It’s always an honour to welcome medical professionals and healthcare workers into a yoga class. There’s a powerful sense of conventional and alternative worlds overlapping in pursuit of shared goals of wellness and happiness. And it’s a reminder of that ancient proverb ‘physician heal thyself’ at work in the hearts of those charged with helping others.
Summeara Bedford has been a registered osteopath since she graduated with honours from Oxford Brookes University in 2007. Her postgraduate studies at the British School of Osteopathy makes her one of very few osteopaths certified in Specialist Paediatric Osteopathic practice. She now runs a very busy multi-disciplinary clinic in Oxford with her husband Tom. With over twenty years of personal yoga practice, she has a profound appreciation of the importance of self-care, and in particular yoga, to health.
She believes that many people are currently feeling “disconnected from their bodies, not listening to what it is telling them”. As a result, her osteopathy clinic is seeing many more persistent issues or “niggles that have been ignored”. Instead of realising that pain is the body’s way of signalling that it isn’t coping, patients often push on, ignoring signs and allowing issues to move deeper into the body. “My job is to educate on what is possible, get people moving and help them tune in to issues before they take hold”.
This is one of the reasons Summeara promotes yoga to many of her patients. “It trains your own awareness of the body in a way that nothing else can quite match”. Comparing yoga to Pilates, she explains that Pilates is a “prescription for re-training specific muscles, building core strength” whereas “yoga is a complete system of mind/body connection and health. It fine tunes your perception of what is happening in your own body and builds trust in how you personally need to respond”.
Patients constantly provide evidence of regular yoga maintaining health and fitness. “I often have people tell me how brilliant yoga has been in helping them recover – only to see them back in clinic many months later when they have let their yoga practice slide. They only realise the connection when I ask them when they stopped doing yoga!”.
It is no surprise that Summeara elects dynamic ‘Warrior’ sequences and flows involving ‘Cobra’ as some of her favourite yoga poses. This softly spoken healer is a force to be reckoned with, for sure.
Our Tales from the Mat come from the wonderful Joy Le Fevre, yoga teacher and founder of yogidup.com.