“Yoga therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of Yoga.”
-International Association of Yoga Therapists
If you asked 10 yoga therapists, 'what is yoga therapy?' you may get 10 different answers; what's amazing is the fact that all 10 answers are likely to be true. This is because the depth and breadth of yoga practices are vast. The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) have set standards and criteria for credentialing, which is quite extensive, but it is just the beginning for most. It has been my experience that people who are in this field are perpetual students. We are curiously looking for the next layer and depth of practice for ourselves and for our students.
Practices commonly used during a yoga therapy session:
Most yoga therapists have additional backgrounds in such disciplines as neuroscience, anatomy, kinesiology, dance, massage therapy, martial arts, allopathic health care, Ayurveda and so on… all of which influence their particular style of yoga therapy. Yoga therapy is an intuitive art, each therapist brings his or her own healing gifts to their clients.
Isn’t all yoga therapeutic?
It is true that yoga has demonstrated to have numerous health benefits. It is also true that not all types of yoga are appropriate for all people. With growing popularity of fitness and performance orientation in some modern thoughts of yoga, especially here in the West, it is important to understand that yoga therapy is much different than taking a yoga class.
Yoga classes are generally taken by a group of individuals. The same set of practices are given to all practitioners with the objective to lower stress, enhance flexibility, stamina, strength and mental calmness. Group classes are not tailored to address specific health concerns of individuals.
No two people are the same, so in a yoga therapy session the practices vary, even between individuals with the same health conditions. For example, two people with breast cancer may vary in personal constitution, disease severity, stage of treatment, and the amount of time they are able to dedicate to their yoga practice. Each may also have different comorbidities to consider. A yoga therapist tailors the practice to meet each client where they are and support them on their journey toward well-being.