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Yoga and Mental Health Workshop

07.10.2023 @ 9:00 - 08.10.2023 @ 16:00


This weekend workshop will investigate Ashtanga yoga’s utility and efficacy in dealing with common mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, addiction, relationship issues, chronic stress, and more. Each day will begin with a familiar asana practice. We will then explore pranayama and meditation in an effort to incorporate these important limbs into our daily practice in a sustainable way.

The workshop will also explore how co-regulation and cooperation are critical components to what we often view as an individual practice. The workshop’s overall theme will draw heavily upon the Polyvagal Theory, a scientific view of how we behave and experience life through the psychological and physiological states produced by our autonomic (automatic) nervous system. We will investigate how practices that are part of Ashtanga yoga are a perfect way to transform some of these conditioned automatic processes into more conscious and well-adaptive processes. We will explore these states of our nervous system in asana, pranayama, and meditative practices, as well as in relationship with each other and our loved ones.

The goal of this workshop is to better understand the ways in which our practice is influencing our minds and relationships. It will also introduce the SMS (“seven minute sequence”) which is a yogic tool that emphasises the healthy movement through the Polyvagal hierarchy outlined in the theory toward a calm, collected state. The SMS is a tool designed for crises and when we find ourselves experiencing strong and difficult emotions, well after the bliss of our morning asana or yoga classes have worn off. The SMS is an adaptive sequence, capable of being tailored to each individual’s unique life circumstances.



9:00 – 10:45 – Introduction and asana practice

11:00 – 12:30 – Intro to mental health and the polyvagal theory

12:30 – 13:30 – Lunch break

13:30 – 14:30 – Co-regulation and community

14:45 -16:00 – Pranayama and mental health


9:00 – 10:45 – Welcome and asana practice

11:00 – 12:30 – Zen, Meditation, and Mental health

12:30 – 13:30 – Lunch break

13:30 – 14:45 – SMS: The 7 minute sequence

15:00 – 16:00 – Yogamind: Expanding and sustaining our practices

The workshop will be led by Matt Ryan and Chandler Dandridge, two men who after much practice and failure have found immense relief from their own mental health symptoms through a well-tailored daily yoga practice.

Matt Ryan – Authorised Ashtanga yoga teacher

After struggling with an extreme anxiety disorder for many years I was handed the phone number of a yoga teacher in the hope that it would help with this condition. And so began a quarter of a century dedication to the healing and transformative powers of Ashtanga yoga. In the 25 plus years of being immersed in Ashtanga (both practising & teaching) I have taught all over the world, including Europe, India, and the United States. I have set up and established studios in Manchester, London, and Los Angeles. I have an A-list private clientele which includes stars from the music and film industry and also players from the English football Premier League.

I hold the highly coveted Ashtanga Yoga level 2 teaching authorisation from the AYRI, the governing body of Ashtanga in Mysore, South India, where I have made many trips since the year 2000. My own personal yoga practice includes working through into the Advanced B series of Ashtanga Yoga – one of the very few yoga practitioners from around the world working at this level. I am an ambassador and fund-raiser for Operation-Shant, a Mysore-based charity. I also created and developed ‘the nee-ji – the knee guru’, the safe knee support for yoga and meditation.

For the past 15 years I have been studying Zen and its forms, mainly the Soto School’s Shikantaza or ‘Just SItting’ form of meditation.

Chandler Dandridge – Licensed psychotherapist and adjunct professor of psychology at Pepperdine University

I found yoga for free in a park in the Hollywood Hills. At the time I was experiencing intense anxiety, both mentally and physically. But after each class the physical manifestations of my anxiety were entirely gone. I was then able for a time to work more wisely through the anxiety in my mind. I began a daily Ashtanga yoga practice which sustained the physical relief. But at the “so-called peak” of my asana practice, having learned the advanced third series of Ashtanga, I was as mentally unwell as I had been before I even began yoga. Then one of my friends returned from India with a passion for pranayama after completing a course of study with BNS Iyengar. He taught me pranayama practices which I have since incorporated into my daily yoga practice and it has truly turned my chronic anxiety into only the occasional worry.

As a practising psychotherapist my clinical work is fundamentally grounded in a biological, psychological, and social approach to the human condition. (Or in eastern terms: mind, body,
and spirit.) I believe that this is an appropriate way to look at yoga. For instance, biologically what is the ujjayi breathing doing? And how does that influence our psychological states and social lives? Through these workshops, I hope to be able to translate my professional experience and clinical expertise to contribute to students’ deepening their own understanding about the nuances of their practice. I believe the goal of yoga is not necessarily to strengthen our practice on the mat, so to speak, but to sustain our daily practice into our wider worlds.

Registration and payment terms

Registration is by email to ashtangasofia@gmail.com.

We will send you details of the bank account for deposit transfer and all the steps you need to follow. Enrollment takes place with the payment of a 50 euro deposit.

For more information do not hesitate to call us:

+359 885 188 977 – Cveta

+359 896 762 764 – Krassen


07.10.2023 @ 9:00
08.10.2023 @ 16:00


Ashtanga Yoga Shala
ул. „Цар Асен I-ви“ 20, ет.3
София, България
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Ashtanga Yoga Shala
0896 762 764