What is Yoga Therapy? a therapists response


The question is often asked and i have answered it many times, but i love this little article that Linda Kress wrote to explain...


Facilitating New Beginnings

by Linda Kress, BA,C-IAYT

People often ask: “What is the difference between yoga and yoga therapy?” That can be a hard question to answer. After all, most yoga is therapeutic, as long as it includes safe and effective postures, some breath awareness or instruction and some meditation, right? The International Association of Yoga Therapy (IAYT), the organization that sets the educational and certification standards for yoga therapy training programs/schools and for professional yoga therapists, describes yoga therapy as “the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga.

That may not clarify much. Furthermore, though anyone may advertise their class as yoga therapy or therapeutic yoga—certified yoga teacher or not—IAYT is currently the only organization that has a yoga therapy certification process, so be sure to look for the C-IAYT designation.

Following are some of the differences between what you might expect, and what you might not, in a therapeutic yoga class or private session.

Yoga Therapy Brings Healing and Adapts to Many Conditions

Yoga therapy starts with an intake process consisting of more detailed questions about what brings a person to yoga therapy. Most people are looking for healing from a condition such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, musculoskeletal injuries, back, neck or knee pain, sciatica or ongoing chronic conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or fibromyalgia, just to name a few. Clients may also be recovering from pregnancy, accidents, injuries or surgeries, or even treatment for cancer.

Yoga Therapy is Personalized

A yoga therapist will gather information regarding health history, goals and health habits and will consider common symptoms or side effects of the condition, as well as the latest treatment/ medication for the condition. This may require additional research so that things that might impact practice, such as dizziness or elevated blood pressure, are addressed.

Often, the yoga therapist meets or speaks with the client before the first session to help set up a safe and effective program designed to help heal what may be impacting the client’s health and happiness. An assessment is usually done to include postural, breath, movement, ayurvedic dosha and more to uncover imbalances.

Classes are kept small, ideally a maximum of 6 to 10 people (and sometimes one-on-one), to allow for a personalized approach—this is not a cookie-cutter yoga plan.

Yoga Therapy Approaches Healing from Many Aspects

Yoga therapists design practices that include all of the limbs of yoga and many other modalities that speak specifically to the condition of the group or individual being addressed. The imagery, affirmations, meditation and more are tailored and used as necessary, dependent on the group focus. There is usually an educational component about the condition or challenge and what a student might want to do (or avoid) to assist in finding relief. Additionally, there is always a back up plan to the back up plan, understanding that not everyone is the same and some may have multiple challenges that need to be considered.

Yoga Therapy Provides Support

In workshops, students may find emotional support, make some friends and build a community of like-minded individuals that are working with the same or similar challenges. Students will also have the support of the yoga therapist through handouts, feedback, homework, email, phone or even Skype, if necessary. Once the sessions are complete, individuals can always come back to “fine-tune” any modifications or practices.

Yoga Therapy Provides Feedback and Empowers

Assessments toward the end of the program allow clients and therapists to see what progress or transformation has been made. Clients are empowered by the end of the sessions or workshop to continue to bring healing to the condition through a continued practice designed exactly for them and through the awareness they develop.

What Yoga Therapy Is Not

Yoga Therapy is not designed to diagnose a condition. Yoga therapists are trained to work in partnership with physical therapists, physicians or other health care providers and to take into consideration any imbalances that may be found as a result of approaching the client holistically, but they do not diagnose and they do not treat. They do, however, work within the parameters of what is safe and effective for a specific condition, drawing together the many “limbs” of yoga practice to bring relief to the practitioner.

Yoga therapy can be a bridge, or transition, for individuals coming out of treatment or physical therapy into the world of yoga or fitness.



Chest Opening for Deepening Breath

Countering our daily forward movements with a supported back bend enhances deeper breath and deeper relaxation. As the muscles between the ribs relax and open the chest cavity increases allowing the lungs to expand and taking pressure off the heart. The ribs are attached at the spine and come all the way around the torso to the sternum. Opening the sternum, ribs and all the muscles between them allow the space for the breath to increase, releases tension in the upper spine and increases spinal flexibility. Using a firm yoga bolster helps to support us in this position so we can relax deeply and open completely.

The Power of Relaxing for Health

De-stressing is one of the most important parts of good health. Learning to relax deeply and consciously is at the cornerstone of de-stressing. Activating the parasympathetic nervous system is one of the results of yoga therapy. There is a commonly held belief that when we are not stressed, we are relaxed, but that isn't true at all! Like exercise, relaxation is a skill that takes practice. The better we learn to do it, the more effective it becomes. Certain props are designed to support us so that we can relax more deeply. A firm supportive yoga bolster is one of the very best!

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Yoga Therapy: The Newest Health Trend that Doctors are Paying Attention To

Wellness enthusiasts have long known the healing benefits of yoga. However, the popularity of this ancient practice is now growing among today’s mainstream, especially doctors. Today, there is a rise in doctor-prescribed yoga therapy, even among Western-trained doctors. So what is yoga therapy? Why is it a growing trend? Will yoga therapy help patients feel better? Here is some insight.

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 I recommend no matter what your sport or activity to warm up the muscles you’ll be using before you start your workout with dynamic movements. You can borrow some exercises from a polymeric type workout but lower the intensity to about 60-70%. This will allow the fluids in the muscles and surrounding tissues to increase in volume, lubricating tissues that should slide easily over one another and increasing flexibility in the muscles to avoid a strain.

Chronic Pain Caused by Scar Tissue

Many people suffer from chronic muscle pain, from athletes to office workers, and are not aware of the source of their pain. The truth is there are many reasons for muscle pain, from diet, to dehydration, to what seems more obvious- musculoskeletal injuries. Let's look at injuries as a source of mysterious muscle pain, which is often the case even when you’re not aware of how or when they happened.

The Year of the Fire Monkey

Happy belated New Year! The Fire Monkey entered February 8 2016. 
The key to mastering the Fire Monkey is keeping your wits about you. In a nutshell the Fire Monkeys energy is erratic, irrepressible, clever, unpredictable, resourceful, adventuresome, amoral, selfish and magical. That's quite a mix, and you need to know going in that anything can happen. Expect the most surprising things to happen. This will be a test of your ability to stay calm in the face of unexpected and relentless challenges. On the other side of such chaos is the power of magic and transformation.

Minerals and Toxic Metals

For those of us in SE Portland we have been up in arms about The Bulls Eye Glass Company toxic emissions of arsenic and cadmium. It has been going on for some 30 years. Its excellent that we have found out about it, but its also important to recognize that we have been barraged by heavy metals for much longer than this current alarm. Tackling environmental toxic metals and minerals in our bodies requires a mineral balancing lifestyle. All this cadmium and arsenic in our immediate environment now joins the lead, mercury and radioactive isotopes we are dealing with from cars and nuclear blow out across the ocean. Here is a little information so you can be active and informed about your health in this crisis

Daily self care for heavy metal toxicity

Keeping your body’s minerals balanced can be a complicated process AFTER exposure to toxic elements. It can require help from a practitioner familiar with mineral balancing and mineral analysis. However here are some basic steps we can all take to improve our resistance to toxic metals that we’re all exposed to on a daily basis.