If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.
Yoga Therapy is difficult to define, in part because of the breadth and depth of the tradition itself, and because, like Yoga, the discipline can be approached in so many different ways. Yoga Therapy aims to integrate traditional yogic concepts and techniques with Western medical and psychological knowledge to address specific human ailments especially chronic in nature. It tries to address the illness or discomfort in a holistic, multi-dimensional way by using non-invasive and complementary tools. It can be used to manage the illness as well as encouraging healing at all levels to deliver physical, emotional, mental and spiritual balance.
Yoga Therapy is the adaptation of yoga practices for people with health challenges that cannot be addressed in a group class
- a set of postures, breathing exercises, meditative and relaxation techniques will be prescribed to suit individual needs
- no prior knowledge is necessary as we meet at client’s point of experience
- progressive, non-invasive process that aims to reduce/manage symptoms, restore balance and increase vitality
- particularly helpful for chronic conditions that persist despite conventional medical treatment
- conditions supported by Yoga Therapy: chronic back, shoulder and hip pain, sciatica, general pain management, dealing with anxiety, depression and stress, addiction management, insomnia, chronic fatigue, asthma, multiple sclerosis, cancer treatment support (both from palliative care and support during chemotherapy and radiology), female health issues including fertility and menopause
Where (by appointment only): at the Light Center Belgravia, my yoga studio in South West London or via Skype/zoom. During COVID restrictions sessions are in online format only unless you have an exemption to be treated in person.
Who: suitable for all, no previous experience is necessary
Commitment: patience and regular home practice, at least six initial sessions are recommended to get the practice going.
What to expect during the session?
Key difference to a yoga class is that yoga therapy sessions are dealing with specific health conditions (which can be addressed on an individual or group basis). The therapist’s focus is then less on teaching the yogic postures and techniques, but more on creating a programme that will help the client manage symptoms that are causing concerns.
Prior to initial session: the client will be requested to fill in the client health information form that will cover current health status, reasons for seeking the therapy, medical history, lifestyle assessment (e.g. diet, level of exercise, interests etc)
Structure and expectations:
- An initial discussion will take place based on the health information form entries to identify the primary concerns and define the goal for the therapy sessions.
- The therapist will then make a physical assessment through performance of simple movements by the client to understand the level of physical discomfort and breathing patterns.
- A detailed personalised home programme will be crated and meeting pattern will be agreed (normally every two weeks). It will be expected for a client to perform the practice on their own so some degree of the commitment will be necessary to make progress. It is important that this degree of responsibility is understood at the outset.
- At subsequent meetings the programme will be refined based on the client’s feedback. As their condition improves, the programme can become more elaborate, however it will always be centred around agreed goals.
- The initial meeting lasts around 75-90 minutes and follow up sessions are normally 60-75 minutes in duration.
What are the tools used in Yoga Therapy sessions?
- Physical Postures (Asanas): The therapist will choose a set of postures that will be appropriate to address the client’s physical concerns.
- Breathing and Sound Exercises (Pranayama and Nada yoga): A range of breathing and sound techniques are used that are appropriate for the therapy that will serve different purpose from balancing, relaxing to energising effects
- Mindfulness and Meditation (Pratyahara, Dharana and Dhyana): a range of techniques is used particularly to reduce stress, anxiety and agitation and manage pain, as well as to get to the state of clarity in the mind.
- Restorative Yoga and Deep Relaxation (Yoga Nidra): this practice is often used to get the client much needed rest as well as reduce tension, enhance memory and learning capacity, train and sharpen the mind among other things.
How Yoga Therapy session differs from a private or group yoga session?
In a normal yoga class the student is focused on learning more about yogic techniques to deepen their level of understanding and proficiency. In a private setting the client will often drive the level of self-enquiry and what they would like to learn. During yoga therapy, we are trying to address specific health concerns and the tools are chosen to address them.
How Yoga Therapy session differs from a session with a personal trainer?
A Yoga Therapy session is not considered as only pure physical exercise. No previous experience is required and no special degree of flexibility or strength is expected. You start from the point of where you are now and take it forward.
What is the difference between Yoga Therapy and physical therapy?
Majority of physical therapists (with medical and anatomy based training) will look at the client’s imbalance at physical and structural levels only with varied degree of individualisation for similar issues. Yoga Therapy will look at the client from all dimensions holistically when in addition to physiology, psychological, emotional and energetic dimensions will be considered.
What is the difference between Yoga Therapy and psychotherapy?
During psychotherapy session the client and therapist will focus around past experiences and current stress levels and the impact that they had on client’s life. The sessions will then be often centred around understanding the feelings and attachments to those past experiences when trying to move beyond them. Yoga Therapy is focused on the present moment regardless of what took place in the past. The purpose is to start treating the impact and heal rather than analyse the past.
Can Yoga Therapy work in conjunction with other therapies?
There is no conflict as they may all try to achieve different purposes and it will be up to the client to decide which one works best.