285: Mental Health Aware Yoga with Dr. Lauren Tober

Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness and 1 in 3 Canadians will be affected by a mental illness during their lifetime. Globally, there is an upward trend in the number of people living with and impacted by mental health conditions. This means we may have students in our classes with mental health conditions that we don’t know about. How can we best support these students within our scope of practice? Dr. Lauren Tober shares more.

Dr. Lauren Tober is a Clinical Psychologist, Yoga Teacher and certified iRest Meditation Teacher with a passion for health, healing, happiness and awakening. She is the founder of Awake Psychology, an online Australia-wide psychology practice, the Centre for Mind Body Wellness in Mullumbimby (Australia) and teaches Yoga Teachers around the world about mental health with the Mental Health Aware Yoga training. Lauren has also created several acclaimed online courses, and her work has been featured in many publications.

Lauren explains what is and isn’t in our scope of practice as yoga teachers when it comes to mental health, and how we can support people with mental health conditions without overstepping our boundaries. Lauren also offers tips on what to do when someone cries in a yoga class, how to create a safe container in a yoga class that may have students with mental health issues we don’t know about, and how we can support students outside of yoga.

Key Takeaways:

[2:13] Shannon shares a book she is learning a lot from – One Native Life by Richard Wagamese.

[4:44] Shannon has a few announcements to share about upcoming events and offerings.

[8:16] Shannon introduces the guest for this episode – Dr. Lauren Tober.

[11:36] What does Lauren do and who does she do it for?

[13:23][13:24] Lauren reminds us that we may not know when our students are going through mental health challenges.

[15:55] What lies within the scope of practice for yoga teachers when it comes to helping people with their mental health?

“Yoga has an amazing role to play in terms of supporting mental wellness and supporting people who are going through mental health challenges.” Dr. Lauren Tober 

[18:41] Lauren works with yoga teachers around mental health to give them enough information to help their students.

“You need to really get clear on what your scope of practice is and make sure you stay within that and if you feel tempted to do some counseling or offer massage or whatever it is, … go and get some training in that area so you can broaden your scope of practice and include that in your offering.” Dr. Lauren Tober 

[21:17] It is common for people to break down and cry in yoga classes. What should yoga teachers do in that moment?

[26:34] What might Lauren say to someone who cried during the yoga class to check in with them at the end of the class?

[27:39] What should yoga teachers do if students start to open up about their struggles or mental health challenges?

“Supporting somebody going through mental health challenges is creating a space where someone can come and feel safe. ” Dr. Lauren Tober 

[30:06] Lauren recommends having a list of professionals you can refer people to – e.g. doctors, naturopaths, psychologists.

[34:13] What is something related to mental health challenges that Lauren wishes yoga teachers knew.

[38:12] What are Lauren’s thoughts on using touch in a yoga class?

“Having conversations about consent and touch is really powerful.” Dr. Lauren Tober 

[43:49] Shannon pops in with a warning about strong language.

[45:12] Shannon gives a shout out to sponsor OfferingTree.

[48:42] There is a common misconception among yoga teachers that if you do enough yoga, you don’t need any mental health support. Lauren shares her thoughts on this.

[54:01] Find out more about Lauren and her work on her website and check out her special website around yoga for mental health.

[56:09] Shannon shares her biggest takeaways from this interview.


Gratitude to our Sponsor, OfferingTree.

OfferingTree Logo