What is Yoga Therapy?
A yoga class can be hugely beneficial. It can improve body awareness and well-being, and it can address a lot of the aches and pains from which we all suffer occasionally. Yoga Therapy takes this further and allows the therapist to use the tools learned in yoga to work in a more tailored way with clients across a wide range of health issues.
I am a qualified Yoga Therapist and a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists. I am also a qualified Yoga Teacher and a member of the British Wheel of Yoga. It is easy to understand what a Yoga Teacher does, but the role and scope of a Yoga Therapist is not so widely known. To qualify with the International Association of Yoga Therapists you are required to complete in excess of 800 hours of training, complete 150 case studies, and do a substantial amount of self-study.
The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) describes Yoga Therapy as:
“The process of empowering individuals toward improved health and well-being through application of the teachings and practices of Yoga”
“Yoga Therapy is the professional application of the principles 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”
Yoga Therapy is a complementary therapy that works well alongside other treatments. Yoga Therapists do not diagnose or treat diseases, but they have undertaken an in-depth training to enable them to use the tools found in yoga to help people dealing with a variety of health conditions. These may include pain management, neurological issues, mental health, major illnesses, or supporting healthy aging and general well-being.
In the West, we have become more familiar with the physical practices of yoga and some classes almost have the feel of an exercise class. This is not a criticism, and these classes are exactly what many people need and enjoy. However, yoga in a class setting might not be appropriate for some people because of an injury or illness, a health condition or simply personal preference.
A Yoga Therapist usually works with a client on a one-to-one basis, but might also work with a small group. Yoga Therapy is an empowering process where clients work with the Therapist to address their unique needs.
In Yoga Therapy we look at the body as a whole, as everything is connected. Sometimes the pain we feel in one area may be the result of an issue in another. It might be a functional movement issue, or it might be related to and old injury or where we carry stress in the body. There can be many factors that can contribute to the problem.
Yoga Therapy sessions are tailored to each client’s requirements and specific goals. Having a goal to work towards can be a useful way to provide a focus and a way to measure progress over a course of sessions.
Depending on the client’s needs, a yoga therapy session might include yoga poses, work on improving functional range of movement, restorative practices, breathing and relaxation techniques, meditation, and discussions about how to introduce some of the techniques we have been working on into the client’s everyday life. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. Even very gentle techniques like improving breathing and overall breath awareness can be very powerful and can be used in a variety of situations. The aim is to help our clients improve body awareness and to have techniques they can use to help themselves find more ease and to be able to enjoy the activities they want to do.
If you would like to find out more, or you think that you or someone you know might benefit from this approach, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
For more information on Yoga Therapy, please check the link to the International Association of Yoga Therapists website: www.iayt.org