30 Sep Meet the Practitioner: Yoga teacher and OT Tessa Heine (Melbourne Vic)
Occupational Therapist Tessa Heine was working in a Melbourne pain management clinic. She had introduced yoga into the multi-disciplinary program to help clients with relaxation and stress management. Tessa wanted her students to progress to yoga outside the clinic.
The challenge for health professionals
However, Tessa was unable to find a yoga teacher with the knowledge and skill she considered necessary to work with the complex physical and psychosocial needs of people with persistent pain. She decided to start her own yoga classes for people with pain.
Tessa attended our Yoga for Pain Practitioner Training where she:
- learned to structure a course around a core purpose
- accessed templates to help design her program, and
- networked with other health professionals and yoga teachers interested in yoga and pain
Tessa develops her Yoga for Pain program
Tessa quickly progressed to the advanced Practitioner stage of designing and piloting a Yoga for Pain course with a small group of clients. The clients were referred to her by allied health professionals. She was supported through fortnightly mentoring which helped Tessa validate her ideas, implement the necessary business elements of her initiative, and critically reflect on her work.
Participants in Tessa’s 6-week pilot presented with arthritis, endometriosis and Spondyloptosis, as well as anxiety and depression. Her course was designed to empower them in the way they use their body. It would also help make their lives about things other than pain. Tessa included gentle yoga group classes, individual consuts, course notes and a workbook.
What participants said
At the end of Tessa’s course, participants said they had less pain, were more confident in movement, and family members have noticed they participate more in activities.
“I am able to go to school more and go out and do more things instead of letting my pain stop me from doing what I want to do” (Participant)
One student has now progressed to general yoga classes run by Tessa’s yoga teacher colleague. The student participates confidently in all the postures taught without a pain flare.
“I am aware of how I have tended to get stuck in my ‘pain’ headspace and that I can try to move out of that and not experience pain with every movement” (Participant)
Tessa creates a referral pathway from pain clinic to community
Tessa met the yoga teacher she referred to at Yoga for Pain Practitioner Training and saw a great opportunity to team up: Sarah observed Tessa’s classes to learn, and Tessa now has a referral pathway for those clients she thought would benefit from yoga but for whom she couldn’t find an appropriate class.
When yoga teachers who understand pain work with health professionals keen to see their patients progress, the result can be a referral pathway of holistic health caring.
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