Yoga and Hypnotherapy - YogaStart Inteview

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Please share a favorite quote of yours.

"And you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek you find not within yourself you will never find it without."

- Excerpt from The Charge of the Goddess - Traditional by Doreen Valiente, as adapted by Starhawk

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Ewa Litauer (pronounced Eva - it's a Polish spelling), I was born and raised in Europe and have lived in San Francisco since 1994. I have studied psychology and alternative healing most of my life and feel most excited about bringing different modalities together to help people feel better and find more freedom in mind, body and soul.  I believe that if we take the time and opportunity to take care of ourselves, we bring our best to the world around us - our families, our work, our relationships, our communities; aligning our inner knowing and wisdom with our whole being and our actions in the world.

How would you describe your style of teaching?  What is one thing you bring to your class that is uniquely you?

My clients and students often comment on my warm, welcoming, and grounded presence and the supportive and fun way I structure classes and sessions using humor and stories, and sometimes tarot cards and astrology to find deeper meaning in our day-to-day challenges and gifts.  I often hear that I am "real" and that I make people feel comfortable and at ease.
My intention is to assist each individual in strengthening their connections with themselves - on and off the mat - at a soul level and to support them in creating a personal practice, or a life path, that is fulfilling on a personal level as well as one which brings their unique gifts into our interconnected world.  A commitment to deep healing and hope and a desire to transform our individual and collective shadow places flow into my work and teaching.
In addition to teaching restorative yoga I also work as a hypnotherapist and Reiki practitioner - so, in a class or private session with me you might experience Reiki (hands-on energy healing) during a restorative yoga pose or learn how to use language and auto-suggestion to improve your overall health and well-being.

Why did you start practicing yoga?

I've taken the occasional yoga class in my 20's as well as some pre-natal classes later on, but I truly fell in love with yoga after I became a mother of twins and discovered how yoga (I was mostly practicing Iyengar at that time) not only gave me relief from physical tension and aches but it actually helped me find better postures in my body, off the mat as well - especially when I was carrying my babies and toddlers around.  In 2005 I was introduced to Anusara Yoga (completed the Anusara immersion with Stacey Rosenberg in 2009) and became increasingly passionate about applying the alignment principles on the mat, and even more so in everything I do involving my body - including giving Reiki.
After witnessing tremendous healing in myself and others through Restorative Yoga, I was inspired to become certified in 2010 to teach Restorative Yoga by Judith Lasater.  Since then I have taught in a UC study exploring the benefits of Restorative Yoga on the metabolic syndrome, and theses days I often add Reiki to restorative classes and private sessions, especially with students dealing with chronic conditions like fibromyalgia, diabetes, or degenerative illnesses, or those preparing for or recovering from surgery.

How is yoga meaningful to you nowadays?

Yoga is my go-to place when things get challenging.  I believe it is one of my greatest tools in weathering emotional upsets and getting through hardship. Nothing like even just a 10 minute practice of inversions to change your perspective... Even when things seem to fall apart emotionally, I always feel better after I practice yoga.
When I was 14 I started having lower back pain and later on sciatica - at 23 I had back surgery and now, at 46, I can say that my back is in much better heath than it's been in my youth, and I mostly credit my yoga practice for the tremendous improvement.  These days my yoga practice can be as effective as an excellent chiropractic adjustment but with the benefit of being able to give it to myself - any time.  And I continue to feel greater strength and freedom in my body as I am getting older.

In addition to yoga, you also practice Hypnotherapy.  Popular notions of hypnosis bring up images of a magician on stage who hypnotizes participants and has them make animal sounds to amuse the audience.  Please explain how Hypnotherapy can be a powerful tool for healing.  What is the "magic" that makes it work?

Yes, I believe most of us have seen these Stage-Hypnosis shows - which indeed have not much in common with using hypnosis in a therapeutic or healing context.  When we work with hypnosis in therapy we use our intention to align our subconscious with the vision and changes we desire to bring about in our lives, therefore gaining more control - not giving up control.
The subconscious is by definition not normally accessible to our conscious attempts to influence it.  And positive affirmations are usually just that - maybe having a calming or motivating effect for the moment but not addressing the underlying issues.  But hypnosis is key in accessing and guiding the subconscious, where real lasting change happens, in a manner which gives clients more control over their own lives.  It's actually a way of enhancing people's control, of teaching them how to control aspects of their body's function and sensation, as well as emotional and spiritual components, that they thought they couldn't.  That's why hypnosis also brings results much faster and more reliably than regular talk psychotherapy.

Please share one story of how Hypnotherapy was able to help a patient in a meaningful way.

 Last year I worked with a woman who had been struggling with irregular menses, cramps, PMS and a general feeling of disconnect from her "female softer side."  Through Reiki and Hypnosis (regression work) we discovered some negative messages she had taken on from her mother about being a woman.We then worked on releasing those old negative messages with the help of her own spiritual guides and some ancestor work.  We also used voice dialogue - a technique which enabled her to communicate directly with her ovaries.

She then was able to come up with a healing ritual for herself and started having a regular practice of checking in with herself and especially her female organs.  Interestingly, her relationship with her mother improved after that, even though they never talked about what my client was working on with me.

And as she came to embrace more and more of what it means to her (and not to anyone else) to be a woman, she also began to feel a deeper commitment to her partner and started feeling a wish to become a mother herself.  I recently got a message from her that she is now pregnant and happily awaiting her baby.

How does Hypnotherapy compare to other more commonly used forms of treatment for the ailments it is effective in curing?  Why should people keep Hypnotherapy in mind when seeking treatment?

 Well, first of all, there are no harmful side-effects as we often get with western medicine drugs.  Hypnotherapy has the power to remap our brains (see the recent research about the neuro-plasticity of the brain, i.e. Norman Doidge: The Brain That Changes Itself) and change our lives because it works by accessing the subconscious mind.So, if someone quits smoking or some other unwanted habit or addiction with the help of hypnotherapy, they also have learned how to deal with any other undesirable behavior or even with unwanted thoughts of worry, fear or anxiety.  Hypnotherapy has also proven helpful in dispelling insomnia, improving athletic performance, studying for and passing exams, improving self-confidence, or increasing relaxation and pleasure.

And because we work with our goals and intentions to make these changes in our subconscious minds I have found it much more powerful - and faster - in bringing about real lasting changes than regular talk psychotherapy.