Yoga Therapy, what is it?

woman doing yoga pose facing sea
Photo by Nathan Cowley on


Yoga Therapy is a form of yoga geared towards individuals with specific needs weather they be psychological, physical or anything in between. Combined with Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy helps individuals to take their health into their own hands through self-empowerment and a regular practice designed for them. A main aspect of Yoga Therapy (and yoga in general) is to increase self awareness within the body and to help change the relationship and the way we identify with our own senses.

Yoga Therapy is based on 3 perspectives which can be used together or separately. The first principle of Yoga Therapy is to help students gain a sense pf power, weather this be to develop muscular strength, obtain a difficult pose or give them the power to work extended periods of time otherwise unavailable to them. The second perspective is the use of Yoga Therapy to heal specific problems such as ailments or eliminating impurities within the organs (doshas). Also specific imbalances such as chakras and the channels (nadis) of the body can be cleared using specific asanas depending on the individual. The last perspective is the use of Yoga Therapy to go beyond the physical understanding into the unlimited sense of self. This can be very beneficial for sick patients whose bodies have turned on them and they need to find this higher power and inner stillness to remind them that they exist beyond their physical condition and pains.

Yoga Therapy is specific to each individual depending on many things such age, culture, time of year, learning style, personality and many more factors. Yoga therapists prescribe specific regimens, postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques to fit their individuals needs. This form of therapy focuses not just on the mind or on the body, as other forms of therapy do, but it focuses on the individual as a whole facilitating growth of the mind, body and spirit. The Yoga Therapist realizes that where their client is hurting is not always the source of the pain and by questioning, observing, and appropriately touching hopefully the root cause can be discovered and addressed. Through the unification of body, breath, and concentration while performing postures blockages of energy may be cleared.

There are 4 principals which underlie the teachingof Yoga Therapy. These include 1) that the human body is comprised of many different dimensions which are interrelated, and the health or illness of any of these dimensions will affect the other ones. 2) Individuals needs are unique, so each person should have a plan that is tailored to and appropriate for them. 3) Yoga is a self-empowering practice where the self becomes the healer and autonomy is achieved. Finally, 4) The quality and state of the individuals mind will critically differentiate healing from stagnation. The more positive the mindset the faster healing will enter the body, and vice versa.

According to the American Medical Association, more than 80% of illnesses are caused by stress. This astonishing number makes us realize that we are in need of a holistic healing art, and not a one size fits all pill we can take. With the help of Yoga Therapy we can go deeper and address specific needs that may not be fully covered in a group class, alleviating more stress and concerns for each person. These methods are not new to us, they actually date back to Patanjali and his Yoga Sutras and also to the ancient system of Ayurvedic health care. There is real science proven that yoga can make a physical difference in the body, we can see this in the amount of oxygen and nutrients that enter the organs and cartilage when they are stretched. This fresh supply of nutrients can help with chronic fatigue, arthritis, and other problems. Yoga Therapy also can be used as a compliment to traditional medicine. Even if it is not a clients only form of treatment, even cancer patients have been scientifically proven to benefit from yoga as an offset to their chemotherapy treatment.

Yoga Therapy is starting to make strides as a certifiable healing method as more scientific research is taking place and more and more people are experiencing the miracles. In 2003 there were just 5 yoga-therapy training programs in the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) data base; now today there are over 130 worldwide. More than 500 research papers on yoga therapy have been published in peer reviewed journals with double blind studies. – Many diseases such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and many more are diseases of disembodiment. Through Yoga Therapy we can increase our introceptiveness and bring awareness into the body which is vital to our health and well being.


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