• Sara Pestana

Reflection: Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy with Ayano Masty

by Sara Pestana


Today we write and reflect about our webinar with the inspiring and absolutely engaging Ayano Masty, who has so much to share regarding the benefits of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy! Ayano is a yoga therapist certified through International Association of Yoga Therapy (C-IAYT) and by Phoenix Rising School of Yoga Therapy (PRYT). She is also a yoga teacher trained through Kripalu and Phoenix Rising with experience of Yin Yoga.


She is passionate about facilitating space for people to explore their inner wisdom and truth through embodied awareness.

“I am interested in the process of healing because I also need to engage in the process of healing myself”

With this enriching webinar, Ayano offered us a starting point to start diving deeper into the connection with ourselves.

“I have always been fascinated with all the different approaches and modalities that support our healing.

I believe both psychotherapeutic and somatic approaches are equally important in the process of healing,

and yoga therapy can be a great complement to psychotherapeutic approaches.”

Before we start, we would like to highlight that there are several differences between Yoga Classes and Yoga Therapy, for example:

Yoga Class

  1. Instruction in yoga techniques, often focused in postures and breaths

  2. General practice, often fitness oriented in the estern culture

  3. Limited individual adaptations unless it is a private session

  4. Community practice

Yoga Therapy

  1. Individual assessment / formal intake is important

  2. Addresses specific physical & mental concerns and intentions

  3. Practice personalised and adapted to the particular client

  4. Empowerment toward self healing

  5. Therapeutic focus

“Yoga Therapy is the professional application of the principles and practices of yoga to promote health and well-being

within a therapeutic relationship that includes personalised assessment,

goal setting, lifestyle management, and yoga practices for individuals or small groups.”


- International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT)

So what is Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy ?

This type of Yoga Therapy invites you to explore your body with gentle movements to draw your awareness towards your body, the inner part of yourself. During the webinar, Ayano has also invited us to listen to our bodies and feel what was appropriate for each person. It was incredibly interesting how the same simple movement exercises generated different, and sometimes opposite reactions in the listeners. Sensations of warmness and coldness were experienced by different people and awareness about “hidden” pains or discomforts also emerged from these guided exercises.

When Ayano started her own journey of healing, she started listening to the signs her body was showing and “realised there was something in my body I wasn’t aware of before. There were quite intense sensations that showed up and intense reactions that I didn’t understand”.

Our body stores and remembers trauma.

This type of awareness and understanding of our body’s needs is only possible in a safe place. It is also useful to have a therapist because when we try to figure it out on our own, we are automatically inside our own heads, which distracts us from listening to our body. Ayano strongly emphasises that for her, “this awareness was only possible in a safe container. I trusted my yoga therapist and I trusted he could create that space for me.”

“Feeling is connected to being and not doing. We can’t do the feeling.”

Trauma is very often associated with PTSD and extremely traumatic events, so it is not always easy for us to understand or acknowledge our own traumas, but Ayano presents us with a definition of trauma that shifts the focus from the event itself and leads us to connect to our present experience:

“Trauma is what happens inside of you as a result of traumatic events.

It is a loss of connection to oneself and to the present moment.”


- Dr. Gabor Maté

From this perspective, trauma is not the event itself but the disconnection that happens as the result. So with this awareness, how do you think a healing from trauma looks like? According to Ayano, “Healing happens when we can reconnect to our own self, our body, our breath, our emotions and our essence.”

So Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy offers an opportunity to reconnect to ourselves.

“Yoga is a practice to reconnect to our own essence.”

When we talk about Yoga in general, we normally think about posture, maybe meditation or breathing as well, but Ayano teaches us about the eight limbs of yoga. These limbs are part of the foundational element that supports the practice of yoga, they work as a guideline and a path to live a purposeful life aligned with yogic philosophies.

“It is also a perspective to understand yoga as a process.

A process which is a movement from the external world to the internal world.

And this shift transforms us and allows us to connect back to ourselves.”

The Eight Limbs of Yoga Yama - Associated with external restraints. Refers to the ethical standards to live in this world with integrity.' Niyama - Related to internal observances, is like a guideline to self discipline (ahimsa - non-harming) Asana - engagement of the body. Posture. Pranayama - engagement of breath - different methods intend to bring a shift in your body, it is important to become aware that breath is a crucial piece of our physical, mental and emotional experiences. Pratyahara - the shift of external practice to internal practice, that leads to the next limbs Dharana - concentration Dhyana - meditation Samadhi - state of equilibrium and bliss.

“Yoga is not just postures. Just breath or meditation.

It incorporates the ethical lifestyle, breathing and body engagement and inner practices and

they all intertwine and give rise to this state of equilibrium and ultimately to connecting to ourselves.”

When talking about listening to our body we immediately think about our physical body, what we feel in our gut or skin, but we are more than just our physical body. According to the “Pancha Kosha” model, or 5 sheath model of yogic approach, we have five bodies!

1. Psychical Body - what we eat becomes our body.

2. Energy Body - breath as part of our body.

3. Mind / Emotional Body - process of thoughts and emotions that happens inside of us.

4. Intellectual Body - witness consciousness - inner knowing and inner wisdom.

5. Bliss Body - where we are in a place of equilibrium.

This is our true nature, according to Yogic philosophy, the “unchanging nature of ourselves”.

“This reminds me that bliss and joy are actually part of our nature. And isn’t that beautiful?”

When we consider trauma as disconnection from self, disconnection may happen in all levels of these sheaths.

1. We may be deeply disconnected from the physical body, be numb from sensations or pains.

2. If we are disconnected from our energy body, it may show up in our breath. Those with trauma may have deregulated breathing patterns or may not be able to breathe deeply, for example.

3. If we disconnect from our mind, we may not be able to connect to the strong emotions, therefore suppress them.

4. and 5. If we disconnect from our inner wisdom or bliss, it will be difficult to trust the flow and process of the world and it will be difficult to feel the joy within us.

Practice of Yoga is not a quick fix, but if we start exploring we may start being aware of what’s happening in each sheath.

“Once an awareness comes through the body it has already started to happen in life.

It is not just a thought or feeling. It is an experience of a different way of being.

And that is transformation.”


- Michael Lee, Founder of PRYT

The model of the range of our experience by Norman Farb shows in a very catchy way, how our mind is normally either in the past or the future. There’s always so much going on, so much to think about, that is difficult to just be focused in the present moment. When someone is preoccupied or alert, it’s very difficult to engage in the present moment awareness. So Ayano leaves us with some tips for personal practice:

- Get to know your body.

- Be curious, invite a sense of wonder.

- Come up with an intention for the day.

- Notice moments of choice. - Be ok with being in the grayness.

- Notice doing. Notice Being.

- Be compassionate to yourself.



If this has inspired you, visit Ayano's website http://www.ayanoatsumi.com !

Ayano’s own story of such experience can be found on PRYT's official website - https://pryt.com/.../become-a.../images-and-transformation/


You can learn more here:

https://pryt.com/

https://www.iayt.org/

https://kripalu.org/schools

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