Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Interview with Cheri Clampett on Therapeutic Yoga and Yoga for Cancer

Accessible Yoga Blog: Where do you teach? Who is the population?

Cheri: While I teach the Therapeutic Yoga Training across the United States and teach workshops and retreats worldwide, Santa Barbara is my home base. My teaching schedule there includes classes for people undergoing cancer treatment at the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center, people with a variety of conditions, such as Parkinson’s and MS, who I work with privately, and Therapeutic Yoga monthly workshops at the Santa Barbara Yoga Center for the general population.

Accessible Yoga Blog: Can you share an experience that stands out?

Cheri: Early on in my teaching career I had the opportunity to work with a quadrapalegic. When we first met he expressed to me that he assumed yoga was not accessible to him. I encouraged him to work with me in one-on-one sessions, where I guided him through different kinds of visualizations, pranayama techniques, and restorative yoga poses. For the yoga poses, I would move his body for him, and prop it in the restorative fashion. This was over twenty years ago – we still keep in touch, and these days he is teaching meditation. I think the yoga sessions opened a new horizon for him. For me, teaching him took the belief I already had, which is that the healing benefits of yoga should be available to everybody, and gave me that early confidence that with the right palette of techniques, a teacher could adapt for perhaps almost any condition. That belief was one of my early drivers in creating the Therapeutic Yoga Training Program, in which the core curriculum covers a range of techniques from visualization to restorative yoga poses that can be tuned and adapted to a wide range of conditions.

Accessible Yoga Blog: Why do you teach this group or this population? What made you choose this specific group?

Cheri: I’ve always been interested in bringing yoga to healthcare settings and reaching out to those who may not be able to make it to, or participate in, a typical Hatha yoga class. As much as I love a good Hatha yoga class, my teaching interest naturally gravitated towards helping those recovering from or living with illness or injury.

I started the program at the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center nineteen years ago by coordinating a grant from the Balm Foundation to pay for the initial yoga props and teacher salaries. Since then it has grown from several classes a week for patients and one for doctors and nurses. My heart and soul is focused on healing, and I view the work I do at the Cancer Center as a beautifully empowering opportunity for patients to combine the regimen and medical treatment they’ve chosen with a chance to connect to their bodies and deeper selves in a way. The oncologists and our wellness director are incredibly supportive of offering and incorporating the yoga experience. After a few years the doctors saw a noticeable difference in the patients who were attending the yoga classes. At that time a wonderful space was created for the yoga program. Our new Ridley-Tree Cancer Center, which opened this year, has a new, light-filled yoga space where all the wellness classes are held for patients.

Likewise, my desire in co-founding the Therapeutic Yoga Training Program twenty years ago was to give yoga teachers, nurses, doctors, physical therapists, acupuncturists, and other healing professionals practical tools they could easily apply in the healthcare environments in which they are already working.

Accessible Yoga Blog: What are you excited to do next with your students?

Cheri: For 2018 and 2019, my teaching partner Arturo Peal and I will be bringing the Therapeutic Yoga Training Program to a number of wonderful yoga centers, including Integral Yoga Institute New York, Blue Lotus Yoga in Raleigh, Yoga House in Los Angeles, Coil Yoga in Fresno andthe Santa Barbara Yoga Center. We’re excited to be part of their teacher training programs and feel that all of these centers are a light in their communities. One of my greatest joys in life is watching graduates of the Therapeutic Yoga Training start programs in their community that offer accessible, nurturing practices to those who would most benefit.

Cheri Clampett, C-IAYT, ERYT-500 is a certified yoga therapist with over 25 years of teaching experience. She is the director of the Therapeutic Yoga Training Program which she founded in 1998. She has also co-led the Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training and has presented Therapeutic Yoga at Beth Israel Medical Center, and the Rusk Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Cheri currently teaches yoga at the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, where she founded the yoga program for cancer patients in 1999 and also teaches monthly workshops at the Santa Barbara Yoga Center. As a certified Yoga Therapist, Cheri focuses on the healing aspects of yoga: freeing the body, breath and flow of energy through practicing with awareness, compassion, and love. Cheri is the co-author of the Therapeutic Yoga Kit, published in January 2009 by Inner Traditions.

This post was conducted and edited by Kathleen Kraft.

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