As a growing number of Americans seek out alternative treatments to address their health concerns, yoga’s popularity has accordingly grown. More and more, medical professionals are recommending yoga to their patients, but quite often these recommendations lack specificity. Yoga Therapy has become a bit of a catchphrase lately, though there are some misconceptions about what it is and how it works.
What is Yoga Therapy?
Yoga Therapy is a bio-psycho-social-spiritual approach to health and wellness that adapts yogic practices to the needs of the individual. Therapeutic yoga practices stretch and strengthen the musculoskeletal system, change neurological processing, and regulate the nervous system. Specific Yoga Therapy practices may include :
- Asanas (Physical Postures)
- Pranayama (Breath Regulation Practices)
- Dhyana (Meditation)
- Mantra (Repetitive sound)
- Mudra (Seal; Hand Gesture)
- Other Mindfulness Practices
The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT), founded in 1989, has developed thorough competency-based educational standards and a rigorous accreditation process for Yoga Therapy training programs. Certification in Yoga Therapy requires 1,000 hours of training.
How Does Yoga Therapy Work?
Yoga Therapy considers the whole person as a complex system of five interconnected sheaths, or koshas, that veil our true self. From the grossest to the subtlest, the koshas include:
- Annamaya Kosha – Physical Body
- Pranamaya Kosha – Energetic Body
- Manomaya Kosha – Lower Mind/Thought Processes
- Vijnanamaya Kosha – Higher Mind/Discernment
- Anandamaya Kosha – Spiritual Bliss Body
The process begins with an assessment of the individual through the lens of the koshas, from which the Yoga Therapist designs a treatment plan to address specific concerns tailored to each client’s goals. The treatment plan addresses dis-ease through one or more koshas. The koshas are interconnected and dependent on one another; thus, yogic tools used in one kosha affects the other koshas. Yoga Therapy is intended to empower the individual to take an active role in their health and wellness to ease suffering and promote self-healing.
How Can Yoga Therapy Help You?
Yoga therapy can address a variety of conditions including:
- Chronic pain
- Neurological disorders
- Depression and anxiety
- Grief (death and non-death related)
- Trauma and PTSD
- Addiction recovery
- Recovery from physical injury