Yoga turned out to be a way to get people to safely feel their physical sensations and to develop a quiet practice of stillness.

~Bessel van der Kolk, MD

Many years ago in high school P.E. I was introduced to the practice of yoga. I fell in love with it though at the time couldn’t articulate why or what the yoga was doing for me other than noticeably feeling better in my body and mind.

I stuck with it, or rather the yoga stuck with me, and it hasn’t left my side since. Yoga has supported me through various physical and emotional challenges including depression, anxiety, addictive behaviors, trauma, pregnancy and child birth, chronic illness, a broken heart, and an aching body. Yoga offered me the opportunity to befriend my body, and work with my current experience rather than fighting against it. My yoga practice has evolved over the years, and can even shift day to day. Sometimes I simply sit and breathe, other times movement is what I need.

I’m looking forward to joining the Minds in Motion team as a mindfulness based therapist. I can include yoga in sessions if it is something of interest to you. Please do contact me if you’d like more information.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is a Sanskrit word which means ‘union”. It’s a mind, body, spirit practice that has been in existence for thousands of years with the intent to support us in healing and uplifting our whole being. Yoga includes, moving, breathing and concentration practices, as well as a consideration of values, and the tendencies of the mind.

Yoga can be practiced in many forms, though perhaps it can be most simply described as kindly paying attention to what’s happening in the moment, including the sensations in our body, how we breathe, move, think, and how we interact with others.

With yoga practice, our awareness increases, the busy mind slows down and we become more able to skillfully and compassionately tend to the needs of our whole being. Yoga doesn’t fix us (we’re not broken) rather it’s an invitation to create a more accepting and compassionate relationship with ourselves and any suffering happening, and in that process there is healing.

Who can practice yoga?

Anyone who is breathing can practice yoga, we don’t have to be on a yoga mat or in a hot room. We don’t have to be able to touch our toes, and we can even do yoga sitting in a chair, or lying in bed.

Yoga can help one become more flexible, though it’s by no means a practice that requires flexibility to begin. Yoga is much more than physical stretching into pretzel like poses. It’s not about how well one does a pose, but instead about the present moment experience, breathing, and an opportunity to cultivate awareness of one’s thoughts and sensations, discipline, acceptance, and compassion- all necessary elements for lasting change.

Yoga is a practice to connect with one’s highest self, and in doing this practice, we inevitably are also connecting to all beings and something greater.

How does yoga help support us in healing trauma:

Following trauma, acute, chronic or complex, the brain and body can continue to react as though trauma is still happening. The nervous system can become dysregulated, and often the body is no longer perceived as a safe place.

Yoga can support us in developing interoception, understanding the sensation and messages of the body, and rediscovering safe places in the body, which can all be used as resources for healing.

Practicing yoga can remind the nervous system how to be flexible. When paying attention to our breath and movement in a deliberate and compassionate way, we learn how to workwith our nervous system rather than feel trapped when the nervous system reacts. When there is an ability to flow productively from fight or flight, action and doing (sympathetic nervous system) to rest, digest, and restore (parasympathetic nervous system) we can begin to feel more grounded, centered, and in the present moment, able to navigate through the dance of life with more grace and ease.

The flexibility of the nervous system, more awareness and interoception has a direct impact on our ability to manage emotions, change unhealthy thought patterns. We can become less reactive to minor stressors, which we may have previously responded to as threats. By becoming aware of our somatic/body experience we can learn to feel the capacity of the situation and respond productively. We can train the body and mind to become less reactive and more present.

Yoga and psychotherapy

There continues to be a growing body of evidence for the therapeutic benefits of practicing yoga to promote health and alleviate psychological symptoms. Yoga tools such as breath work, meditation, and mindfulness of the body can be taught and practiced in a therapy session and then be safely used in daily life.

Practicing Yoga Can:

  • Cultivate awareness of the present moment
  • Allow one to focus on the body, and a re/connection and trust with the body and it’s wisdom
  • Provide an opportunity to exercise choice
  • Provide a sense of empowerment over one’s body, thoughts, and actions
  • Open one’s awareness, and support nervous system and emotional regulation
  • Offer an opportunity to feel grounded, centered and in present time, with access to one’s breath
  • Support one in safely discharging traumatic stress
  • Cultivate kindness, compassion and acceptance
  • Help one learn how to tolerate discomfort
  • Build one’s resiliency
  • Provide a space to reconnect with sensations in a safe way


Excellent resources for learning more about yoga in a therapeutic setting:


Cristen Malia

Cristen has a fascination in learning about the inherent wisdom of the body and mind, and has been studying practices such as yoga and meditation for many years. She has a passion in blending time honored practices with western psychology to create a contemporary therapeutic opportunity. Cristen hopes to provide an inviting platform, skillful guidance and compassionate presence to support others in finding their own inherent and healing wisdom within.

Cristen earned a master’s degree in May 2019 from Naropa University in Transpersonal Psychology, Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an emphasis in mindfulness. She is a registered yoga teacher educator with the yoga alliance, 500 ERYT. Cristen offers mindfulness based psychotherapy and individual trauma informed yoga sessions at Minds in Motions. She also teaches weekly public yoga classes in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.






Improve Your Sleep Quality…even if you aren’t getting enough of it

When I ask patients about their health goals, many of them tell me that they’d like to improve their sleep.  Whether they are getting 10 hours or 3 hours, they aren’t waking up feeling refreshed. We all know that setting aside the appropriate amount of time for sleep (7-9 hours) is critical, but what if you’re already doing that?  Or what if you simply do not have that time available to you? In this article I’m going to focus on increasing quality of sleep, using the time you’ve got to really make it count.

Fall Asleep Faster

    If you tend to struggle with transitioning to sleep, listen up!  The body loves routine, so, commit to going to bed at a consistent bedtime most days each week.  Ideally this is between 10pm-11pm.  But if you work late, that’s fine, consistency is key here.  This routine helps regulate the hormones that determine our sleep/wake cycle.  Next, it has to be dark. If it’s not nice and dark in your room, invest in a sleep mask.  The body simply has no idea that it’s bedtime in a bright room. This also means you have to stop playing on your smart phone, tablet, computer or any bright electronic in bed.  Those blue lights are telling the body it’s morning –this is not what you want. Finally, if your mind tends to race, try L-theanine. Taking about 100mg of l-theanine at bedtime can increase the amount of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which helps us feel relaxed.

Sleep Deeper

If you’re sleeping through the night, but aren’t waking feeling well rested, it may because you’re not sinking into that deep delta sleep.  To improve this, try decreasing the temperature in your bedroom a bit. Sleeping with a slight chill can help deepen sleep. Another possibility is that you’re not making enough melatonin.  Try supplementing with 1-2mg of melatonin before bed. Finally, there is some really neat research about manipulating brain waves by using various sound frequencies. These are called binaural beats, and they can help lure your brainwaves into frequencies associated with deep sleep (delta state).  This sounds a little hokey, but it really works! I like using the Brainwave App (with ear buds) to help retrain light sleep into deep sleep.

Sleep Through the Night

When I hear that someone is waking up in the middle of the night and not getting back to sleep, it’s usually a cortisol issue.  Cortisol is this neat hormone that our body uses to wake us up. It’s supposed to peak in the morning (7-8am), but if there’s some adrenal dysfunction, it’ll wake us at 3am and not let go.  To retrain this cortisol spike, it can be very helpful to have a high protein snack right before bed. A hardboiled egg, nut butter, a piece or turkey, or a bite of a protein bar can help stabilize blood sugar, which in turn stabilizes adrenal response.  Another adrenal ally is Ashwaganda. About 100-200mg of this herbal extract can help soothe the adrenal response. I like Cortisol Manager by Integrative Therapeutics as it combines ashwaganda with l-theanine for super sleep quality. Finally, the best thing you can do if you find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night is breathe.  Deep belly breaths that move your belly out with each inhale and back in toward the spine with each exhale (you can practice with a book on your belly) help reset that cortisol spike.

These are all really helpful sleep basics.  However, even doing every single thing in this article may not be enough to get your sleep cycle on track.  If that’s the case, please schedule a naturopathic medicine appointment with me, and let’s get to the bottom of your sleep concerns.

In health,

Dr. Grace Charles

Naturopathic Doctor, Licensed Acupuncturist


Are you waking up more nights than not between 1-3am, head starts running about everything that needs to get done in the next day, what didn’t happen yesterday or all your general worries? Maybe you are able to fall back asleep or maybe you are up for an hour or more.

Maybe you actually feel like you get a good nights sleep but have a hard time getting up and getting going in the morning without that grande triple shot latte to jump start your day.

Maybe you have “slumps” in your day between breakfast and lunch or between lunch and dinner where you just run out of steam, no energy.

Finally, after dinner may be the best time of your day, energy wise, and if you stay up past 10pm you seem to get a “second wind” and are able to get all kind of things done around the house, telling yourself “its because there are no distractions” and are able to stay up for several more hours without feeling tired.

Any of these things ring true for you? If so you may be experiencing a shift in the normal rhythm of your cortisol cycle. Yes, I said cortisol! Many people equate cortisol to the “fat hormone” and assume it is bad for us. Cortisol is actually a steroid hormone that benefits us in many ways. Did you know that we have a normal pattern of cortisol circulating through our body on a daily basis. It is the hormone of “alertness”. We want our cortisol to be highest in the morning so we can be alert and start our day. The normal pattern of circulating cortisol begins to drop as our day goes on with the lowest levels going into the evening. It is opposite of the hormone melatonin that rises in the evening to help us fall asleep. (don’t want the alertness hormone high at night). The cycle of cortisol release begins to climb again between 1-3 am so our cortisol level will be high again in the morning.

Why is this important to mental health and health in general?

Good question! Remember the questions above….if we have been under chronic stress, either real or perceived, the adrenal glands will begin to answer that stress response in the body by increasing the amount of circulating cortisol in the body. Now the body begins to stay in a state of “alertness” looking for the danger. Did you know that your body does not differentiate if your stress is real or just the worry thoughts in your head, the body will always try to come to your rescue by moving into the stress response.

If our body stays in the stress response for to long, like days, weeks or months, that nice normal pattern of cortisol release begins to change. Many times it shifts to being really low in the morning (hard to get up and get going) and begins to rise to quickly at night, hence that burst of evening energy or 1-3am awakenings.

The good news is that the body does not want to stay in a state of tension/stress. Its normal response is to come back to a resting state once a threat or perceived threat is gone. If any of these symptoms ring true for you, there are many ways we at minds in motion can assist in helping the body and mind find equilibrium again with a natural approach to balancing that system with supplements and education.
We offer an Adrenal Stress Test and can check your cortisol levels at 4 different times of the day. Utilizing the test results we can begin to formulate a plan to coax your adrenal system back into its normal rhythm. When the adrenal system is in a more relaxed state, your body and mind can feel more calm.

Introducing our new Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Grace Charles.

Dr. Grace Charles is a Naturopathic Doctor, providing individualized natural health care at Minds in Motion. Dr. Charles is not new to the Yampa valley, she has had a thriving private practice here in Steamboat for the past five years. She joined the team at Minds in Motion to further enhance patient care with the ability to work collaboratively with a team approach if necessary. Dr. Charles provides guidance to support the physical health of patients working to optimize their whole-body wellness. With training in both conventional medicine and holistic care, Dr. Charles is well suited to help patients determine which approach is most appropriate. She combines therapeutic diets, lifestyle changes and herbal medicine to treat the patient, not the disease.
Dr. Charles focuses on hormone systems, and is especially equipped to work with patients who have fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, adrenal fatigue, thyroid disorders, blood sugar issues, and sex hormone imbalances (infertility, menopause, irregular or absent periods).

Dr. Charles is also a licensed acupuncturist. Her acupuncture treatments target stress and anxiety, which can be at the root of many health conditions.

Dr. Charles often works with patients who are overwhelmed with the natural health information they find online, who would prefer expert guidance to help them meet their health goals.

We at Minds in Motion are honored that Dr. Grace has joined our team, which further enhances our ability to provide a unique and truly integrated health experience.

Did you know you can now enjoy the benefits of the BioMat at Minds in Motion?

If you want to release stress by relaxing your muscles and enjoying soothing Far Infrared Ray heat and negative ions, simply lying on the BioMat promotes a feeling of well being for a healthier mind and body.

Because the BioMat’s far infrared rays penetrate deeply into the body and promotes our natural state of health and balance, it can be used to treat a wide range of health issues.
US FDA’s Medical Device 510K indications for use:

  • Relaxation of muscles
  • Temporary relief of:
    – Minor muscle pain
    – Minor joint pain and stiffness
    – Joint pain associated with arthritis
    – Muscle spasms
    – Minor sprains
    – Minor strains
    – Minor muscular back pain

Other benefits found from the BioMat:

  • Reduces stress and fatigue
  • Soothes and relaxes
  • Supports the immune system
  • Improved sleep (if associated with pain relief)
  • Reduced inflammation (where applied)
  • Promotes relaxation by application of heat
  • Promotes restful sleep for those with occasional sleeplessness
  • What are far infrared rays?

Far infrared rays are part of the electro-magnetic light spectrum and are close to the light frequency of natural sunlight. However, far infrared does not contain any of sunlight’s harmful UV/UVB radiation. The beneficial properties of far infrared light have received particular attention from the scientific community in recent years, although the first research conducted on this part of the light spectrum was undertaken by NASA decades ago. Today, health practitioners from a wide range of disciplines agree on the beneficial properties of far infrared technology.

What are negative ions?

An ion is a particle containing an electrical charge. An ion with a negative electrical charge is called a negative ion, and this type of ion is now considered to be integral to healthy cellular function.

Imagine being able to feel better while you relax in soothing heat. That’s the benefit of the amethyst BioMat technology: it’s effortless, easy to use, and feels great while it provides muscle relaxation and temporary relief of the aches pains, spasms sprains strains and stiffness.. Even a short time on the BioMat reduces stress, muscle tension and the aches and pains. Most BioMat users find that the time they spend on the BioMat is the best part of their day, and a great way to unwind.
You can experience the relaxing benefits for yourself by booking a half hour or one-hour session at


There is a little known fact out there that I want to share. There is indeed, a difference, between empathy and compassion. Why am I writing about this? Because recently, I realized that I had slipped back into an empathic state and stayed there longer than I should have, resulting in fatigue and sadness. Empathy is required for us as humans to connect. IT is a basic concept that we use everyday to respond to hurting loved ones or distraught friends. Empathy is feeling the suffering of another being. When one is empathic, they not only feel another being’s suffering, but their body responds to it as if the threat is truly in their own body, eliciting a sense of fight/flight or danger based response. This is important to have in order to keep ourselves and others safe…..but at a certain point it may burn us out. Moving to a compassionate state is in contrast, very healthy for the body, our emotions and our brain. Compassion is ability to see another suffering, not be afraid of it and be responsive to it. We can not fix, save, or rescue someone from their suffering but rather support it.

Where empathy says:
“I feel your suffering”

Compassion says:
“I see your suffering”

Studies are showing consistently that compasssionate states bring us lower levels of depression, lower anxiety and higher levels of connection. A very different brain reaction from empathy. We need empathy, but only as a vehicle to bring us to compassion. As I write this, I’m actively doing my work to move back into a state of deep caring and compassion, but as an individual in my own body, with my own nervous system and my own brain, not that of another. How can this help you connect differently in your relationships?


The Minds in Motion team is excited to announce the addition of Dr. Phaedra Fegley to our practice to enhance the healing experience. Dr. Fegley will be working with the therapists at Minds in Motion as an adjunct to the healing process. Dr. Fegley is a board certified Family Practice Physician that is also certified in Functional Medicine. Our team has practiced and treated the body and mind as a whole system for the past several years. We recognize that the mind body connection is real. When we are faced with physical challenges/illnesses our emotional health can be affected. Consequently, when we are faced with emotional challenges our physiology can change, often resulting in illness. We believe, in many cases, we need to address the whole body and mind to move towards health and illicit lasting change. Functional medicine addresses the underlying issues that may be compromising mental health. Our goal at Minds in Motion is to find the most effective treatment, conventional or alternative, that addresses the symptoms of the individual patient. We strive to find the underlying causes, teach you to move through them and heal. Our goal is to empower you to know when things are moving towards misalignment in the future, thus enabling you to intervene with tools you have learned to stay present and healthy. Dr. Fegley will work with patients as a medical consultant using an in depth interview of 1/½ hours, functional medicine principles and lab testing to facilitate a patient’s path back to wholeness and health. Dr. Fegley is not considered your primary care physician and requires that you have your own physician for primary care needs. Patients working with Dr. Fegley need to be a current client of Minds in Motion with the philosophy of utilizing a team approach…you, your therapist, and/or nurse practitioner and a medical consult.


Angela Melzer / Meditation / January 19, 2018


You see mindfulness everywhere, the newspapers, 60 Minutes, and medical schools.  And yes, even a law school or two has prescribed to the idea that mindfulness is the best way to cultivate good lawyers.  The company, Google, has a mindfulness professional titled: “Sr. Manager, Well Being and High Performance Learning”. Oprah Winfrey jumped on the mindfulness bandwagon and has done some spectacular 21 day mindfulness challenges with Deepak Chopra. And the list goes on and on……

So what is mindfulness and what are the components that aren’t so sexy about practicing it?  I’m a licensed clinical social worker who has a background in occupational therapy. I practice mindfulness based counseling and coaching, and have been meditating daily since 2007.  Yes, that means I’m a new meditator.  It’s kind of like living in a ski town (which I do – Steamboat Springs, Colorado).  Nobody is a local unless you homesteaded the land and birthed your first child in a chuck wagon.


The definition of mindfulness is to kindly participate in your present moment with acceptance.  This is different from being present.  You can be present and still judge the situation, the people in it or your own actions or thoughts.  THIS IS NOT MINDFULNESS.    You must be present to be mindful, but you don’t need to be mindful to be present.  This is hard work and requires you to be aware of your thoughts.

There is a difference between mindfulness and meditation.  We use meditation in a formal practice to become more aware of our thoughts, beliefs and actions.  Mindfulness is a result of the work we do in our meditation.  We usually can’t have one without the other.

You will hear people say, “I can’t meditate, my brain is too busy”- that’s right! Meditating can and will be hard because most of us do have busy brains.  The unsexy part about meditation is that the brain is really busy and it can feel impossible when you start, and you will have an occasional busy brain for the rest of your meditating life.  It’s okay that it’s hard; every time you meditate you are in the process of changing your brain and calming down your sympathetic nervous system.

Meditation doesn’t have to look like happy young yoga people sitting on rocks by the ocean in black pants and a colorful tight tank top.  For some of my clients, it’s idling in their cars in front of the house before coming inside to the chaos.  For other clients, it’s lying down in bed because of back pain or other illnesses.  And yet again, it can be sitting and feeling like a war in our heads because of a busy day.  Let meditation be something that works for you.

Let yourself relax around some of the misconceptions and try it on for a while.  Mindfulness is not always sexy but it is a game changer, a life-long commitment and worth every bit of struggle and effort. Through mindfulness we gain peace, contentment and kindness in our lives and in the lives of those we love.

Copyright by Minds in Motion 2018. All rights reserved.