Take a look at your practice, then practice what you preach! A blog by Allison Marsden, PT, DPT, OCS, PYT-c

It has been about 5 months since my M14 TA experience in Emerald Isle and I am still feeling energized from the time studying with Ginger and Cohort P. Learning with a group of students eager to grow personally and professionally is truly an honor and inspiration.  The experience gave me the opportunity to reflect on my growth as a student and how this program has guided me along in my yogic path.

I began my studies with PYTI® in 2014 and recall Module 14 being one of the most profound learning experiences.  I think it was because so many topics were new to me, such as the gut microbiome and the gut-brain-axis. I was fascinated to learn about the bidirectional communication between the gut bacteria and the brain via the Vagus nerve.  The discussions of systemic inflammation changed the way I viewed orthopedic clients and it was apparent that in order to treat these clients I had to address GI health.  But before I could authentically be a support to others, I had to take an honest look at my own practice.  How was my diet?  Was I eating on the run? Was I managing my stress and anxiety effectively?  Had I addressed my own GI health?  Lifestyle change was on the horizon.

I returned home from M14 and decided to move into the action stage of change.  I began by shifting the family diet to more whole foods and reduced processed foods.  We started eating organic produce based off of the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.  We also started changing our relationship with food thanks to a casual comment Ginger said about broccoli as a snack.  She said, “Oh fantastic, we have pre-biotics” (broccoli). So now in our household, we say things like, “Who wants some more pre-biotics (asparagus)?”  or “Anti-oxidants anyone (blueberries)?”.  My kids are at ages where they think this is funny, so it works well.

We were making progress in regards to diet and nutrition, but I have to admit we were still spending much of our life “doing” and not nearly enough time just “being”.  The sympathetic nervous system was still running the show with overscheduling lead to lack of organization, all of which was affecting sleep and energy.  Not only was this true for my family, but it seemed as if every patient that walked through the door shared this same experience of overwhelm.   So, once again, I had to take a hard look at my own personal practice and ask myself some questions.  Was I starting my day with quiet time and meditation?  Was I setting the tone for the day?  Was I taking time to breathe deeply?  Was I blowing through my yoga practice on the mat instead of turning my attention inward?  Was I exploring my feelings, emotions, and beliefs?  Deepening mindfulness and meditation was next on the horizon.

So, step by step I made changes to my personal practice, which guided me in supporting patients in the clinic.  The more I learned from my own yoga practice, the more confident I became in sharing it with others.   There is still work to be done, but my practice, personal and professional, has come a long way since 2014.

For students leaving M14, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on your experiences thus far.  Notice where you have grown the most and what might be on your horizon.  Head into M15 knowing that you will continue to bond with old friends and new.  You will gain insight in regards to your path.  And you will continue to transform healthcare.

“The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change.” -Maya Angelou