The Level 3 certification program is an eight-month program that students can complete mostly from home, although travel to a Midterm Workshop and weekly telephone coaching sessions with a Mentor are required. Most students complete all three levels within one calendar year, and some take as long as three years.
6. What is covered in the training and what teaching methods are used?
The program is primarily experiential and based on the belief that we are already healers. Essentials of the Phoenix Rising method are taught during Level 1 and 2. Students learn assisted postures, proper body mechanics, the metaphysical aspects of body psychology, dialogue techniques, breathing techniques, integration techniques, elements of professional practice, and contraindications and variations for working with specific clients.
In Level 3 the work is fine-tuned and deepened. Students receive one-to-one coaching from a personal Mentor. The personal as well as the professional development of the student is a fundamental part of the entire program.
7. Who are the clients and what can students expect after graduation?
Phoenix Rising offers a reliable, safe, body-oriented process for personal transformation to those wishing to live their lives more fully. Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapists enjoy a life of empowering others while continuing their own growth. Anyone can benefit from this work. Some clients have been in 12 Step Programs, or other programs and modalities that have opened them to growth. Many graduates combine their Phoenix Rising practice with teaching yoga. Others create a full Phoenix Rising practice and make it their sole profession. One graduate, in his first year of practice reported earning $50,000 from Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy sessions alone.
8. Can I get college credit and/or CEU’s?
Yes. Several graduates of the Phoenix Rising training have received credit for all or part of their training in both graduate and undergraduate college courses. Participating colleges include Antioch, Vermont College of Norwich University, and Lesley College. Ask for details when you call.
9. What support can I expect after graduating? What further opportunities exist?
Phoenix Rising offers an extensive short course graduate training program which includes further training in working with specific populations such as survivors of early childhood abuse, those in recovery from addiction, and those with touch sensitivity. Free marketing workshops are also available to help graduates support the work. Opportunities also exist for selected graduates to become Mentors, assist at programs and to be trained to lead workshops.
Phoenix Rising meets the requirements for schools registered in the State of Massachusetts and several other states.
10. What is the difference between Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy and psychotherapy?
Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy’s fundamental principles and theories are rooted in the ancient science of hatha yoga. It is a body-oriented modality as opposed to a mind-oriented modality such as psychotherapy. The Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioner guides the client using a specific set of carefully developed techniques to access sensory, emotional, spiritual and historical personal data which is believed to be stored in the physical body, specifically the energy body known as the Chakra System. Contemporary psychotherapy does not fully accept the premise of the body/mind/spirit triad.
The practitioner of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy uses open-ended, non-directive somatic dialogue techniques and techniques of pranayama (breath control) to support the client’s exploration of the inner experience. Additional techniques of body-scanning, use of witness consciousness ( a yogic concept of self-observation) as well as techniques of centering and meditation are integral aspects of each Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy session. These techniques, which are the fundamentals of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, are not techniques which are ordinarily utilized in the practice of psychotherapy, nor are these techniques taught in professional schools of psychiatry, social work or psychology
The practitioner of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy is trained to “hold the space” for the client to self-direct the session, whereas in psychotherapy the therapist plays an active role in directing the therapy and utilizing interventions. There is no diagnosis in Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, whereas clear, accurate diagnosis of psychopathology is the lynch pin of successful treatment in psychotherapy.
11. How does Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy work with more traditional healthcare services?
Students of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy are encouraged to recruit allied mental health professionals as a source of referrals for their clients who may need to seek professional therapy. The training includes case examples related to when and how to make appropriate mental health referrals.