What is Yoga Therapy?
Although all yoga is potentially therapeutic and healing, yoga therapy is the specific application of yogic tools—postures/exercises, breathwork, meditation techniques, and more—to address an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional needs. Many people first learn about yoga through its physical practices, but a common misconception is that it’s all about stretching or movement. In fact, yoga therapy can help people who can’t move at all, as well as active individuals!
The yogic model of health is unique because it addresses every aspect of life rather than considering each body part or system separately. Yoga therapy 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 goes much further because it is tailored to the individual.
Yoga therapists have in-depth training to help them assess and keep their clients safe. They work with you to address your specific goals while considering any limitations you might be experiencing. The practices your yoga therapist recommends could include:
- Movement ranging from gentle to vigorous
- Breathing techniques
- Meditation or visualization practices
- Physical postures that address specific areas of discomfort or musculoskeletal imbalances
- Any combination of tools like these!
It all depends on what you need to increase your health and well-being.
What Do Yoga Therapists Do?
Yoga therapy aligns with a biopsychosocial-spiritual approach to wellness and is increasingly included in university and continuing education curricula for healthcare providers.
Many practicing yoga therapists also hold licenses in other health fields. Yoga therapy can complement physical, occupational, and massage therapy; psychotherapy; and more. Although they do not diagnose or treat diseases unless they are otherwise licensed to do so, IAYT-certified yoga therapists are trained in anatomy, physiology, and mental health; this allows them to interact with clients’ other healthcare professionals effectively and to competently suggest referrals when needed.
How Can Yoga Therapy Help?
Yoga therapy meets people where they are, connecting them to their own innate healing potential. Yoga therapy clients report experiencing improved mood, decreased stress and chronic pain, and more. See a sample list of research articles on yoga therapy and yoga.