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What makes BAM Therapy yoga different?

Exploring psychology-enhanced yoga for mental wellness


BAM Therapy grew out of my passion to take yoga further, an inner drive to harness yoga practices that work with our deeper layers of psychological landscape. BAM Therapy was started in 2022 in Exeter to meet together my two worlds of clinical psychology and yoga – to offer holistic therapies that nourish and nurture our physical self, mind, and emotional wellbeing simultaneously.


My intention with BAM Therapy is to combine evidence-based psychological theory and techniques with body-based yoga practices. In this way, I can incorporate my doctoral level qualification and trainings as a Clinical Psychologist and many years of experience working in mental health services, supporting people to make sense of their experiences and bring about meaningful life changes. The specialist knowledge, skills, and experiences I have gained as a Psychologist are combined with my learning and growth as an ongoing yoga student, and experienced Yoga Teacher. Recently, I have completed additional training to learn more about psychology-informed yoga and yoga for mental health. I have undertaken further development workshops and training in Yoga-CBT (yoga cognitive behavioural therapy) and advanced specialist training to become a Trauma-Informed Yoga Teacher. All of these experiences have helped me fortify my psychology-enhanced yoga offerings.


So, what does this mean exactly…?

This is an important question that I’ve been asked a few times over the past year. People have asked me: "what makes BAM Therapy different?," "how do you bring psychology and the mind into yoga?," and "what can we expect from your yoga classes and courses in Exeter?"


To explore these questions, I’ve outlined two important areas including:

Keep reading if you are interested in finding out more!


Dr Kayleigh Darch practicing wellbeing yoga in Exeter

What are the similarities between BAM Therapy and general yoga classes?

My yoga teaching journey began in traditional schools of yoga including Ashtanga vinyasa yoga and vinyasa krama yoga. Given this, the foundation of my yoga offerings lie within these yoga approaches which means that you can expect to witness and experience some familiar parts of yoga including:


Opening poses: the yoga classes and courses I offered through BAM Therapy typically start with exploring an opening yoga posture to invite settling into the space. This might be finding an easy seated posture, taking rest lying on the back, or starting the class from a standing position. The opening pose supports the process of present moment awareness.


Movements of the spine: following the opening pose, the yoga class often progresses onto movements and stretches that start to gently warm-up the spine or other areas of the body which might be focused on later in the class.


Yoga flows and sequences: the yoga classes often include flowing sequences of postures that are familiar from Ashtanga vinyasa and vinyasa krama yoga including sun salutations, standing postures, seated sequences, and lying down postures.


Linking the breath with movement: in vinyasa styles of yoga, synchronicity of breath and body is a key focus. During yoga classes with BAM Therapy, I will often model this option to students and invite you to join me if you find this helpful. We might work towards and practice the flowing of the breath guiding the movements of the body into and out of yoga postures.


Breath work practices: a primary focus of many yoga traditions is the use of the breath. This might include regulating the breath when we work with the body in yoga postures and flows. It can also include separate breathing techniques that help us learn skills with consciously controlling the breath and using the breath to regulate our internal states.


Closing practices: BAM Therapy yoga classes often offer guided progressive relaxation and stillness in savasana poses at the end of a class, lying on the back finding release and rest.


BAM Therapy: wellbeing yoga in Exeter

What makes BAM Therapy yoga classes different?

This is where the psychologist part of me comes into the mix! And this is what I genuinely love and value about what I offer – bringing our psyche and mind more explicitly and consciously into the yoga journey; and offering yoga practices that focus on supporting better mental health. There are practices that I offer that are different to what might be experienced in general yoga classes. What's more, there is a key difference in the way that I offer practices in yoga classes.


Here are some of the things that makes BAM Therapy unique:


Cognitive intention: the class typically starts with consideration of an overall intention for the yoga practice, and BAM Therapy goes beyond this into the realms of cognitive intention. That is, the lens through which we will observe our experiences of the yoga practices, the mind-set and perspectives that we might try to bring closer to us or within us. This can include incorporations of cognitive intentions that support trauma-recovery, focus on growth and personal development, or an understanding of our human psychological processes. The language used in the class is intentionally structured to help reduce negative thought ruminations and encourage helpful and supportive thinking patterns.


Focus on internal experiences: this involves working explicitly with the mind, emotional patterns, and our individual physical sensations first and foremost, before we consider the external parts of yoga (for example, how the body looks, the shape we are creating, or guidelines for an expression of a posture). An explicit connection with internal experiences includes paying closer attention to our conscious awareness, building skills and experience with watching the mind, noticing bodily cues, and choosing an effective action based on these experience before and during all of the practices. Individual differences and personal choice are actively encouraged and supported. In this way, what I offer through BAM Therapy supports connection with internal states and processes rather than a focus on the external, and there is less focus on working towards a pre-determined alignment of the body.


Psychology theory and information sharing: BAM Therapy classes and courses might include reflection on evidence-based psychological theory and information. An in-depth understanding of the human mind and the research evidence that has shown us what supports healthy psychological wellbeing is integrated within yoga courses. The specialist knowledge I have gained from clinical psychology is offered within yoga classes and then linked with the yoga practices we explore so that we start to experience how we might put psychological theory into action in everyday life.



Language, choice, and framing: the way in which yoga practices and tools are offered is carefully considered. I pay close attention to the words and phrases I use in the classes and I consider how ideas and techniques are framed. The language is invitational meaning that individual choice, autonomy, and ownership of your personal journey and yoga experience is encouraged and supported. I will always remind the yoga group that I am offering practices and techniques to you and that you can decide not to do something if it doesn’t feel right – opting out is always an option.


Psychological therapy skills and techniques: BAM Therapy classes and courses incorporate a blend of skills and practices drawn from evidence-based psychological therapy models including compassion-focused therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy, and dialectical behaviour therapy. The courses and workshops I offer draw heavily from yoga-CBT theory and techniques, and all of my classes and courses have foundations within trauma-informed yoga perspectives on growth, healing, change, and safety. Some examples of the therapeutic skills incorporated into classes and courses includes imagery work, interventions that work with thoughts and beliefs, visualisation techniques, mindfulness-based interventions, defusing from unhelpful thinking, and self-study. All of these psychology-enhanced practices help us develop greater self-awareness so that we can then consider the possibility of change and growth. When these skills are offered in classes, there is an emphasis on reflecting on our responses to the different practices so that we start to get more familiar with what is helpful to us (especially because we are all different, what works well for one person might be less helpful to another).


Trauma-informed yoga tools: another important area that makes yoga classes with BAM Therapy different is the potential for inclusion of trauma-informed yoga practices. This draws upon all of what has been mentioned so far: cognitive intentions, internal experience focus, psychology information sharing, careful use of language, individual choice and autonomy, and psychology-informed practices. The trauma-informed yoga practices offer us the space to safely (re)connect with the body and learn how to become better friends with our physical self, physiology, and emotional patterns. These tools support healthy self-regulation and self-healing as we become more resilient and able to soothe the nervous system (more on this later in a future blog!).


I’m hoping that this has given a clear sense of what you can expect from a yoga class or course with me, and the ways in which my psychology-informed yoga is a little bit different to standard yoga. I aim to offer therapeutic yoga that is focused on our mental health, psychological wellness, nervous system regulation, emotional wellbeing, and self-regulation. The process of what I offer through BAM Therapy is evolving and not fixed; I actively encourage feedback, suggestions, and ideas. If there is something you would like to see more of or less of in your yoga class, then please do let me know!


I hope to welcome you to a yoga class soon and to support you to meet yourself where you are. You are welcome to join me exactly as you are right here and now, today.


 

Kayleigh offers private yoga classes and courses in Exeter and online including trauma-informed yoga and yoga-CBT to individuals, groups, staff teams, and businesses. If you would like to explore any of these options, get in touch here.


BAM Therapy offers public classes, courses, and workshops in Exeter. Please follow the links below to find out more:


Thanks for reading!


 

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