The Heart Speaks by Mimi Guarneri is written by a cardiologist who lost several family members to heart disease. She began her career as a cardiologist inserting stents in her patients to aid in blockages. She began to notice that the same people continue to return for the same issues. Simultaneously, a few of her patients began utilizing alternative medicine in conjunction with the western medicine she was applying. Dr. Guarneri was skeptical at first but began to see progress in her patients who were using these methods. She then founded the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in San Diego where holistic healing methods such as acupuncture, group therapy, biofeedback, and yoga were combined with conventional methods to aid in healing.
The book is divided into 3 parts and the second part was the most appealing to me as it went into the emotions of stress, anger, depression, and grief and how they affect the heart. Dr. Guarneri noticed that when people began to open up and share themselves as well as what they are carrying around, the healing can truly begin. Lastly, Guarneri states that “compassion, patience, and empathy” have shifted in the medical field and are desperately needed from doctors to their patients.
This book is fairly quick to read and not geared towards medical professionals so it can benefit the lay person.
Read this book if:
- You are interested in more information on the intersection of conventional and complementary medicine with a focus on heart disease
- You are a practitioner of conventional or complementary medicine
- You have been diagnosed with any type of heart disease, high blood pressure, or experienced a heart attack
Guarneri, M. (2006). The Heart Speaks: A Cardiologist Reveals the Secret Language of Healing. New York, NY: Simon & Shuster.
Stephanie Cunningham of “Changing the Face of Yoga” podcast recently interviewed Katie on how she integrates restorative yoga in her mental health practice to aid in managing symptoms of traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and self-injury. Listen here.
I just completed Level 1 training of Judith Hanson Lasater’s Relax and Renew: Learning to Teach Restorative Yoga so it’s fitting to review the book. This is the book for all things restorative yoga. She provides information on the benefits of this type of yoga and a thorough explanation on all of the props used as well as how to make props out of regular household items. Several chapters have specifically designed sequences for such things as basic relaxation, insomnia, travel, pregnancy, and back pain. Each chapter has beautiful photographs of each pose, a description of how to get in and out of the pose, how long to stay in, as well as benefits and cautions. This book is accessible for the novice, experienced yogi, or teacher.
Relax and Renew is not designed to be read from cover to cover, but more of a “take what you need” approach. If you are interested in restorative yoga, this is where you start!
Read this book if:
- You are interested in learning more about restorative yoga
- Have a desire to teach restorative yoga
Lasater, J. H., & Schatz, M. P. (2011). Relax and renew: restful yoga for stressful times. Berkeley: Rodmell.
I recently completed Lasater Yoga’s 21-day Savasana Intensive. Seems strange that Savasana(relaxation) and intensive can go in the same sentence huh? Well THEY DO! Savasana can be one of if not the most difficult poses in yoga. “Why? You just lie on the floor?” Well yes. That’s where the real work happens. Not the outer body work that we are used to doing in a flow class. It’s more about the inner work. Savasana(or Relaxation Pose) is a place to land and notice. Things will present themselves during this stillness; feelings, thoughts, sensations, the dreaded “judgement” word, etc. In savasana, we can learn to sit through all of it without doing anything. We are so used to “doing” that we forget about “being.” Judith Hanson Lasater said during one of the audio recordings, “savasana prepares us for death.” Whoa. Sit with that for a minute.
Judith and her daughter, Lizzie lead the practitioner through 21-days of rest. Each day has either an audio recording about the art of savasana, or a video tutorial on setting up. A couple of days included guided meditation and breathwork to begin savasana. The expectation is to listen or watch then practice savasana for 20-minutes. You saw that I said “practice savasana” right? This time on your mat shows up differently each day and can be challenging in different ways. It is most certainly a practice.
I started this program in January and committed to practicing each day that I was at my office. I am fortunate to have a very peaceful “Breathe” room that is perfect for just this. I can confirm that I followed my plan. Looking back, I wish I had practiced everyday to really see the effects. The good news is that once you pay for the program, you have access to it forever. I will practice everyday next go-around.
I learned throughout the practice how sacred rest really is. I learned that I can take a break in the middle of the day for rest. I learned that a “real” savasana is at least 10-minutes. I learned new ways to set up savasana. I learned breathing techniques to lead in to savasana. I learned why savasana is so important. I learned that I need rest.
Do this program if:
- You would like to take your understanding of savasana deeper
- You are a yoga teacher(you get 20 CE hours upon completion!)
- You are a practitioner of yoga
- You need rest
The Therapist in the Real World by Jeffrey Kottler subtitles “What you never learn in graduate school (but really need to know).” When purchasing the book, it was the subtitle that caught my eye and solidified my decision. I’ve been out of graduate school for almost 13 years and feel that I have learned a lot more by doing than I ever did in the classroom. Kottler recognizes in the book that graduate school is limited in what they can teach and impress upon their students. He hopes that this book fills the gap.
The book is divided into 3 parts: gaps in graduate programs as well as the direction our field is headed, challenges, and professional as well as personal development for mental health clinicians. There was some comfort for me in reading about the challenges of this profession as well as the positives. I enjoyed Kottler’s predictions for the future of our profession, especially the movement towards more mind-body treatment.
Kottler discusses storytelling as a useful tool in therapy or presentations. This part really resonated with me and has caused me to think more about adding stories in sessions and presentations.
He dedicates a chapter to office environments as well as publishing. Neither of these chapters resonated with me but I understand the decision to include them in this book.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and sharing tidbits with other clinicians I know!
Read this book if and only if:
- You are a mental health clinician!
Kottler, J. A. (2015). The therapist in the real world: what you never learn in graduate school (but really need to know). New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Join Katie Rodgers, LCSW & RYT-200 at Noda Yoga(3201 North Davidson Street, above Cabo Fish Taco) every other Sunday at 5pm for a 75-minute Restorative Yoga Class. No prior experience is needed and this type of yoga can accommodate all body types.
Restorative Yoga is best described as “active relaxation.” This type of yoga is the most effective in calming and relaxing the body which in turn, relaxes and settles the mind. So often our bodies operate from the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for keeping us alert as well as preparing for incoming stressors. This is that “fight, flight, or freeze” mode the we have all experienced. Our bodies can handle being in this mode, however it is not equipped to be here ALL the time. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for our rest, rejuvenation, and relaxation. It is beneficial to tap into this system more than we do.
In restorative yoga, poses are held longer with the support of props. All poses are on the ground and the body is fully supported in order to sink into the pose. Because the body is fully supported, messages are sent to the brain to release tension and relax. The longer the poses are held, the more tension is released, and then the mind and body can relax.
Oftentimes in restorative yoga, people will start to learn more about their body, such as where they hold tension or where pain is originating from. As a result of this practice, tension is released in those areas in our day to day lives.
The practice is meditative in nature complemented with rhythmic breath work to calm the fluctuations of the mind.
Restorative yoga can bring up emotions that have been neglected or are lingering in the body. This type of yoga teaches us to acknowledge these emotions without doing anything as they will be released. This is an important lesson that will follow off the mat.
Restorative yoga compliments a busy, stressful lifestyle and is generally accessible for all levels and types of bodies.