Teacher Feature: Camilla Figueroa by Lk Bookman
Not one to shy away from introspection and self-study, Camilla F. has been helping others do the same since the early 2000's. She attributes her passion for yoga therapy to the fact that she has found so much peace in it herself. Camilla began her journey into practicing and teaching yoga therapy after years of therapy herself. Since yoga therapy teacher training, she has taught more than 700 people in her private practice.
Camilla's journey to find her calling as a yoga therapist began in her early 20's after facing a life-changing experience. While serving in the Peace Corp, she was witness to a violent assault on several fellow female volunteers and the fear after this event was the catalyst for a downward spiral into a chronic physical illness that would last for many years. Camilla returned to the states and underwent a battery of tests, but wasn't able to find the answers to help her overcome the illness. During this process, she moved to Austin with her husband to attend grad school and became a clinical social worker at SafePlace. She hoped that in her effort to help others overcome trauma she might also find answers for herself.
Around this same time Camilla became pregnant with her first child and was encouraged to try prenatal yoga. Even though she was very skeptical that yoga would benefit her, she recalls feeling very relaxed on her drive home after that first class. Camilla stuck with it, and after her pregnancy, she gravitated towards Ashtanga yoga. This vigorous practiced fit perfectly with her self-proclaimed rigid personality and she enjoyed the visceral heat and repetitive style. But with the intensity of her practice also came severe injury to her knees from pushing herself too hard.
To this day, she shares with her students “ … it is in the moment when the body is not doing what the ego wants, the real yoga begins. The body's experience is ephemeral, is impermanent and if we try to adhere to the body's being a measure of such great yogis we are, we're suffering attachment and we're not taking the body to the next plane.”
Injury led Camilla to the next step on her journey … yoga therapy. Since she was a trained therapist and had been through years of therapy herself, she thought she was fixed. It was during the first 5 minutes of her first yoga therapy session that Camilla felt so angry that she realized she had so much more to work on. She also discovered during this experience that being a yoga therapist was her calling.
During training in yoga therapy, Camilla realized that talk therapy can only heal the thinking mind. She learned that the body is also very much affected during the original traumatic experience, whatever the trauma might be, fear of abandonment, not feeling loved to full on abuse and survival of it. She shares that “Our survival tendencies are hardwired in the body and until we wake up to them, we are able to integrate them and make them an ally to the recovery and healing. Full body integration and survival mechanisms that are associated with them, that the body actually houses the vibration of the unconscious and subconscious mind remembering what the thinking brain has already forgotten.”
Camilla completed her year long 650 hour yoga therapy training and opened her healing space, Dharma Yoga Therapy, in Austin soon after. The process of yoga therapy allows students to develop the answers from within with the assistance of the yoga therapist. It is about teaching students how to use the body as a vehicle for awakening in their daily lives.
When Camilla is not teaching group classes at Dharma Yoga or assisting individuals in her private yoga therapy practice, she enjoys spending time with her two boys ages 6 and 12. Learn more about Dharma Yoga Therapy.
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