What is Yoga Therapy?

Me, Heather Robbins, teaching meditation @ Riverton Pavilion Hall, Riverton WA

Although all yoga potentially offers therapeutic benefits for many, Yoga Therapy is a specialised modality that works synonymous with other Health Care Practitioners and services. It is a world-wide, complementary and personalised therapy with a growing scientific evidence base.

Therapeutic Yoga is the specialised application of yogic tools—postures/exercises, breathwork, meditation techniques, and more—to address an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional needs, or those of a small group.

Recently re-defined by the International Association of Yoga Therapists:

Yoga therapy is the professional application of the principles and practices of yoga to promote health and well-being within a therapeutic relationship that includes personalised assessment, goal setting, lifestyle management, and yoga practices for individuals or small groups. A Yoga Therapist goes through in-depth Post Graduate training, minimum of 3 years, to help assess and keep their clients safe. They work with you to address your specific goals so each consultation is “client led” and patient centered. They also consider any limitations you might be experiencing. The practices your yoga therapist recommends could include:

A yoga therapist has to complete a Post Graduate, scientifically informed, training which is a minimum of 2 years. Each therapist is equipped with a  current scientific knowledge base for ensuring the industry’s high standards are maintained. A minimum of 2 years of professional yoga teaching is a pre-requisite before applying to commence a yoga therapy training.  

Yoga therapists work closely with individuals and small groups to address specific health and well-being goals. They are trained to consider and adapt to the physical and mental limitations of each individual.   The applied techniques a yoga therapist with use may include:

  • Movement ranging from gentle to strong
  • Breathing practices
  • Meditation or visualization techniques
  • Physical postures that address specific areas of discomfort, pain or musculoskeletal imbalances
  • Empowering their clients to explore ways to manage pain, trauma, anxiety, depression, stress to name a few 
  • A combination of all of these and more!

It will depend on what you and your body may need in order to address your current health concerns and aim to support your well-being journey.

Many people first learn about yoga through the practice of poses, whether on social media or in a local gym. It is easy to mis-understand that yoga is all about stretching or movement. In fact, therapeutic yoga can assist those who can’t move at all, as well as active individuals, no fancy lycra is needed!

The yogic model of health is unique because it addresses every aspect of life rather than considering each body part or system separately. Therapeutic yoga is a safe way of working with the natural capacity of your body and mind to optimize well-being.

A general public yoga class can certainly ease everyday aches, pains, and mood complaints. But a Yoga Therapy session, whether one-on-one or in a small group, goes much further because it is tailored to the individual.

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