Yoga Therapy

Yoga Therapy

Individually tailored yoga practice and lifestyle changes to find true wellbeing

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How can yoga therapy nourish you?

Yoga therapy empowers[1] individuals to progress toward improved health and wellbeing through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga. A yoga therapist[2] is an experienced yoga teacher with additional qualifications, specialised skills and knowledge in the application of yoga within a therapeutic setting.

T.KV. Desikachar opened Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram[3] in 1976 in Madras India based on the teachings of his father Krishnamacharya[4] who taught in a traditionally therapeutic one-to-one style and has been credited with bringing yoga into worldwide awareness.  This centre has run programs for thousands of students requiring therapeutic support. Whilst yoga therapy is rooted in the ancient practice of yoga, it became widely known in the western world in the 1980s as the result of a study conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish[5]. The study illustrated how the implementation of a healthy lifestyle program could reverse heart disease. 

Yoga therapists study an additional 1000 hours to gain their qualification[6]. Many also have other forms of therapeutic qualification such as psychology or physiotherapy and so use their yoga therapy qualification to increase their capacity to provide clients with tools to bring about healing. 

The practices of yoga traditionally include but are not limited to, asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra, chanting, mudra, ritual, and a disciplined lifestyle. Yoga therapy is the appropriate application of these teachings and practices in a therapeutic context[7] to support a consistent yoga practice that will increase self-awareness and engage the client/student’s energy in the direction of desired goals.

Yoga therapy[8] is that component of the broader framework of yoga that is within the parameters of science, whereas yoga is to go beyond science and come to that which cannot be measured.

Benefits of yoga therapy

Yoga therapy is very much based on the presenting individual and their particular pathway back to health, away from the many symptoms that cause humans to suffer[9]. It provides tools for the client to incorporate in their lives and work towards their best version of self, using enhanced cognition to navigate the increasing demands of society and upcoming challenges. 

There is a continual and growing evidence base of research[10] related to various human conditions that illustrates how yoga therapy works to address these, seeking their root cause and assisting the individual to come back to their natural healthy state. Whilst each individual must follow their own unique pathway, Yoga therapy may assist in relieving symptoms related to:

Achilles tendonitis
Acquired brain injury (ABI)
ADD/ADHD
Alcohol and drug addiction
Allergies
Anger management
Anorexia, bulimia and eating disorders
Anxiety
Arthritis, rheumatism and osteoarthritis
Asthma
Back pain
Balance, stability and coordination
Bladder issues and incontinence
Blood pressure
Brain fog and clarity
Bronchitis
Cancer
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)
Cerebral palsy
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME)
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Circulation and cardiovascular conditions
Colds and flu
Concentration, focus and problem solving
Concussion and whiplash
Confidence and self-esteem
Constipation
Crohn’s disease
Cystic fibrosis
Depression
Diabetes
Digestive and gastrointestinal issues
Energy and vitality
Fertility and reproductive issues
Headaches and migraines
Heart conditions and heart attack
Hips and pelvis
Hypertension
IBS and bowel disorders
Immunity issues
Inflammation and swelling
Insomnia and sleep disorders
Menopause and hot flushes
Mental health
Mobility and movement
Mood imbalances
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Muscle spasm, tightness and cramps
Muscle strain and injury
Neck pain
Nervous system and neurological conditions
Osteoporosis and bone density
Pain relief
PMT/PMS and menstrual issues
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Posture and spine issues
Pregnancy, birth and antenatal support
PTSD and trauma
Relaxation
Sadness
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Stress and tension
Stroke
Vomiting and nausea
Weight control and obesity
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What to expect from a yoga therapy session

A yoga therapy session is likely to be one-to-one but might also occur in specialist groups, such as yoga for people with breast cancer and yoga for post-traumatic stress syndrome or a group therapeutic class for those with a variety of therapeutic needs. The initial session will include an extensive assessment to determine the best applications of the teachings to progress the individual towards health and well-being. 

It’s important to note that yoga therapy is suitable for everybody[11] regardless of age, fitness, state of health or belief system or prior experience of yoga.

A yoga therapy session usually runs for 60 to 90 minutes. You would expect to attend more than one session as you and your yoga therapist work to determine the most effective physical yoga practices, cleansing, dietary and/or breathing techniques.

According to the Australian Association of Yoga Therapists[12], a session may include yoga practices such as asana (postures), pranayama (breathwork), relaxation, meditation, mudra (energetic gestures and seals), bandha (energy locks), mantra (sacred sounds), bhavana (imagery), sankalpa (affirmation/intention), yogic lifestyle and nutrition advice according to a yoga framework, education in yoga philosophy, and other practices steeped in the yoga tradition and for which the therapist has received appropriate training, certification and registration.

Yoga therapy is a complementary modality and works as an adjunct to any existing medical framework.Yoga therapists are not permitted to medically diagnose, send you for medical tests or give advice outside their scope of practice so please consult your medical professional for these needs. 

References

  1. Definition of a Yoga Therapist | Yoga Australia
  2. What is Yoga Therapy | Australasian Association of Yoga Therapy
  3. T. K. V. Desikachar | Wikipedia
  4. History of Yoga: Krishnamacharya's Legacy: Modern Yoga&'s Inventor | yogajournal
  5. Yoga Therapy | GoodTherapy
  6. Find a Training Program | Australasian Association of Yoga Therapists
  7. Yoga Therapist | Yoga Australia
  8. What is Yoga Therapy | The Yoga Shack
  9. Yoga experts share research and experience about how yoga heals what ails us | YogaHive
  10. Member Resource: IAYT Research Summaries | International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT)
  11. About Yoga Therapy | Yoga Therapy Australia
  12. What is Yoga Therapy? | Australasian Association of Yoga Therapists