Yoga therapists are certified teachers who address specific health issues on all levels. Using numerous yoga postures to deal with various mental and physical problems, the yoga therapist applies the principles of yoga through an individualized practice to promote physical health and reduce stress, as well as create balance between body, mind and spirit.
What does a typical yoga therapy session include?
Generally, a yoga therapist designs a one-on-one program where he or she will meet with the client once a week for twelve consecutive weeks. An initial intake session is held to discuss specific problems or issues and then the rest of the time is spent working through all of the facets of that subject.
During sessions, the yoga therapist and the client will work on the physical level to relieve suffering. The energetic and emotional work done helps to break down and expose why a client may be tethered to a particular issue. Once this occurs, the therapist can then assist the client in ways to become more empowered.
Yoga therapists design programs that can be used off the mat once the student leaves the studio. These are life-long tools and practices that are essential to bring back quality of life to those who have been suffering. An example of this may be someone who has an eating disorder which has affected their ability to digest food. The therapy program may be designed to work not only through digestive health but also to lovingly heal the body and work though key triggers and samskara (emotional scarring and thought patterning) that holds the person back.
Yoga therapy has been shown to lessen the symptoms of those who suffer from a variety of conditions such as chronic pain, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, anxiety/depression, sleep issues, carpal tunnel syndrome, grief and high blood pressure, to name a few.
Each one of us has the ability to release emotional, energetic and physical barriers. A yoga therapist can show clients how to do this on their own but they first must recognize what is brewing on all levels: physically, energetically and emotionally. It is then possible to work on each level from a place of love and acceptance.
Another example could be working through a dependency on sleep aids or painkillers. Obviously there is a strong physical issue as the brain has been ‘rewired’ to depend on the chemicals but what about the brain fog, lack of concentration, irritability and depression? What triggers them to spike? The yoga therapist is able create tools in breath work (pranayama) and centering through meditational practices that will focus on alleviating those emotional conditions and giving power back to the individual.
With new skills and awareness, the individual now can begin to build upon these tools and find an individualized path back to healing.
Who benefits from yoga therapy?
Yoga therapists work with people from all walks of life including children, teens, adults, those with limited mobility and those with incredible strength and flexibility. Healing is personal. It doesn’t always ‘show’. A wise student once said "Yoga makes you face your truth." Sometimes the thyroid problem stems from closed communication. Sometimes the inability to conceive stems from a clutched pelvic floor that is holding in emotional tension and chronic stress and depriving the reproductive organs of oxygen rich blood.
A yoga therapist can assist in self-discovery in ways many people may have never before considered. To learn more about yoga therapy or begin a program, contact a registered and certified yoga therapist who is recognized by the International Association of Yoga Therapists in your area.
Nancy Mahon is a registered yoga therapist recognized by the IAYT (International Association of Yoga Therapists) and the owner of Sanctuary Yoga Studios in New City. For more information, call 548-1090 or visit SanctuaryYogaStudios.com.