Physical Therapy Meets Yoga, an Interview with Nicole Mullins

fullsizeoutput_29e5Nicole Mullins PT/E-RYT is a physical therapist and yoga teacher with over 20 years experience working in orthopedics and seven years in therapeutic yoga. Currently, Nicole is the clinical director at Embody Physical Therapy and Yoga. She will be leading an Intermediate Anatomy Workshop for yoga teachers and experienced students at Yoga One on June 10-11. For more information and to register, go here

Yoga One: Which practice were you introduced to first in your life, physical therapy or yoga? And how long have you been practicing each?

Nicole Mullins: I was introduced to physical therapy long before I was introduced to yoga. Of course I knew yoga existed, I just didn’t have any experience with it or anyone who practiced yoga. I have been a physical therapist for 22 years and have always actively sought out additional training to stay current.

I took my first yoga class 17 years ago, but didn’t really start practicing until about 8 years ago when I jumped into a 200-hour teacher training. From there, I took workshop after workshop to really hone my skills and understanding of yoga.

Yoga made so much biomechanical sense that it soon replaced most of the therapeutic exercise I did with my patients.

YO: How has yoga informed your clinical work in physical therapy?

Nicole: I think the combination of yoga and physical therapy is both revolutionary and uncommon. It is a brilliant marriage that allows me to offer so much more to my patients than I was ever able to before. Yoga is so much more than just asana (the physical exercises). Yoga recognizes the undeniable mind-body connection and how we must address the whole person to affect positive change.

YO: Good alignment is something every yoga student wants to have, but it can be difficult to learn without years of practice or private instruction. If you could teach every yoga teacher and student the biomechanics of one pose, which would it be?

Nicole: There are actually two poses that I think are vital and necessary for everyone! From a purely biomechanical standpoint, I would teach tadasana, or mountain pose. Tadasana is the foundation of all standing poses and so many other yoga poses. Knowing how to find a neutral posture is necessary to be able to safely move into and out of poses and minimize risk of injury or overuse.

From the standpoint of overall well-being, I would choose savasana, or corpse pose. Most of us are unable to truly shut down and let our minds and bodies relax. The purpose of savasana at the end of a yoga practice is to let the nervous system integrate the experience of the physical practice. Learning how to do this properly can be extraordinarily beneficial and healing.

YO: What have you learned recently that really interests you?

Nicole: In addition to studying manual physical therapy and yoga, learning about essential oils and natural healing, I have also been studying osteopathic techniques, including visceral manipulation. “Viscera” refers to our organs. This technique has been around for many years and embodies the concept of treating the whole person. We cannot just address the muscles and joints without considering every other system and structure in the body.

The viscera and their orientation in our body is a crucial component in our ability to move and function with ease. Scar tissue and adhesions from surgery, injury, illness and infection can change an organ’s ability to move naturally. These adhesions are frequently manifested as musculoskeletal injuries, including back and neck pain. Adding this technique to my practice along with yoga and has been truly pivotal.

Learning new techniques and knowledge about the body is what makes me so excited to be a yoga teacher and physical therapist. It’s what makes me even more excited to share what I have learned through teaching so others can grow in their practice as well.

Embody (370 of 404).jpgYO: We’re excited you’re offering an Intermediate Anatomy Workshop at Yoga One, can you share one topic you’ll be covering in depth?

Nicole: The workshop will touch on many topics, but one I consider to be the most important is what constitutes a neutral spinal and pelvic alignment. We will explore the biomechanical relationship between the spine, pelvis, shoulders, and hips. You will learn why the shoulders and hips are cornerstones of a healthy spine and you will experience this in your own body via asana in the training.

YO: That sounds amazing! Who would benefit the most from this type of workshop?

Nicole: This workshop will benefit any yoga teacher or student who wants to understand more about how and why the body moves as it does. This workshop is for anyone who wants a deeper, fuller knowledge of biomechanics and how it applies to yoga in particular.

If you want to be inspired to teach yoga more confidently, excited to share what you will have learned, and ready to see the benefits in your students, please join us.

Intermediate Anatomy Workshop

led by Nicole Mullins at Yoga One
10-hour course, eligible for Yoga Alliance continuing education credits

Saturday June 10th 12:30-6:30pm
Sunday June 11th 12:00-6:00pm

Pre-registeration required: $175 by June 1st / $225 by June 8th (last day to register. No refunds.)


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