What is Yoga Therapy?
Have you ever wondered why one type of yoga practice benefits one person and wreaks havoc on someone else? You are not alone. We are multi-faceted, complex, fascinating creatures and we all need to take different approaches to health and wellness. That’s where yoga therapy comes in.
Yoga therapy is not a new field, but it is getting a lot more attention in the West recently. Yoga therapy takes into consideration the unique needs, health history, postural alignment, past injuries, personality, lifestyle, goals and Ayurvedic constitution of each individual. Ayurveda means “the science of life” and is oftentimes referred to as the “sister science of yoga.” Ayurveda provides a framework of healing and finding balance based on assessing each individual’s unique combination of qualities.
Often, clients meet with the yoga therapist 1:1, but there is also a growing number of yoga therapy group classes, like “Yoga Therapy for Depression” or “Yoga Therapy for Chronic Pain,” popping up in hospitals, yoga studios, and clinics.
Yoga Therapy Empowers the Individual
As a yoga therapist, my hope is to work myself out of a job. The yoga therapy model is not a magic pill solution, but rather empowers clients to take their health and wellness into their own hands by building a deep sense of body and mind awareness. When we check in with our true needs, desires, and physical sensations on a daily basis, it becomes easier and easier to make choices that align with this truth.
“Your Shoulder is Not Bad, Because You are Not Bad”
One of the most common things I hear from clients is that they want help with their “bad hip, bad shoulder, bad knee,” etc. Because yoga therapy takes into consideration the whole human through a holistic lens, I challenge this notion of “bad.” You are not bad. Your body is not bad. You certainly may be experiencing pain, discomfort, stress, or fatigue, but there is nothing inherently wrong with who you are.
One of the things I find most attractive about yoga therapy is that it does not condemn. The reason why it has been both personally and professionally so profound for me is that instead of seeing the world through a polarizing lens of “right or wrong,” yoga therapy seeks to truly see, understand, hear, and support each unique individual.
Everything can be a poison or a medicine, depending on what the individual needs in the moment. For example, one person might go kickboxing and feel like anger has been released. Another person’s anger will increase. Is kickboxing inherently calming or aggravating? The answer is neither and both. It depends on the individual.
Yoga Therapy is Not the Same as Gentle Yoga
Very often, regular yoga classes are described as therapeutic, healing, gentle, restorative, etc., but this does not mean they fall under yoga therapy.
In a yoga therapy session, an individual’s specific health history, personality, habits, goals, physicality, and Ayurvedic makeup is taken into consideration. It’s possible that one client’s treatment plan will include gentle yoga, but it’s also possible that a client would benefit from a more powerful, strength-building practice.
Is Yoga Therapy Right for You?
Whether you are looking for deep relaxation, recovering from an injury, or searching for practical ways to bring your yoga off the mat and into your daily life, yoga therapy has so much to offer you. Merging ancient wisdom with modern functional movement training, yoga therapy will give you the tools to move your body efficiently and with ease, building greater body awareness and mindfulness.