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. 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 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.
 

 

Why Yoga therapy?

Potential benefits from yoga therapy:
  • Strengthen different systems in the body: heart and cardiovascular system, lungs, muscles and nervous system.
  • Improve functions of the body as a whole, foster psychological well-being and improve oxygen delivery to tissues.
  • Improve diet
  • Reduce stress, from migraine headaches and irritable bowel syndrome to potentially life-threatening conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, and depression.
A 2011 qualitative study from Inkanyiso: Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences examined the effects of yoga therapy on anxiety. The findings not only indicated that yoga therapy effectively reduced subjects' anxiety, but improvement across several dimensions of physical and mental health including physicality, relaxation, and mindfulness.
 

What to expect in a Yoga therapy session?

When a person decides to initiate yoga therapy, the therapist will first conduct an initial assessment. This assessment is designed to do the following:

  • Identify health problems
  • Assess lifestyle and physical capability
  • Discuss reasons for seeking therapy
  • 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. From this point, therapy sessions will most likely include the following components:
  • Breathing Exercises (Prayanama): The therapist will guide the person in therapy through a series of breathing exercises ranging from energizing breaths to balancing breaths.
  • Physical Postures (Asana): The therapist will teach the person in treatment appropriate yoga poses that address problem areas.
  • Meditation: Relaxation and mindfulness are the focus of meditation when it is combined with yoga poses.
  • Guided Imagery: The yoga therapist attempts to calm the body and mind by providing a guided visualization intended to bring inner peace.
  • Homework: An important element for any yoga practice is to find a way to incorporate it into daily life. Yoga therapists provide instructions on how to use what has been learned in treatment at home.