Yogi, Heal Thyself

Via Ruthie Streiter's Online Video Library

Ruthie Streiter is an enthusiastic woman on a mission to revolutionize how we heal ourselves with yoga.

After thousands of hours of giving Rolfing body-work sessions to hundreds of clients who came to her for problems, Streiter saw clear “archetypal tendencies.” She would regularly provide therapeutic yoga sequences for her clients to practice on their own time, meant to target the imbalances they were relying on her to take care of.

Streiter firmly believes that a proactive approach and self-education are integral to healing. But she was spending countless hours writing up asana prescriptions for her clients. Her response to this overwhelming demand? She created the Decompression Project Video Library, an online site whose purpose is “fundamentally pragmatic.”

The videos that you watch once you have joined the site are asanas to help heal everything from neck and sciatica pain to kyphosis and lordosis. The library’s diagnostic tools guide the individual yoga practitioner to evaluate personal patterns and reconnect with “inner technology.” These videos force the consumer not just to consume, but to engage with their own tendencies and to select appropriate, effective medicine from a wide menu – over 200 videos. The asanas are simple enough and the voice-over is straightforward and clear so that the practitioner does not have to deal with—or be deterred by—overwhelming jargon.

Streiter divides what’s out there currently into “super-duper yoga guru” videos, which deliver a single sequence, but if done every day, don’t fill our need for structural variety, and the streamed “thematic by buzz word” videos, for core strength or flexibility. Most of these videos, she observes, “target what you are going to work on, but not why.”

Streiter’s videos, by contrast, are modular and so can be arranged for individual prescription and emphasis. The library’s toolbox of yoga for structural-integration includes over “300 coherent, singular exercises,” adaptable to a student’s changing needs and shifting body patterns.

Streiter filmed all of the asanas with her crew in a single, rigorous and chaotic three days of devotion in India (when is the last time you did 300 asanas in a row?). She is proud of her product, which, like the nadis, yield infinite sequences to design. “The videos—15, 30 or 45 minutes each—make an appropriate home practice attainable, efficient, effective for everyone,” she explains.

Mike, 38 and a trader, was the perfect candidate for Streiter’s video library. When he found her, he had already been to seen a litany of doctors and specialists for persistent lumbar and thoracic pain and spasms. He was discouraged because he had found no clear path for treatment in western medicine, and so no way out of what he calls “the brutal cycle of physical pain leading to mental pain.”

Practicing within the DP protocol, Mike began to feel the possibility of being able to live his life unrestricted by the corset of an unpredictable lumbar spine and the “smallness and constriction of self” it engenders. “I’ve realized, I’m tall!” Mike confirmed. “I tended to get small when stressed.”

Using the library, Mike learned to practice intelligently, safely and regularly in his own home—three key considerations that determine the success of a personal yoga practice. Emerging from the murky thinking and compromised activities that pain or injury cause, people like Mike can finally see a workable path—an individual path—towards the big prize of yoga: the unknown. Streiter asks, “Do we really know our resilient optimal selves? Are we going to settle for less?”

Setting up a routine with the videos, the student can meet his or her needs and do something beneficial for the body as it is right now. “Like all true yoga,” Streiter says, “this requires discipline!” But using the variety of videos in the Decompression Project library, practitioners have a chance to develop a self-care rituals that opens them up to Streiter’s optimal outcome: “a more expansive, comfortable experience of their own bodies and lives.”

--Sara Nolan, to read more of Sara's work, click here.

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