Yoga teacher training certification courses are available everywhere and at anytime: semester long classes, retreats and online. You can be a certified teacher within a month or even take a crash course in less time than that. As a teacher, it is then your responsibility to continue to improve yourself, add to your toolbox, and expand your teaching horizons. Continued education courses and additional certifications are a great way to brush up on your anatomy, explore new styles, and maybe deviate a little from classic yoga and find a way to integrate what you learn.
Shortly after completing my 200-hour certification, I found a form of manual therapy that focuses on aligning posture, rehabbing injuries and chronic pain. It sparked an interest because a lot of my yoga students often told me about their injuries or chronic pain and their struggle to find more than temporary relief. I felt like I had found the approach that cracked the code to lasting solutions to such cases.
Neurokinetic Therapy® (NKT) is a therapeutic approach based on Motor Control Theory that uses sequenced muscle-tests and soft-tissue releases to restore pain-free movement and eliminate compensation patterns in the body. Simply put, NKT allows you to pinpoint which muscles aren’t working and then tries to figure out why.
NKT changed my life. Thanks to this approach, I began thinking about the anatomy of the human body in a completely new way, understanding not only where different muscles are located but how they might work together to create certain movement patterns. I also began to pick up on typical compensation patterns that occur after injuries, persistent poor posture or simply from a sedentary lifestyle. This was a game-changer to my teaching abilities and to my students.
I restructured all of my classes. I tried to address the most frequent complaints I heard from my yogis. “My back hurts,” “my neck feels tight,” “I have shooting pain down one of my legs,” “I do ab exercises every day and don’t see any results.”
My classes focused on stabilizing the intrinsic core, breathing mechanics and proper alignment. I applied NKT concepts to how I sequenced each class. For example, I like addressing low back pain. People that spend long hours sitting down end up shortening their hip flexors. After those extended periods of time, the hip flexors have a difficult time lengthening back into their healthy length. This creates a tug on the low back that can produce chronic low back pain. It’s crucial that we reverse all those hours sitting down and return the hip flexors to a proper range in order to maintain a healthy lordosis.
With these new sequences, my regular practitioners started noticing a difference. I also started offering treatment sessions outside of my group classes. Those sessions were the most rewarding for the people looking for pain relief and more specific injury rehabilitation.
I had a female student who frequented my evening classes who suffered from a frozen shoulder. She had already tried acupuncture, massage therapy, physical therapy and could not find the relief she was looking for. After all the treatment she had received, she still only had about 30% range of motion.
In the first session, we were able to significantly increase this range to about 50%. She was in shock. She progressed more in a single session than she had with all the other modalities combined. NKT protocol revealed that the internal rotators of her shoulder, especially the pec minor, were not firing correctly, creating compensatory patterns. I assigned her corrective exercises to do twice daily and monitored her progress during yoga. It wasn’t very long before she had regained almost full range of motion and was performing chaturanga transitions instead of skipping them. She was thrilled after almost having lost hope of regaining her shoulder mobility. She put in the work, and the results showed.
Neurokinetic Therapy® is a type of treatment practiced by many professionals who use manual therapy: physical therapists, massage therapists, MD’s, DO’s, acupuncturists, personal trainers, occupational therapists, Pilates instructors and yoga teachers. Practitioners are spread out around the globe and can be found through the official website’s directory. NKT is a three-level course that can transform the practice of manual therapists and help them address issues more specifically and proficiently. As a yoga teacher who practices NKT, I highly recommend finding an NKT certified professional if you’re looking for an efficient, relatively speedy, and therefore cost-effective recovery plan.
Michelle Kirel aspires to share with as many people as possible the necessary tools to maintain a healthy, strong and resilient lifestyle. Michelle has a lifelong passion for yoga. She was exposed to yoga at an early age by her mother who is a certified Iyengar yoga instructor. It was during college when she started practicing daily and falling in love with the feeling that comes after a yoga class. Following graduation, Michelle completed her 200 hr certification training in Vinyasa Yoga to dive deeper into the ancient tradition. She currently combines her understanding of yoga with Neurokinetic Therapy to help people treat chronic pain, injuries and postural imbalances. Her goal is to continue to learn as much as possible to be able to help people move better, feel better, and stay inspired.