KYB Interviews: Julia O’Shea – Respiratory Therapist and Kaiut Yoga Teacher
Hi everybody this is Kristin Savory with Kaiut Yoga boulder and I am here today with a very special guest. Julia O Shea, Hi Julia.
It’s so nice to have you here. Julia is a is a yoga teacher, Julia how long have you been teaching now?
Just over a year.
Just over a year, but what I think is really interesting about Julia that a lot of people are going to want to hear more about is that Julia is a respiratory therapist at the University of Vermont and Because she’s using Kaiut Yoga in this kind of interesting medical complex she draws to her some pretty special students and has seen some pretty interesting results. So, without totally diving in towards the meat of the whole thing that I know everybody is looking forward to Julia I would love to hear a little bit more about you and your background and what brought you to Kaiut Yoga and what brought your interest in terms of respiratory therapy in the first place.
So I’ve been a respiratory therapist for 12 years now and initially I went into it because I was looking for something in healthcare that I guess it is what kind of led me to respiratory therapy with my younger brother. He had asthma and so I had worked in a hospital in different roles and I saw what the respiratory therapist did. And I just thought it was fascinating that this one profession could come into a very stressful situation and their role was to bring a sense of calm so that everybody else could get their job done because we’re managing people’s airways, they’re breathing. It’s usually a very high stress and so my job is to come in and kind of establish peace and let everyone know that the patient is gonna be fine so that they could do their job even better.
It’s so interesting to me. So your brother really led you to this field and I’m kind of wondering in the back of my mind here, in terms of your clientelle as a respiratory therapist are you dealing with all age groups from the young to the elderly or do you kind of focus more on one particular population?
Prior I was working inpatient so I used to work at the University of Colorado hospital. My work there was mixed population so anything from premature babies you know that were born at like 24 weeks to emergency room, various populations to elderly seal pd asthma lots of variety and one of the reasons I ended up in vermont was the opportunity to run the pulmonary rehab program here we came available and those jobs are kinda hard to find and the respiratory world so my husband and I just decided to go for it so now I’m on the wellness side of respiratory care so the population that I see the most is probably like the age range would be like mid 60 s and up mostly with Copd or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease I also get a mix of younger folks have cystic fibrosis, a disease called video pathak pulmonary fibrosis which is like a stiffening of the lungs, all sorts of stuff even Transplant patients people who had new lungs you know place inside of them things like that so it’s a good good variety of a pulmonary diagnosis and an interesting to me too that you’re working more now on the wellness wellness in terms of recovery or wellness in terms of prevention both really but definitely more on the prevention side so in pulmonary rehab for teaching people how to make lifestyle changes Exercise learning to breathe differently basically taking care of themselves that’s becoming less dependent on caregivers and things like that will Super cool so enter kaiut yoga right yeah so it was it’s interesting because in Colorado I’ve gone through lots of yoga teacher training so when I was in respiratory therapy school that I came across the concept of yoga being able to help people who have breathing problems and I wanted to explore that further so I went on to become certified in Kaiut yoga and I went through two trainings in that and which is wonderful because it really established a foundation of like what is yoga for me but really my goal is to be able to teach yoga to my patients and so finally I partnered with a good friend of mine at the University of Colorado hospital and we started teaching yoga to the pulmonary rehab patients and he was chair yoga I think I got on the floor one time but they are very nervous about it so we stayed mostly in the chair and it was It was great it was a great class I think I taught there for like two years but during that time I was looking for something else cuz I wasn’t teaching many asa to these patients I was kinda coming up with my own things that I would teach them in the chair but I knew that there was like something that had more therapeutic benefits that I could be offering and in my own style of yoga that I was practicing I was noticing that my own body was slowly becoming like injured in the way and it was Because at the time I was teaching I think like for various yoga classes three of them were big Nasa but they are more gentle and I noticed that my back was just just started to cause me a lot of problems and pain and I went through I went through like three different chiropractors I found out that I have a lot of rigidity in my lower spine and some scoliosis and so through the vanessa practice I was slowly pushing myself and back bends and various poses but not in a safe way so it was kind Like causing slow trauma on my own body so I actually ended up I stop my own personal practice because it hurt my hip was following my back all this stuff
One day I came across workshop with Francisco and boulder and I had heard about him from other yoga teachers and others more therapeutic in nature so I decided to go to the workshop and it was a a three day workshop and I’ll never forget The first day I walked in and I looked around at all the other students in the workshop and I would say probably eighty percent of the people there were like 60 and up, so right away I was like wow like this is amazing and this is where I belong I so I went to the workshop and coming from you know the medical background and really being fascinated with the physiology of yoga and stuff his words definitely spoke to my brain and kind of made Right from the beginning and they also spoke to my body and the poses really just in that three days like had such a dramatic impact on my spine and my hip that I walked out of there with relief that I hadn’t been able to get through massage chiropractic work all this stuff nothing I just in the way that you did and so I was lucky enough to connect with Sarah and Steven I’m older And I was very diligent about going to going to class with them and I love practicing with them and you know the the miracles started to happen and my body started to change and feel so much better.
Tight oh julia that’s so great so then you got Super inspired and then you decided to delve into the teacher training.
Not right away it’s actually the idea of being a kind of teacher I found it very intimidating the work is It’s so powerful and I thought wow this is nothing like the other types of yoga that I was teaching before and I remember I think I was talking to Sarah about it and I was like gosh it seems so farfetched to even conceive of me teaching kaiut yoga but in the back of my mind I thought alright that’s that’s something that I wanna do and I knew he was having another teacher trainings I think it was like a hot gifts at the time and then I was offered the job in vermont and so that kind of Oh my love your community yeah and I remember I was like well I’ll just find a coyote teacher in vermont and practice there and I was googling and at the time the only the website was the one from Brazil and so I remember like looking through that website I was like no there’s nothing here and then I was googling coyote teachers vermont can find anything and then I can’t remember who I talk to you I spoke to someone and I was like oh there aren’t any what am I gonna do so obviously we moved to vermont and things started to happen and I connected with the integrative health program at the University of vermont and we started working towards the direction of starting a yoga class for patients cuz that’s just always been my my drive and then I saw it was like I think it’s like six months before we actually started the class I saw that there are teacher trainings in Toronto and Toronto is only about seven hours from here driving yeah I was like this is meant to be and I remember I talked to my husband and I was like you know what should I do should I do this training And he was like you should absolutely do it and so I started down that path and came back and I was nervous obviously I think I reached out to you and the night community and and I thought well that I just fall back on teaching cheerio because I know people are comfortable sitting in a chair and the response I got was it was just amazing and and then I also knew I said no they need to you they don’t need chair yoga and I can offer to you in a chair if necessary but I really I need to stick to you know what my heart is telling me to do and so we went for it and I have the support and you know so back upstairs to you so you come back you come back to the University of vermont you’ve got this amazing training you have this kind of program in place right and and you know that first class how many people do you have in that first class the first class when we think back it was pretty full I I wanna say I had at least 10 or 12 people yeah 10 or 12 people and all these people A different spectrum with respiratory some tour some sort of respiratory compromise actually they are respiratory or some are but the way the class was built it was it was called yoga for chronic conditions so basically anybody I mean I had a handful of my pulmonary patients that came because they knew I was gonna be teaching it but I had the Comes through the the cancer foundation so they have a whole area dedicated towards supporting cancer patients and so there’s a lot of patients with various either stages of cancer or cancer survivors oh just a mix of populations that I you know I couldn’t even expect huh right right but everybody kind of coming in with kind of different things that are going on for them and it’s all kind of But they’re all practicing in the same room yeah yeah so we’re all so we actually practice out of a physical therapy clinic so in the back room they have a gym spirits soar like an exercise room so usually I guess I can fit like about 15 or 16 people in there yeah various various backgrounds you know every I have a lady who has Ms I have the various cancers cardiac issues the pulmonary patients lots of orthopedic stuff Pain is another big population and what’s what’s fascinating to me is we do like a little intake form just to kind of establish whether they’re what their goals are and things like that and I would say probably 90 to 95 percent of them have never done any yoga before I love it I love it yeah yeah and and it’s great because they’re being referred by their physical therapist being referred by their physicians you know there are P isaac you know health care providers Trust who are telling them you should go to this yoga class at the medical Center so right away it establishes that foundation of trust which is just amazing that’s great that’s great and julia so time wise to just kind of orient me around that how long have you been teaching these classes we started last November okay yeah yes so you have been through your first year right and I just wonder Not that you have to go into specific cases or anything like that but just kind of high level like like the group as a whole what sort of changes are you noticing at a high level for people winter what it what’s the feedback that you’re getting what are people saying it’s it’s been amazing to see and initially the changes were almost like too much for me to really even comprehend I remember talking to some of my other how you teach your friends and I was just like I know I know I’m just teaching the sequence but people are coming out of this with such dramatic improvements and they’re walking in their levels of pain and various like physical type relief that I I almost couldn’t believe it myself it was just so astonishing and so now I have like the core group that has been with me for a while I have one lady in particular that’s been with me since day one and she comes Every time she’s like absolutely dedicated and she has a mess and her Ms has progressed to the point where she has to use a cane to walk and she definitely has some balance issues she has neuropathy and her legs and feet so like numbness and tingling and pain and I’ve had a few workshops and she comes to my workshops and it’s been really great to be able to connect with her and the feedback that she’s given me is that she’s done a lot of yoga in the past various other types and this Yoga and particular the kai you has changed her body in ways nothing else has even come close to so for example her balance you know we’ll do a class where we’re on the floor the entire time but when she walks out of the room she notices that her balance has improved even so much so that there have been times that so forget hurricane and that school and lets see she goes back in and she’s like oh my King you know this is like her brain isn’t even registering that she needs to use her cane all right right oh that’s amazing julia that’s great yeah I mean it’s really like I describe it to someone it’s just with that population where sometimes there are just so caught up in their head with what’s going on in their diagnosis and the treatment that it’s like a lock and key you know so not only are they seeing the physical benefits of the practice but they’re also experiencing the mental and the emotional piece where they can Relax and actually connect to themselves in a healing way so that’s what I mean that’s the magical piece that comes out of it you know well and that’s where the healing really happens right isn’t in that like zone it’s just even difficult to put words to it isn’t it yeah definitely yeah I hear a lot that you know it’s the most relax that someone has ever felt you know after a class even though it’s hard work I mean you know it’s not like a not always e diver yeah yeah so I’m curious for the University of vermont and for you yourself you know where did where do you see this program Where do you see kind of yoga and this wellness piece that you’re kind of oriented where do you see it going for you guys well a big initiative just in the and I think it’s mostly in vermont right now with their health care system is they’re moving towards a community based wellness health care some more on the preventative side so instead of like a patient you know coming in for say pneumonia or something then the hospital gets paid for treating the pneumonia they’re trying to gear it more Keeping people out of the hospital putting more money into preventative medicine and so I think this will fall right into that category of preventative medicine so as people are going through whatever chemo treatments or various you know types of chronic pain stuff that they’re dealing with to have this as an I jumped therapy to support now well I think it is pretty huge there that’s great How many classes are you teaching a week right now right now it’s just one so by next year we will be adding another class three and we’re working towards starting like little series so we wanna do a six week series on kai yoga for cancer patients you know kind of just starting to pinpoint certain populations and being able to offer it kinda specific to what they’re dealing with but still keep the the mixed chronic condition class yeah great you know what is Super cool for me to hear in that julia is that your students have been having such a good response I mean you know especially that God that you’ve been working with over a year I’ve been having such a good response and they’re not having to do this every single day and they’re not having to go to appointments all the time that they’re really coming regularly 11 time a week and you’re and you’re seeing that degree of change yeah I think that is a very cool In and of itself that’s amazing yeah it’s amazing yeah well julia do you have anything else that you’d like to share with us any other last tidbits or words of wisdom I think just you know advice to those who are out there maybe dealing with a chronic condition which I always say I’m like life is a chronic condition you know there’s a really stunning free so but you know Something that I hear from people that are very nervous about coming to yoga it is they have this impression that it’s for people who are flexible and strong and that they can’t do it you know that they’re not comfortable you know on the floor or you know they’re just nervous overall about this idea of yoga so just working towards like kinda like dismissing that and letting them know that this really is a practice for everybody regardless you know of shape size condition all of that and and I know like our teacher Francisco teaches us it’s really about Making a connection with your student and making them feel safe so it’s saying that it means you know finding a good teacher is Super Super important because I think what happens is sometimes people go to yoga class and it’s not the right type of yoga for them or maybe you know the teacher didn’t present it well and then instantly they cross yoga off their list as you know their treatment modality and so trying to transform you know the image of of yoga for for more people so that they’d be willing to to check it out yeah Oh julia thank you for spending this time together I think it’s excellent so if people are in the vermont area and they are wanting to connect with you where did they go they can go to the Va medical Center website and you can do a search on their website for yoga for chronic conditions are actually we’re probably at coyote yoga or chronic conditions and then there will be a registration link where you can sign up online body right now our classes are full through the end of the year but hopefully by next year we’re gonna find a bigger space Where we can accommodate more people and and keep growing the program which is Super exciting that’s great and if you’re looking for kind of yoga in the boulder area then I encourage you to check out our schedule at coyotes and kinda spelled ka ut so it sky you yoga boulder dot com we’re offering 14 classes a week and more is being added to our schedule so join us there and Let’s see what crazy yoga can do for you alright thanks julia thanks kristin thanks everyone