“Yoga: Healing for the Mind and Body” – with Dr. Trella Allen

In the first episode of Yoga Week, Dr. Fox welcomes Dr. Trella Allen, a yoga teacher and physical therapist. Dr. Allen explains how she incorporates yoga into physical therapy and the benefits, both physical and mental, of the practice.

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Welcome to Yoga Week! Dr. Fox explains that he selected this subject not only because he practices and loves yoga himself, but because Healthful Woman is all about overall health, and yoga can be a part of that for anyone.

In the first episode in this miniseries, Dr. Trella Allen describes her practice as a yoga teacher and physical therapist. Dr. Allen has practiced yoga for about 12 years, and taught for a little over 10. She says that “yoga completely transformed my life.”

Yoga Training and Physical Therapy Education

Dr. Allen explains that she came to yoga because “I had a hard time in my mid-twenties where I wasn’t doing much movement at all,” and that she initially started taking yoga classes to lose weight. She found that class extremely challenging, but loved it right away. She says “the first shavasana, I felt freedom that I hadn’t felt in a long time.” She also began to notice physical and mental changes within months.

Dr. Allen then went on to complete over 1,000 hours of yoga teacher training, studying under Raji Thron, Nikki Costello, and Mata Ezraty. After completing yoga training, she explains that “I have a huge thirst for knowledge, and I wanted to go beyond what a normal yoga certification offered. I wanted to understand, physiologically, what yoga did.” She went to Columbia University to earn a master’s degree in applied physiology, and later, a doctorate of physical therapy. She explains that this deeper understanding of anatomy and physiology helps her be a better yoga teacher, and that she often uses yoga shapes or poses to help physical therapy patients.

Dr. Trella Allen’s Yoga Practice

Dr. Allen explains her yoga practice as “vigorous vinyasa,” and says that she is very focused on alignment. In addition, she says that “I like to do a lot of fun things, because I believe we should always remain childlike,” and incorporates skills like headstands or handstands into her practice.

Dr. Allen also says that while many people find a lot of mental clarity while doing yoga, there are always differing experiences. She explains that “for some people, it takes time to work through things in their body before they get to feel that pure bliss,” and that “our brain is so busy,” but focusing on the movements while doing yoga can give the mind a break. Dr. Fox adds that in terms of the physical and mental effects of yoga, “no matter which reason people start out, they end up overlapping.”

Starting Out with Yoga

Dr. Allen believes that people should try yoga because “your body can do more than you ever imagined,” and that it has definite physical benefits while calming the mind at the same time. She says that “with the right teacher, anyone can benefit from yoga,” including those with disabilities, and explains that the teacher makes a big difference, and if you previously did not like yoga, you may still find the right fit. She urges people to look for studios with beginners’ workshops, which typically consist of 3-5 classes where you can learn the basics before joining a bigger class. Dr. Fox adds that going into your first yoga class, “you can be terrible at all of it, and nobody cares,” and there is no reason to feel self-conscious as a beginner.