What Is Yoga Therapy?

what is yoga therapy

You have probably heard of yoga before, as it has become increasingly popular in recent years. But what about yoga therapy? How is yoga therapy different from yoga? 

Yoga has been around for over 1,000 years. The idea of using yoga in a therapeutic context has been credited to Tirumalai Krishnamacharya who died in 1981 at the age of 100. Yoga therapy is a relatively new method of healing born out of an ancient tradition.

We are going to share a clear therapeutic yoga definition, discuss what yoga therapy can be used for, and explain a typical yoga therapy session. Read on to learn about yoga therapy principles and how it is used today.

What is Yoga Therapy?

In short, yoga therapy is when yoga techniques such as movement, postures, breathwork, and meditation or visualization are used intentionally to promote physical or spiritual healing. Yoga therapy aims to address the physical, mental, and emotional needs of an individual through using a combination of yoga practices.

We can think of yoga therapy the same way we might think of other healing systems such as Chinese medicine. We have a system that helps us identify various imbalances in a person and then we offer techniques to bring those aspects into balance. A Yoga Therapist uses various techniques to help a person find balance and healing such as movement (asana), breath work (pranayama), chanting, philosophy or point of view, and meditation to name a few.

Yoga therapy can be an excellent complement to other forms of treatment, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, or mental health professionals.

What Can Yoga Therapy Treat?

Yoga therapy is useful for many different areas, ranging from physical pain to mental health conditions. It can be used as treatment method for a plethora of conditions, including (but not limited to):

Physical Conditions

  • Back pain
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Parkinson’s
  • HIV
  • Brain injuries
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Heart Disease
  • Obesity
  • Heart Disease
  • Obesity

Mental Health Conditions

  • Anxiety disorders
  • PTSD
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Addiction
  • Schizophrenia
  • ADHD
  • Eating Disorders
  • Postpartum depression

Yoga therapy can act as a useful adjunct to the western medical model or as a stand-alone therapy depending on the condition and/or the skill and experience of the Yoga Therapist.

The biggest difference between a yoga class and a yoga therapy session is that yoga therapy is tailored to suit each individual’s needs. 

What Makes a Yoga Therapist Different from a Yoga Teacher?

A yoga teacher is trained to guide students through classes and sequences to better their health and wellbeing in a general way. A yoga class will stretch a person’s muscles, ease everyday aches, and help boost their mood. 

Yoga therapy, on the other hand, is much more specialized. A Yoga Therapist has been trained to work with the system of yoga to treat specific conditions. The therapist will incorporate different yoga techniques to form a treatment unique to the individual depending on their condition and desires.

Learn more about the differences in our blog post about Yoga Therapists vs. Yoga Teachers

Now that you can answer the question, “What is yoga therapy?” you are probably curious about what a yoga therapy session looks like. Read on to learn what typically happens during a yoga therapy session.

What Happens at a Yoga Therapy Session?

Yoga therapy sessions are done in a private setting. Typically, a Yoga Therapist will do a thorough intake to get to know you and your concerns. Depending on the nature of your issue there may be a physical evaluation as well to determine the best course of action for treatment.

Once the Yoga Therapist has decided on a course of action, they will begin the process of teaching you practices to help with your condition. The relationship between a Yoga Therapist and their client is an important one. Usually, you will be given practices or exercises to work on  outside of the session and will have follow up appointments to make sure things are improving for you.

This could be practicing a certain pose at home to relieve stress and muscle tension, breathing exercises to calm the mind, or combination of other yoga practices to promote healing.

Become a Yoga Therapist With Breathing Deeply 

Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapists are trained to work with a wide variety of conditions using a model that can easily integrate other healing modalities. Please contact us if you would like to discuss how we can help you on your road to health and peace.

If you are interested in training to become a certified Yoga Therapist, Breathing Deeply offers several IAYT accredited programs for students. Learn more about our Yoga Therapy Foundations Program and our Advanced Yoga Therapy Program and apply today!

Info Session

Brandt talks about common questions applicants have about the Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy Program. Tune in to get the full program details.