There is a good article that has been coming up on my Facebook feed a lot lately on how Western health professional are increasingly aware of the benefits yoga therapy can bring to patients. In the recent years there has been more and more clinical research highlighting positive impact yoga can have in alleviating back pain, anxiety, insomnia and cardiovascular diseases. As yoga therapy is inherently holistic, it can also address other issues present, for instance by improving stress management and releasing tension.
So what do we mean by yoga therapy? Whilst your average group asana practise benefits those who are in relatively good health and have no specific pain points, yoga therapy is best done one-on-one or in a small group. It addresses the individual needs, as even the same condition can manifest itself very differently in different people: Hence there are no one fool proof sequences to “fix” specific problem areas for everybody at a given timeframe.
Another important point is that yoga therapy has to be constant. Therefore it is usually wise to intoduce only few asanas at the time to ensure “clean” practise also at home. In this sense a yoga therapy can sometimes even resemble a physiotherapy session. The pace of introducing new asanas/variations will be as slow as it needs to be. Breath work and/or meditation can be incorporated too. There are however a wide range of different type of yoga therapies, for instance some perinatal yoga classes fall under yoga therapy, as can do chair yoga etc. The underlying principle for all these variations, as with all yoga, is ahimsa (non-violence) as described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
There is no universally accepted certification for yoga therapists, although many countries they have formed associations (IAYT in The US, British Council for Yoga Therapy in The UK) in order to establish best practises and maintain standards. It is always wise to speak to your primary health care provider in case you have questions about the suitability of yoga therapy for you.
And the article I referred to? It’s here.