Yoga Therapy Insights

What Is Yoga Therapy?

Similar to traditional yoga, yoga therapy is a series of asanas that can help ease pain and tension in the body and heal a large variety of medical ailments. Like with traditional yoga, practitioners use postures, breathing techniques and meditation to help patients with mental and medical issues that range from mild to severe.

Difference Between Yoga and Yoga Therapy

When you go to a yoga class, your intentions might include working out, stress relief, relaxing your muscles or challenging yourself. Traditional yoga classes are generally used as a way to train the body and to exercise it.

Yoga therapy, on the other hand, is a type of yoga that is practiced to address problems with your mental or physical health. In the same way that you might see a massage therapist to alleviate back pain, you might see a yoga therapist to address pain, stress and ailments.

Ultimately, the line between yoga therapy and traditional yoga is extremely thin. Yet the biggest difference is the way the asanas and poses are approached and the intention behind the practice.

Benefits of Yoga Therapy

Yoga therapy has been known to help ease a wide range of medical and emotional ailments. Everything from chronic pain to insomnia to anxiety to PTSD can be treated with yoga therapy. Many practitioners also encourage students to use yoga therapy as a method of preventative care and self-care. It has even been used to treat kids with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

Practitioners encourage patients to use positive thinking and visualization in addition to the prescribed poses and asanas. The idea behind yoga therapy is that the patient will heal himself or herself and that the healing lies dormant within each student. The therapist is simply there to guide the student.

Isn’t All Yoga Therapeutic?

Technically, you could consider all yoga practices to be therapeutic. Again, the biggest difference between traditional yoga practices and yoga therapy is the intention. Many yoga classes are geared toward building strength, enhancing flexibility and creating a mind/body balance; yoga therapy is practiced with the specific intention of helping a patient heal from a specific ailment. Many doctors are even prescribing yoga therapy as a form of treatment and pain management, especially for patients who have not responded to medical procedures. It’s also been used to aid in weight loss and patients suffering from addictions.

How to Become a Yoga Therapist

Think you’ve got what it takes to take your yoga training to the next level? To become a yoga therapist, you’ll need to have a yoga training certification first. You’ll also need additional training to become a yoga therapist. Since many yoga instructors aren’t explicitly trained on certain ailments and diseases, you’ll need to become familiar with these. You’ll also need to know when to step aside and refer the patient to a medical doctor.

Will you need to get a medical degree to become a yoga therapist? No. Yet the more you know about the body, its anatomy and the Ayurveda healing systems, the more equipped you’ll be to help your patients.