Yoga and Yoga Therapy

Yoga and yoga therapy differ from each other in several ways. Yoga therapy is specific to healing and prevention while yoga is about learning the aspects related to the discipline. Yoga can be provided as a complete therapy dealing with specific issues or to supplement other treatments. It has no age limitation and its techniques vary from simple to complicated.  There are a few ways that yoga differs from yoga therapy and to understand them we have to first define them.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is a spiritual discipline originating from India comprising of meditation, specific body postures, and breathing exercises. Yoga therapy is any technique in yoga applied methodically to deal with pain or physical injury, trauma, emotional and mental stress. It uses breathing exercises, meditation, yoga postures, and guided imagery in the enhancement of physical and mental health. It incorporates aspects of psychotherapy and physiotherapy to embrace a wide range of therapeutic methods.

Purpose for Seeking a Session

Clients in a yoga therapy class come to get relief from their persisting health conditions while those in a yoga class are there to learn what it is all about. Sessions in therapeutic yoga center on how yoga techniques enable clients to improve functionality, while in yoga the focus is on the techniques of yoga practice. Classes are usually organized in small groups or one-on-one.

Instructor Content in Classes

Yoga teachers concentrate on appropriate ways of training students on yoga methods using educational or instructional approaches. Yoga therapists address client needs by finding ways to improve functionality, manage symptoms, and change attitudes related to health conditions. They determine suitable goals, create an intervention, and train clients to apply the intervention. Yoga techniques are specifically chosen depending on how they will support your healing.

Where The Therapy Is Applied

The application of yoga therapy is currently being applied on several conditions and ailments including the treatment of,

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Children with autism
  • Issues surrounding substance abuse
  • Schizophrenia and posttrumatic stress disorder
  • Physical health matters such as back pain, asthma, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, heart conditions, chronic fatigue, and to control chemotherapy side effects.
  • It can be applied in the maintenance and prevention of physical and mental health conditions.

Benefits of Yoga Therapy

Therapeutic yoga is carried out in varying forms depending on the training of the therapist. For example, physical therapists use yoga practice in massage delivery. The benefits include the following irrespective of where it is applied.

  • It increases mindfulness
  • It reduces stress and leads to a decrease in blood pressure
  • It leads to increased energy levels enabling better performance
  • It helps to relieve some types of chronic pain
  • It may assist in the management of obesity and risk factors for type 2 diabetes
  • It slows down your pulse rate reducing cardiovascular diseases
  • It decreases depression and anxiety
  • It leads to enhanced mental capacity and reduces age related cognitive decline
  • It is a treatment for sleep disorders
  • It increases mental and physical strength
  • It enhances your body’s ability to balance

What is Mindful Yoga Therapy?

Mindfulness is defined as a particular way of paying attention purposefully, in the current situation and in a non-judgmental manner. Mindful yoga therapy is a compilation of yoga techniques clinically tested for use in the treatment of psycho-emotional stress such as post-traumatic stress. The mindfulness component of this therapy is made up of two basic elements, taking note of the present moment and sustaining an acceptance attitude with non-judgment.

It has been most commonly applied on veterans experiencing extreme symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorders, enhancing their recovery. Apart from veterans, mindful yoga therapy also helps people facing conditions such as eating disorders, domestic violence, and central nervous system ailments. Victims of traumatic events and individuals struggling with alcohol and drug addiction can also benefit from mindful yoga.

Yoga Therapy Training

Therapeutic yoga is a fairly new concept and there is no common understanding on exact qualifications, length and type of training necessary. Yoga therapy training is not regulated by state or federal governments therefore there are no accreditation procedures. As a rule, the extent of training required is based on the nature of therapy you will be involved with, the category of clients and the kind of issues they will consult you for. It is determined by your previous experience and training in the field you will provide therapy for. Yoga therapists count on a number of essential knowledge, experience and skill areas, these include:

  • A specific in-depth knowledge of human anatomy for health problems in which soft tissue and bone alignment impacts majorly. E.g. carpal tunnel syndrome
  • The application and modification of yoga practice on individuals with varying health states, either emotional or physical.
  • A clear understanding of Holistic Living and Health Care
  • A basic understanding in pharmacology to provide guidance on medical treatment side effects and how to adapt yoga to counter them.
  • Thorough knowledge on yoga techniques, philosophy and teaching skills.
  • Extensive knowledge and a clear understanding of the relationship between alternative healing such as Ayurveda and yoga.
  • An insight into the human physiology as to recognize warning signs in case of critical health issues necessitating immediate medical care.
  • A foundation on diet and nutrition
  • Ethical business procedures to assist in the operation of a therapeutic yoga practice

Several ways exist through which therapists can become proficient in their yoga therapy training. They can go through at least 500 hours of yoga teacher training (YTT) and related education.

They can also train in yoga therapy, engage in professional courses specific to the therapy area, and read books. Working as an apprentice and pursuing on-the-job training techniques is another way to equip a therapist with continuous knowledge flow.

Whatever, your reason for seeking out yoga therapy, it is essential to be straightforward to yoga professionals about your objectives. The therapy has been proven overtime to benefit people suffering from various ailments and conditions so it would be great to try and see if it works for you.

The more clear you are the more exacting your Results will be! Sometimes working with a coach to determine exactly what your Desires are is very important!


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Author: Esateys Stuchiner

Esateys (pronounced Ee sáh teez) is an International Life Transformational Speaker, Author, Master Facilitator, Life Coach and Expert in the Human condition. She is a Nationally and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. For over 30 years, she has practiced, taught and lectured extensively in the allopathic and alternative medicine field.

Esateys is known for her groundbreaking work in the areas of personal empowerment and health restoration using mindset and inner connection as the catalyst for all change.

Esateys describes herself as the ‘Architect of the New You’ and has dedicated her life and professional career to helping her clients create “New Beginnings” by facilitating self empowerment, economic freedom and restored health.

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