It can start with something that seems as simple as a pop. Your knee pops but it ends up being the sound of a slight tear in your meniscus and the beginning of months of agonizing pain. After going to see several doctors and failed attempts to rid the pain and reduce the never-ending swelling, you begin to seek other options. Your friends tell you to try yoga so you do and find that it helps with strengthening your knee and leg but it’s not enough, so you consider yoga therapy.
If you’ve participated in yoga before, you may have experienced one of the many benefits of practicing yoga. Yoga helps with a myriad of things like strength, flexibility, improving your posture, increasing blood flow and decreasing your blood pressure. While these benefits are all great, Yoga can be much more powerful, for certain individuals, when taught by a yoga therapist.
What is yoga therapy?
According to the International Association of Yoga Therapists, it is “the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga. The goals of yoga therapy include eliminating, reducing, or managing symptoms that cause suffering; improving function; helping to prevent the occurrence or re-occurrence of underlying causes of illness; and moving toward improved health and well-being.”
Because this type of yoga targets a specific population, it is often done 1-on-1 or in small groups of less than 10 people. No matter what the size of the group, the participants all have to have the same needs. For instance, if we refer back to our knee popping example, yoga therapy could be taught to that one person to help manage their excruciating knee pain or a group of people who suffer from chronic knee pain.
Yoga instructor vs. yoga therapist
Yoga Therapy has to be provided by a yoga therapist as opposed to a yoga instructor. When you go to your typical yoga class, it is most likely taught by a yoga teacher. This person has had comprehensive and specialized training in the ancient practice of yoga. They are able to create and teach classes for various levels utilizing different types of yoga practice. A yoga therapist is able to do this as well but their classes are aimed at addressing a specific illness, injury or condition. Therefore, there may be a class for people who suffer from chronic back pain or post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, yoga therapists obtain specific credentials when they have completed their yoga therapy training. You can often tell if someone is a yoga therapist if they have CYT or C-IAYT after their name.
What does yoga therapy help with?
- Chronic pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Bone density
- Domestic violence
- Sexual assault
- And much more!
While there are many issues that yoga therapy helps with, there are several populations that often participate in and benefit greatly from yoga therapy such as adaptive athletes, seniors, and veterans. If you suffer from any of the previously mentioned issues or are an adaptive athlete, senior, or veteran, yoga therapy can improve your quality of life immensely!