Nydia’s Yoga Therapy: Where Physical Therapy Meets Yoga

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Nydia’s Yoga Therapy: Where Physical Therapy Meets Yoga

Nydia Tijerina Darby uniquely combines her background as a Doctor of Physical Therapy and her years of studying movement and breath with her experience as a yoga instructor to create a holistic therapeutic practice called Nydia’s Yoga Therapy: “where physical therapy meets yoga”.

It’s not often (or ever) for these two disciplines to be paired together. For Nydia, this was a natural result of being curious about a number of critical events in her life as well as following two parallel passions at once.

As a lifelong lover of health and fitness, she taught fitness classes and worked with clients while pursuing her higher education in physical therapy. This uniquely placed her in two different scenarios, regarding people’s health and mindset. In the fitness world, she met healthy people (including some who were thriving in their 90s), where she noticed these three common attributes: they each had a positive outlook; they moved everyday and they had a belief in a higher power. She saw this over and over again. Conversely, in the physical therapy world, she met some not so healthy people, where these attributes (especially all three in conjunction) were often missing.

In desiring to personally achieve long-term health and well being, Nydia began reading about yoga, pilates, tai chi, qui chong and eastern medicine looking for something that incorporated all three attributes. Her field of interest narrowed as yoga became the frontrunner. Being a bit rebellious in her approach, she was self-taught and intentionally made adjustments to the poses based on her understanding of the body regarding what would functionally work best for people who still needed to build a strong, solid foundation (i.e. - people like her physical therapy clients who were suffering from acute and/or chronic pain).

Another insight between these two disciplines occurred when she began her work as a physical therapist. As a manually trained physical therapist, she has the ability to manipulate a patient’s body similar to a chiropractor, which can be quite demanding on her own body. Couple this with also being hyper-flexible (where her joints are less stable) and the problem becomes compounded. However, while on her yoga mat, gently moving in and out of positions and simultaneously regulating her breath, she realized she could teach her patients to do the same. Not only would this reduce the demand on her own body, but it would also teach them how to utilize moving in out of these positions as home-based physical therapy. It would allow her to empower her patients to help themselves without having to come to an appointment!

The ability to regulate breath also serves as a foundational element of Nydia’s Yoga Therapy. Early in life, she was exposed to significant experiences that taught her the power of knowing how to regulate our breath. One occurred when she found herself in the deep end of a pool unable to swim. Somehow she had the foresight not to panic and, in staying calm, developed a plan to jump her way back to the shallow end inhaling a breath at the top of each breath.

In junior high, she recalls banking on her youth to run just as easily as the adults exercising at the school track, only to find herself out of breath while they jogged steadfastly passed her. Not one to be caught at the mercy of perceived limits, she figured out the difference in performance was due to not being able to properly regulate her breath. She quickly reaped the results of that understanding the next time she found herself running at the track!

And years later, while on a scuba diving vacation with her husband, she recognized the importance of regulating breath under much more dire circumstances. Another woman on the trip panicked and began to lose control of her breath such that she was about to hyperventilate. Recognizing the circumstances of being on a boat far from medical help, Nydia instinctively rushed over to the woman and sat in her lap holding her heart-to-heart, giving her a chance to mimic Nydia’s heart rate while simultaneously coaching her to regulate her breath. All of which succeeded in stabilizing the woman’s breath in a normal rhythm.

These potent experiences around breath combined with her background as a Doctor of Physical Therapy, years of studying movement and the insights she gained from her yoga practice all serve as a foundation for Nydia’s Yoga Therapy: “where physical therapy meets yoga”.

Through her unique practice, Nydia also serves as an ambassador for yoga in the San Antonio medical community, where she’s able to dispel misconceptions about yoga and promote safe and effective yoga instruction and practices that emphasize breath centered awareness, functional mobility and stability, use of proper technique and balanced spinal/joint alignment modified to meet the needs of the individual, whether they practice alone or in a group setting. She also mentors and trains her team of yoga instructors and participates in yoga research so the healing and transformational approach that is Nydia’s Yoga Therapy can positively impact as many lives as possible.

Woman stretching and touching her toes

Nydia suggests incorporating these healthy habits into your everyday to aid in over all mental and physical health:

  1. Take a moment every day to stop, notice how you’re breathing (or if you’re holding your breath) and focus on breathing through your nose with your mouth closed. Inhale gently and then exhale soft and slow. Repeat often throughout your day to encourage your body’s natural relaxation and healing response.
  2. Figure out what brings you joy and take part in this as often as you can.
  3. Say “I love you” often.
  4. Be present in your every day and have faith.
  5. Ask good questions and, then, take time to really listen.
  6. Get enough rest and do some form of movement/exercise every day.
  7. Be okay with saying “I don’t know.”
  8. Be truthful. It makes life easier in the long term.
  9. Be grateful for the blessings that surround you.
  10. Take great care of yourself so you love and serve with your whole heart, mind & body.

Listen to Nydia's podcast interview, learn more about her as our Wellness Partner here or visit Nydia's Yoga Therapy Website to learn more!