What is Yoga Therapy, and how can it help me?
The International Association of Yoga Therapy (IAYT) defines yoga therapy as, "the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of Yoga." Yoga Therapy is an integrative and holistic practice that is tailored specifically for the individual. Oftentimes individuals come to yoga therapy with a specific goal in mind, or as a way to find relief from physical or emotional pain. Yoga therapy is transformative in nature, and seeks to help individuals find greater happiness, health, and vitality in their lives. Yoga can be tailored for all walks of life.
In my many years as a yoga therapist, I have worked with clients who have many different circumstances and life conditions, including: cancer, Parkinson's Disease, stroke, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, dementia, low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, spondylolithesis, auto-immune disorders, lymphedema, back injuries, sacroiliac dysfunction, thyroid issues, eating disorders, trauma, PTSD, anxiety, & depression. For each client, I create a unique program tailored specifically to their needs.
An increasing number of scientific studies support the positive effects of yoga on a wide variety of health conditions, including low back pain, high blood pressure, cancer, asthma, low back pain, carpel tunnel syndrome, and PTSD. Click here to explore some of the scientific research about yoga.
Yoga Therapy may help you:
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Reduce pain and inflammation
- Manage the symptoms of a chronic illness or condition
- Improve balance, posture, flexibility, and strength
- Decrease muscle tension and stiffness
- Help prevent or rehabilitate injuries
- Improve range of motion and healthy joint function
- Decrease insomnia and fatigue
- Increase self awareness & engage in self inquiry
- Learn tools to support greater self care
Yoga Therapy utilizes a variety of tools, depending on the needs of the individual. A trained yoga therapist works with you to understand your specific needs and goals, and then tailors a practice specifically for you. In a yoga therapy practice, you are encouraged to communicate with your therapist and to move at a pace that feels right for you on all levels: body, mind, and spirit.
Some of the elements that may be incorporated into a yoga therapy practice are:
- Asana (physical postures and stretches)
- Postural and gait assessment
- Pranayama (breathing techniques)
- Mantra (chanting)
- Guided imagery
- Self inquiry
- Lifestyle adjustments
- Self care techniques
How is Yoga Therapy different from a yoga class?
Both yoga classes and yoga therapy are wonderful experiences with great therapeutic potential. They do, however, have several differences. Yoga classes are typically taught to a group and may be offered in a specific style (such as Iyengar, Hatha, Kundalini, etc.), while yoga therapy is a one-on-one practice that is tailored specifically to the individual.
What is the difference between a Certified Yoga Therapist and a Certified Yoga Instructor?
The difference between a yoga instructor and yoga therapist lies in both focus and training.
- Yoga instructors can be certified to teach yoga after completing a 200-hour training program. Yoga instructors often teach group yoga classes that may be offered in a specific style. While many yoga teachers may be skilled at adapting yoga for the needs of their students, a group yoga class tends to be more general in nature in order to accommodate the needs of many individuals in a class.
- IAYT certified yoga therapists must have a minimum of 800 hours of yoga therapy training, plus a 200 hour yoga teacher training certification. Yoga therapists are trained to blend both Eastern and Western healing modalities, and to adapt yoga for those with specific injuries, illnesses, or special conditions. Yoga Therapists work one-on-one with their clients and develop specialized practices and protocols for their needs.