Yoga therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and wellbeing through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga.
-The International Association of Yoga Therapy (IAYT)
What is Yoga Therapy?
Yoga therapy is a relatively new and growing field that applies the principles and practices of yoga towards the goal of improved health and well-being. While yoga therapy can be used to deal with specific physical or emotional issues, such as injuries, chronic illness, anxiety or depression, it is not the same as Western medicine or psychotherapy.
Yoga therapists do not diagnose, treat or cure diseases. Rather, they help clients utilize yogic practices to improve underlying mental and emotional health, which in turn can empower the mind/body system to heal itself.
The yoga therapist is not doing the yoga for the client; the client learns practices from the yoga therapist and incorporates them into their regular routine.
For example, a patient with cancer might turn to a yoga therapist for help with pain. The yoga therapist might suggest some restorative postures and pranayama breathing techniques to be practiced at home. The cancer patient, by doing these practices, may feel a reduction in pain and a greater feeling of health and energy. The yoga therapist did not diagnose or cure the cancer - the yoga is simply there to support the body's overall immune system and general resilience.
Why you might see a yoga therapist:
- To encourage healing from physical issues such as pain, injury or muscle weakness.
- To improve overall health and immune function in cases of chronic illness.
- To enhance mood and reduce stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression.
- To create better overall health and well-being through yogic practices.