BY VRITIKA JHUNJHUNWALA
Yoga therapy is a type of therapy that uses yoga postures, breathing exercises, meditation, and guided imagery to improve mental and physical health. The holistic focus of yoga therapy encourages the integration of mind, body, and spirit. Modern yoga therapy covers a broad range of therapeutic modalities, incorporating elements from both physical therapy and psychotherapy.
The founding phase of Yoga Therapy
Yoga therapy is practised in a wide range of formats. Physical therapists, for example, often implement yoga techniques in their delivery of massage and other treatments. Yoga therapy practice can resemble physical therapy, rehabilitative therapy, and/or psychotherapy. Unlike a standard yoga class, yoga therapy sessions are typically conducted in one-on-one or small group settings. Yoga therapy can be provided as an adjunct therapy to complement other forms of treatment, or it can be used to directly treat a specific issue. Yoga techniques range from simple to advanced and can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Yoga therapy is rooted in the ancient practice of yoga, which originated thousands of years ago in India. Yoga made its way to the United States in the late 1800s, but yoga therapy emerged in a formal manner in the 1980s as the result of a study conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish. The study illustrated how the implementation of a healthy lifestyle program could reverse heart disease. Ornish’s program included therapeutic yoga and was the first of its kind to highlight the benefits of using yoga in this way. This program for treating heart disease was approved for insurance coverage in 1990 and it marked the beginning of the medical field’s acceptance of yoga as a treatment option. In 1983, the Biomedical Yoga Trust was founded to further develop and standardize the field of yoga therapy. The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) was founded in 1989 and has since hosted yoga conferences, published the Journal of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, and contributed to the creation of yoga therapy training standards. Both organizations have facilitated research to explore the extent of yoga therapy’s potential.
The process and the method
During a Yoga therapy session, the therapist will first conduct an initial assessment. This assessment is designed to identify health problems, assess lifestyle and physical capability, discuss reasons for seeking therapy and create a course of treatment. Once the treatment plan is established in this first consultation, the frequency of sessions is agreed upon and sessions are scheduled.
The assessment is followed by breathing exercises where the therapist will guide the person in therapy through a series of breathing exercises ranging from energizing breaths to balancing breath which is followed by physical postures (Asanas) and meditation that involves relaxation and mindfulness combined with yoga poses. Meditation is followed by guided imagery where the yoga therapist attempts to calm the body and mind by providing a guided visualization intended to bring inner peace.
Rather than focusing on yoga methods and practices, yoga therapists fundamentally focus on their clients’ needs. Their job is to understand why their clients have come to see them and determine what they can do to support them. To help them in their work, therapists are trained to assess clients through listening, questioning, observing, and appropriately touching. Therapists look for ways to help their clients reduce or manage their symptoms, improve their function, and help them with their attitude in relation to their health conditions. After assessing clients, therapists establish appropriate goals, develop a practice intervention, and then teach clients to practice that intervention. In this sense, therapists choose yoga techniques in relation to how they will specifically benefit individual clients.
Classes in Yoga Therapy
While India is the birthplace of Yoga and the country is brimming with countless yoga centers, some among the deserve mention due to their unique contributions to the field of Yoga While standard yoga classes provide a more generalized approach to movement, and sometimes to meditation, yoga therapy adapts the practice of yoga to the needs of people with specific or persistent health problems not usually addressed in a group class.
Yoga therapy is based on a view of the individual as wholeness. For true health to occur, all aspects of a person must be addressed as a whole. Many forms of yoga therapy, such as Integrative Yoga Therapy, use the ancient Vedic model of the Five Koshas as a framework for creating holistic healing and transformation.
Basically, yoga therapy uses the ancient science of yoga to enhance health and wellness at all levels of the person: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Yoga therapy focuses on the path of yoga as a healing journey that brings balance to all aspects of life through an experiential awakening of our essential nature. Yoga therapy is useful both for people who seek relief for specific health challenges, as well as for people who want to enjoy good health, prevent disease, and slow the progression of ageing.
Yoga Therapy teaching courses in India
No.16, 21st Main Road,Anna Nagar, West, Chennai -600 040. Tamil Nadu, India
Ph# : +91 44 4551 3701
Vrindavanam, Kurakkani, Varkala, Thiruvanathapuram District, Kerala 695141
Shri Yogendra Marg, Prabhat Colony, Santacruz East, Mumbai – 400055, India.
Anandkunj Rd, Karanjfen, Maharashtra 416215
Phone: 094230 41265
Upper Tapovan, Baba Balaknath Temple Street, Tapovan, Near LaxmanJhulla, TehriGarwal, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand 249192
Mob: +91 – 7500277709
Ram Jhula Rd, Near Geeta Ashram, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand 249304
Phone: 089790 38113
234, Mahatma Gandhi Rd, Thakur Pukur, Kolkata, West Bengal 700063
Phone: 098303 39339
PO Belur Math, Dist Howrah 711202, West Bengal, India
Phone: (033) 2654-9999; Fax: (033) 2654-4640
Vritika lives in India where she immersed herself in authentic principles of Yoga and meditation through intense study, reference reading and oral teaching. Having learned and taught the benefits of meditation in modern life, she aims to bring peace and well being to people in innumerable ways demonstrated by Yogic wisdom. To read more of her writing visit her blog