What is Yoga Therapy?
There is often some confusion when I say that I am a yoga therapist. For most, the term conjures up an image of a person teaching a yoga class or guiding clients into various stretching poses. One might imagine that yoga therapy is only available to people who are already flexible. Let me say, neither of those assumptions is accurate! Yoga therapy is very different from a yoga class. You do not have to have any experience in yoga, nor do you have to be flexible! Yoga therapy can benefit anyone.
The ancient system of yoga is actually much more than a series of poses. It incorporates wellness practices and lifestyle recommendations, mindfulness and visualization, breath work, practical philosophy and self-inquiry, diet recommendations, and physical postures to relieve pain and bring awareness to the mind-body connection.
Yoga therapy training is 900 hours on top of yoga teacher training, with a 9-month supervised practicum. It is basically equivalent to a master’s degree!
In my training, I have gained knowledge of Ayurveda (the oldest system of medicine in the world), the subtle body and chakras, anatomy and physiology, yoga philosophy, and mental-health-oriented practices. I have experience leading themed groups and classes, and adjusting yoga postures for those with arthritis.
In yoga therapy we do not diagnose or treat. Instead, you are welcomed into a safe, non-judgmental space where your existence as a whole person is welcomed. Assessment of your condition is broadened beyond your physical symptoms to include your surrounding environment, diet and lifestyle, support at home, socioeconomic history, adverse childhood events, societal influences and culture, and family structure. All of this is interconnected and can play a role in your wellness or illness — that’s what it means to have a whole-person approach.
Yoga therapy works well as a complementary therapy to other medical care you are already receiving. I am happy to consult with your doctor or therapist (with your permission), answer any of their questions, and pass on articles and information about yoga’s benefits for specific health conditions.
You can read more about the distinction between a yoga class and a yoga therapy session here.