The yoga therapy partnership: 50-50
By Monica Le Baron
In 2018, I was honored to do a practicum in yoga therapy and integrated positional therapy at La Casa de las Abuelitas, a women’s shelter in El Paso, Texas. Working there was challenging yet rewarding at all levels of my being. I learned four significant lessons that I return to over and over—lessons you could apply to your daily life, even if you’re not a yoga therapist.
1. There’s always something else
Being unable to sleep or having pain is just the tip of the iceberg. It usually indicates that something else is going on. Rosa,* the most dedicated client in my practice, came into our session to work on her right knee pain. As the session progressed, more things started to come up that she had been too shy to share or perhaps didn’t think were relevant at the moment.
This was the case for many of the other Abuelitas, or “Grannies.” Chronic pain in all the layers of their being was so normal that they had gotten used to living with it. I realized that there’s always something else that clients aren’t expressing. I noticed a lot of guilt, shame, or trauma they weren’t aware of, and it kept them from living a pain-free life.
I see this tendency in current clients as well, especially in solo entrepreneurs and mothers. As a yoga therapist, this lesson helps me to stay aware and reminds me of what my mentor, Lee Albert, would recommend: “Give clients a little of what they want and a lot of what they need.”
2. Nobody will do the work for you, AKA the 50-50 partnership
After a month of working in the shelter twice a week, I left for Europe for a month. When I returned, I didn’t recognize Rosa. She looked happy, radiant, and 10 years younger. I saw that she had been practicing the wellness plan I suggested in week 1—and encouraging the other Abuelitas to do the same. She reported that she slept better, and her knee pain lessened.
Healing is possible, but nobody will do the work for you. That’s why I implemented the 50%-50% partnership. It is hard to see positive results if you don’t do your own work, no matter how expert your therapist or teacher is.
3. Keep it simple
When I met Elena for the first time, she cautiously made her way to me using her walker for our 60-minute session. After introducing myself, we started with an intake form, talked about her health struggles, and set a primary goal for our sessions.
Elena was, at the time, the most challenging case I had because I was still learning to apply all of the tools of yoga therapy and it was difficult for her to practice most physical poses. I was nervous, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to help her. Here’s where I learned the importance of keeping things simple. I noticed that the simpler the tools were, the easier it was for clients to follow them and blend them into their daily lives, even if they lived in a shared bedroom in a shelter.
Although Elena dealt with a lot of physical pain, mainly in her knee and hips, she would always have a radiant smile and a positive attitude. Simple tools practiced daily turned into long-term results. Elena made massive progress in the 3 months we worked together. She was able to walk faster and learned to manage her pain without using medicine.
Elena’s words have stayed with me and inspire me to keep doing the work that I do: My sessions, she said, “helped me realize that I can control my pain differently. Learning a different modality to manage my pain without using medicine was great.”
4. You can’t help people who don’t want your help
A tough, yet funny and kind client who I will call Maria, was resistant to attending our session. She was encouraged by the staff to take part and was promised a reward afterward if she did.
In yoga therapy training, I learned to meet people where they are and to start with simple tools that won’t overwhelm the client. With this in mind, we first worked with her nervous system to get her out of fight-flight mode, finish the stress cycle, and establish trust.
Maria taught me the biggest lesson I learned in my practicum: I couldn’t help people if they didn’t want help. Although she left our sessions very relaxed, Maria didn’t want to be there, so she didn’t return for our third session.
Now, when I meet people who ask me whether I can help a family member to get better sleep, I tell them if their loved one wants my support, I’m happy to help them. If not, unfortunately I can’t.
Learning to be patient and listen, keep things simple, and meet people where they are–even if that means not meeting–are ways of being present to what is happening in the moment. This is good medicine for most people, and is also a foundational approach to practicing yoga therapy.
Monica Le Baron, C-IAYT, is a sleep coach who specializes in helping women with sleep disorders get a good night’s rest. Monica’s expertise has been featured on Insight Timer, Telemundo, and more.
*Clients’ names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Thank you for sharing your story and insights. I particularly resonate with the idea of keeping the tools simple so it can be blended into daily life.
Yes! keep it simple!!! =) Sending love my friend.
Me gusta este artículo. Y Estoy muy agradecida por ese 50% que compartes con nosotras y por que compartes tu esencia con nosotras en beneficio de mejorar nuestra salud y calidad de vida. ??
Yes! We have to meet people where they are, and/or let them go when they aren’t interested in help or ready for change. We are all on our own path and seek help when we are ready. Thanks for your insight, Monica!
I was very fortunate to take a few of Monica’s yoga clases and I loved every thing about her, from the calmness and realaxing feeling of her voice to the energy I had after her morning class I highly recomend her clases, specially in her área of expertise of sleep, just a few of her sugestions has made a big difrence in my life Style.
Happy to hear this, Leslie. Remember is a 50/50 partnership. Be well.
Es muy admirable el trabajo que realizas, es de gran ayuda para muchas personas la dedicación que pones en todo lo que haces!
Muchas gracias, Marisa! It’s a 50/50 partnership!! =) Un abrazo
What inspiring stories. I always find it amazing that it is a two-way street — we are always learning from each other.
We definitely are, Kim.
En estos últimos años, creo que ha incrementado los problemas para dormir y cada vez son más las personas con este problema y me alegra profundamente que hayan estas herramientas de ayuda como la terapia de yoga , y sobre todo que una excelente persona dedicada a su trabajo y que ama lo que hace lo aga posible
No todos estamos en el mismo nivel de conciencia pero me encanta que seas inspiracion de muchas personas para buscar una vida sin dolor y en balance. Me encanta que hayas encontrado tu pasion 🙂
Gracias amiga, te quiero mucho. =)
So true!, sometimes we learn something and try to spread the message try to teach end up learning more! so nice and kind from you to share with us your healing experiences. Feel kind of bad for Maria attitude, but sometimes people who think they don’t need help is the one whom needs it the most.
so true, but you can’t help people if they don’t want your help or are ready to receive it! Thanks for your kind comment.
I am Happy to have attended to Monica’s classes, sleep is crucial for health and yes you need to work on you, no matter how many tools you receive if you are not willing to put the work.
Love this piece. It is a 50-50 partnership! So true! Love this ??
The passion you have for your profession is admirable. Thank you for sharing these stories and amazing tips. I will definitely be putting them into practice.
Thank you for your kind words, Terah.
It means the world to me. =)
Wow! It’s so amazing that you were able to impact the Abuelitas and they had a big impact on you in return. I was thinking about your first lesson and it seems to apply to just about anyone in life. There is always something else that others are dealing with that they don’t care to share. That’s why being a good person goes so far. You never know what others are going through. Great work Monica!
Super interesting and useful. Our bodies and minds need to rest, and rest well. Thank you, Monica, for spreading this knowledge with us so we can put it into practice. We can notice how much love you put in your work, and most importantly it’s that you really enjoy it! It’s your passion. So, the result of what you offer people is pure quality. 🙂
YES! I really enjoy my work and love being a yoga therapist. It’s such a beautiful profession and the best part is that I get to use the tools as well in my healing journey.
Was joyful to read how Yoga can have such impact in the way you feel and sleep, and can overall change your life for the better. Monica is such a great yoga/sleep coach, recently she help me a lot. I was suffering from depression and her sessions help out so much, I love the way she understand your emotions and understands your needs.
I am so grateful for Monica and all of her loving presence. I was in Mexico on a wellness retreat and got to meet this lovely being in person. We were treated to doing yoga and having Monica as our instructor.
Her calming presence, melodic voice and gentle instruction helped a couple of people drift off to sleep during yoga nidra. I, myself, too drifted into a sleep state and was so relaxed afterwards. I am so grateful for you Monica and this important work that you are doing! You are such an earth angel and gift on this planet! Thank you for all that you do!
Thank you so much for your kind words, Jenny.
It was also a pleasure to meet you and be able to share my gifts with you and the rest of the group in our group at TEO.
Awesome job! Sleep is so essential. Love it.
Great Article! 10/10
A beautiful way to help our bodies align its self to help it heal! Thank you, Monica for your help in teaching me technics to keep my skeleton system in good healty! Blessings, Tia Rosa
Excelente trabajo, eres la mejor para ayudar a dormir ?
I’m so happy that you joined my classes, tia. And that you got the relief your body was craving. Avocado hugs,
Muy buen artículo y muy inspirador! Gracias por compartirnos tus experiencias.
Inspiring, love reading these articles and hearing about how you are making an impact.
Thank you for sharing your insights. Reading about your experiences made me realized that no matter how much you want to help someone, you wont be able to do it if they aren’t ready or want to be helped, and it is ok. The best way to help them is being willing to be helped and strive for change, growth, and balance.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn, especially as a women. I just wanted to help and see others flourish.
Loved this article so well written and insightful ??????
Loved reading this article and the 4 lessons Monica mentions ring so true. It is so important to understand that we cannot save anyone who does not want to be saved, yet, how rewarding is it to hear the call from someone who is ready for that change and is looking for coaching. Monica does great at hearing that call and has a calm, practical and sincere approach for guiding you through a yoga practice. She is great and dedicated at what she does.
Thank you, Angie. Sending love beautiful.
Thanks for sharing your experience!!! I absolutely agree with the four statements you described in the article, specially number two. I have tried so many classes, remedies; taken different supplements and watched many videos to improve my health and sleep habits but nothing has really helped. I am pretty sure they all work but I was not giving my 50%. I personally think Monica is not only great therapist but also a wonderful coach and a sensitive person. She thought me great postures techniques and attended to a couple of her yoga classes. I need to get back in business and join her classes, keep it simple so I can have continuity and give myself the time I deserve so I do not too give up so quickly. The abuelitas are a great inspiration!!! Thanks for sharing.
Ary, I’m so glad that these beautiful ladies inspired you. Sending love and light!
Loved reading this. I couldn’t agree more with Monica. There is only so much we can do to help those around us and the truth is that the best way to make a change in the world is to make a change in ourselves. I love that she wholeheartedly believes in this approach. Looking forward to working more with her.
right??? is hard to help anyone, is they don’t want are help, plus we are not letting learn the primordial lesson of asking for help.
Sending love! =)
Absolutely love her classes they leave feeling relaxed and energized at the same time.
Loved reading this! I enjoy how easy it is to incorporate this into our own lives
I love your article Monica, love your passion and willingness to help people.
I can tell you are in tune with your clients and that is so beautiful and important to be able to help them.
Specially if they want your help, I love the simple steps because that is the best way that people find it easier to follow a program.
Simplicity is the best tool. Because without actions, knowledge is nothing.
This had so much knowledge about yoga therapy and insight into healing your body. Amazing work!
Excellent and insightful article. The 50-50 partnership is a wonderful concept to have in mind both from the patient and therapist point of view. Thanks for sharing your expertise Monica.
Definitely the best tool I’ve learned to relax and be able to sleep better has been with you Monica, thanks for all the support, I hope and more people give themselves the opportunity to give themselves this for their lives. If you are fine, everyone around you will be better. Nothing can destroy a person but their own thoughts.
I’m so honored that I got to work with you and to see you glow and enjoy your life to the fullest. Avocado hugs!
Number 4 resonated a ton for me. Such a well-written piece!
Great article. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge and accentuating them with real world cases which you’ve personally experienced. Sharing the knowledge and giving examples makes it easy, for us who are learning to, to relate. Points 2 and 4 particularly spoke to me. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want your help and additionally, those that do want the help need to put in the effort. Once again, great article.
Hermosa, me siento tan orgullosa de ti y de cómo has ido creciendo y encontrando tu camino. Admiro tu dedicación en ayudar a las personas a encontrar su paz interior.
Excelente articulo!Muchas felicidades! Te deseo éxito en todo lo que emprendas.
Abrazos y Bendiciones
Gracias Gaby! Tu has sido parte de los angelitos en mi camino para llegar a donde estoy. Un abrazo grande! =)
Que bonita historia y q bonita forma de ver la vida. Tener una buena vibra y ser buenas personas es lo mejor q podemos dar a este mundo.
Feliz de leer tus hermosas experiencias y bellos aprendizajes, verte disfrutar, retar te y aprender para avanzar???
Gran amiga, guía y maestra.
Abrazos y besos Mónica ?? y a seguir otorgando de la luz y paz que transmites???
Los signos?? Yo no los puse..
Creo q son las caras y corazones que quise agregar jajaja
Great article – and great reminders!
I love it it is super insightful about how you run your business
Thanks for this story, very helpful to learn from your experiences.
Muy interesante tus historias, todo lo que haz logrado y avanzado, sigue así siempre para adelante demostrando todo lo que puedes hacer y lograr. Saludos
Que lindo artículo, que hermosa manera de ayudar a la gente. Es muy admirable tu compromiso en compartir tu conocimiento 🙂
Beautiful! This is lovely work you’re doing. As my mentor Kaya Mindlin quotes from her guru, “start in a simple way, an easy way, and it will take you all the way “
Thank you for sharing your mentor’s wisdom and for your kind words.
Beautiful insights as always Monica! And I miss hearing your beautiful voice…had to settle with imagining your voice as I read along, ha. Four really great life lessons that I’ve also been learning along the way. Big keys to freedom & clarity here.??
You’re so sweet, Jen.
You can always find me on Insight Timer.
This article couldn’t have come at a more perfect time! I’m currently at Kripalu assisting foundations 2 in Yoga Therapy and these things are being discussed! Please let me know if I can share it with the students.
I love how you simplified the message that can’t be more true – a persons pain may not always just be physical and we as Yoga Therapists cannot help people who don’t want it or won’t help themselves.
I love your inspiration Monica and am very blessed to know you as a colleague & a friend.
Please do share, Jacqueline!
Thank you for sharing it with future yoga therapists, Jacq. I’m so honored to be able to help and inspire others. Big hug, my friend.
Great article. Thanks for your insights Monica!
That’s so true, chronic pain is definetly a layered thing – like an onion. And you need to work in partnership to overcome it. As a business owner helping others listen to their clients to help more people I am all for open collaboration. An Interesting article thank you Monica.
yes! I always tell my clients that life is like an onion, some layers make you cry others don’t!
Thank you for sharing Monica . Its so great that you give us the knowledge and self awareness of taking care . Most important thing , keeping the tools simple so it can be used into daily life
I have attended several of Monica‘s yoga classes and I love them so much, they are definitely very helpful for creating balance and over all well being! She is very good and I love how passionate she is about what she does. ???
Lovely article! The process of cocreating is so crucial.<3
Thank you, my friend. And thank you for the work you do as a yoga therapist as well Avocado hugs!