What is Yoga Therapy?
By definition, yoga therapy is “the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and wellbeing through the application of the teachings and practices of Yoga.” International Association of Yoga Therapists
Basically, that means yoga has many therapeutic benefits and can be an important part of any health and wellness program. Embraced by many Americans, yoga complements western medicine and can help patients avoid unnecessary medications, suffering and possibly even surgery.
In essence, yoga therapy bridges the gap between traditional yoga and western medicine healthcare.
How Does Yoga Therapy Differ from Yoga or Physical Therapy?
Yoga in general is very much about the whole person and includes all aspects of the body, breath, mind, intellect and emotion. You’ll find the postures in yoga help stretch and align your body, connecting your breathing with your movements.
Some people start yoga for its relaxing nature, others start yoga due to an injury or health condition. While all yoga is considered therapeutic; the main difference is that yoga therapy focuses on health and healing at the holistic level.
Yoga vs. Yoga Therapy
With a regular yoga class, you’ll find the class structure and content is usually global, attempting to meet the many needs of all those present in a given class.
In yoga therapy, the process allows the yoga therapist to be the facilitator with the emphasis on student centered empowerment and connection to his or her own true source so that wellness and healing can occur.
Yoga therapy is also led by teachers who have been specifically trained to work with patients suffering from different health conditions.
Physical Therapy vs. Yoga Therapy
In physical therapy, many therapists use targeted stretches, deep tissue massages, exercises with tools such as a Therabands or foam rollers, or heat and ice therapy at home. Physical therapy targets a specific injury or condition, not necessarily the whole person.
Yoga therapy is very much about the whole person, complementing physical therapy, by taking into account that there might be an emotional or lifestyle element in addition to a physical element that is causing the pain.
“Under the tutelage of Claudia, I have learned that we are whole and beautiful just the way we are. This is a starting point for our yoga journey every week. Claudia’s non-judgmental approach enables us to grow as she gently nudges us toward the rewards of being stronger and more supple in mind and body with breathing, stretching and core strength exercises. Claudia acknowledges and incorporates her student’s physical and spiritual needs into our practice.
I keep going to class each week because I know I will leave with gifts from her. After class I have a better self-image. I am more calm. I am physically centered and have a positive awareness of capabilities and possibilities.”
Yoga therapy develops your self-knowledge and a self-realization using the tools of yoga, such as:
- Asanas, or physical postures, help with aches and pains
- Pranayama, or breathing practices, help organ functions, restful sleep, stress management and energy levels
- Other yoga tools include: meditation, mantra (sound, word or phrase), and mudra (posture or movement of the hands).
As a certified yoga therapist, I will help you create a life plan one session at a time, teaching you how to use these tools.