Using Therapeutic Yoga to Calm Mind, Body & Soul

Ena Burrud

By Emily Clingman-Johnson
Holistic healthcare and integrated strategies to promote physical health are becoming more and more popular these days. Alternative medicine, including naturopathy, hypnotherapy, Chinese medicine and yoga is in many ways surpassing Western medicine, oftentimes becoming a patient’s first choice.
Yoga Therapy is emerging as a popular discipline to address various health challenges. Yoga therapists prescribe specific regimens of postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques to suit individual needs.
Ena Burrud is a local yoga therapist who has been helping people address both their physical and mental health for four years in Fort Collins.
“My mission is to raise awareness for the very specific adaptation of yoga for people with issues like muscular/skeletal problems, anxiety or depression,” Burrud said.
Burrud owns Treetop Yoga in Old Town. She takes pride in being set apart from typical yoga studios. Classes are purposely kept small and the focus is not about physicality.
“We’re not trying to make the perfect shape,” she said. “It’s more philosophical and psychological.”
This studio is a little more geared towards beginners who would like person-alized attention, said Burrud, as well as for folks who have strong philosophical and psychological ideas.
“It’s about in-depth exploration,” Burrud said. “And less about man versus nature.”
While mainstream yoga classes at the gym can give one a good “butt-kicking,” they can be large and impersonal or lack in variety, said Burrud.
“At Treetop, you’re not going to get the same thing every time,” she said. “Some days it might not even look like yoga.”
Daphne-Rupp-Zimmerman has been a student at Treetop for two years. In the beginning she would cry or feel uncomfortable in her classes. She jokes that she was initially non-compliant. She was battling depression and didn’t trust anyone. But after a while, she felt a connection to Burrud and learned several different ways to adjust her mental status.
“It’s like I have a purse of stuff,” Rupp-Zimmerman said. “I have options. If I’m feeling a certain way, I can choose certain poses that I can incorporate into my daily life.”
Rupp-Zimmerman feels much better these days. She likes the variety and personal attention that comes with yoga therapy.
“The nice part about it is that I don’t feel stuck,” she said. “And I also learned to trust.”
Other students have similar testimonials. A multiple sclerosis patient reported a stronger sense of balance. A formerly abused child suffered from panic attacks in her adulthood until she participated in yoga therapy. She doesn’t have panic attacks anymore.
“It’s kind of like going to therapy and moving your body,” Burrud said.
Burrud never knew that taking a yoga class fourteen years ago would lead her to what she’s doing today.
“I’m living the dream,” she laughed, worried about sounding too cliché. “Really, though, after that first class in 1997, I fell in love with the practice.”
After practicing yoga for several years, she began teaching yoga ten years ago. Finally she opened her own studio four years ago and she couldn’t be happier.
“I’m a yogi and this is my life.”


Ena Burrud’s Tips for Reducing Anxiety:
1. Breathing into your belly soothes your body and mind. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system, relieving stress.
2. Extend your exhales longer than the inhales. Try it for ten breaths.
3. Soothing yoga poses include forward folds, twists, and prone poses. Reduce chronic anxiety by moving slowly through sequences following the rhythm of the breath. Holding poses longer also has a grounding effect.
4. Meditation creates more skillful minds and increases coping skills. Evidence shows that a regular meditation practice lowers heart rates  and diminishes anxiety. Start with ten minutes once or twice a day.
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