Courtney Butler, founder of Balance Yoga & Wellness, has been a yoga practitioner for 27 years and has been a yoga teacher and private yoga therapist since 2001. As of this writing, Butler was one of the first yoga certified therapists in the nation.
“They just gave that out on (Aug. 1); it's the first time that credential has been given out,” she said. “There were no real certifications for yoga therapists until just now, and that's international.”
In addition, Butler trains other yoga teachers and just recently took a position with the Dr. Dean Ornish heart disease reversal clinic.
Yoga calms the nervous system and elongates the muscles, helping to reduce joint injury and injuries of the muscles. Butler said in her cardiac rehab work she uses yoga as a lifestyle medicine to help to heal heart disease, and it's also been found to help with diabetes and early stages of cancer.
“The nervous system controls so much in our body. It helps to control the responses in our body and the ups and downs of our hormones. Yoga also helps to drain lymph
fluid,” Butler said. “Wherever there is circulation there is healing, so it brings circulation to parts of our body. We don't normally move our body in this way, and other types of exercise don't often move your body laterally, twisting, inverted.”
She added that it's important for a person with any kind of injury or health issue to find a yoga teacher or therapist who is experienced and understands those issues. Otherwise, she added, a normal, healthy person can benefit from a good, solid yoga class.
“Yoga helps with balance, mobility, reducing morbidity or illness over a person's lifetime, strengthening bones, strengthening muscles. And you don't have to do hard yoga for an hour a day to get the benefits; you can see benefits after just a few minutes a day. If someone did these six poses every day, they would get the full benefits from these poses,” said Butler.
Butler and her assistant yoga therapist, Deby Su Sweatt, teach weekly beginner-friendly yoga classes at 6:15 p.m. Mondays and 10 a.m. Wednesdays at Emergent Arts, 341-A Whittington Ave.
From the seated position, inhale, then raise your left arm out to the side, exhale, and continue to bring the arm up above your head beside your right ear while placing your right hand on the floor for support. Repeat for other side. We generally don’t have a lot of lateral movement in our daily life, so this stretch improves mobility as we age, opens the lungs and massages the heart. 2 SEATED LATERAL
Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips. Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs, placing both arms straight out in front of you on either side of your head, palms face down on the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck. This sequence helps to lengthen the long muscles of the spine, drains lymph and massages the heart. 5 CHILD’S POSE
From the seated position, keep your spine straight, place the right hand on the left knee and the left hand behind you on the floor. Exhale, twist the waist, shoulders and neck to the left and look over the left shoulder. Repeat for other side. This sequence massages the internal organs, improves mobility as we age and is good for tight shoulders. 3 SEATED SPINAL TWIST
Lay on your stomach with your forearms flat on the floor, elbows under the shoulders and legs side by side straight out behind you. Lengthen your tailbone toward your heels and rotate your thighs inward by rolling your outer thighs toward the floor. This helps broaden and lengthen your lower back and sacrum to protect it in a back bend. This sequence is helpful for opening the chest and massaging the thymus. It is often used in people with depression and anxiety and it is good for immunity and lower back problems. 4 SPHINX POSE
Sit up straight with hands together, and begin in this seated position. Hold each of the following poses for a few cycles of inhalation and exhalation for best results. 1 SEATED POSTURE
6 LEGS IN A CHAIR With a chair in front of you, lay on your back facing the chair. Place both legs in the seat of the chair, bent at the knees. Keep your torso straight and palms up and place both arms at your sides.