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 home yoga studio in South London or via skype/zoom (for established clients). During COVID-19 majority of sessions are in online format only.
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 at a minimum). 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.
- Physical Postures (called Asanas in yogic terms): 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
- Meditation and Mindfulness: a range of techniques is used particularly to reduce stress, anxiety and agitation and manage pain, as well as to get to the sense of clarity of 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 physicality, physiological, psychological and emotional 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.
“I have had the pleasure of studying with Vera for over 10 years, as both my teacher and my friend. Her sessions are the highlight of the week and her yoga practices, and wider experience in healing, pre and post natal care and other therapies have provided a holistic approach to supporting me in working through two pregnancies, illness, and the general stresses and pressures of living in the 21st century.”Alison S
“Immediately after 2 sessions I felt the benefit of Vera’s guidance and the exercises sheet provided during the sessions. The breathing techniques are very helpful and allowed me to focus on the recovery at-hand. Vera focuses in delivering a very tailored and achievable set of exercises based on my capability at the time. I felt much supported throughout.”Catarina
“I found the therapy sessions to be holistic with my health as well as physical and emotional issues addressed in a knowledgeable, caring and understanding way. Your drawings were very clear and helped me to remember the poses. I am very grateful for the sessions we have had and I will continue to come to you for further sessions from time to time.”Renoo
“The sessions have been of great help to me as I have always walked away from each one feeling reinvigorated both physically and spiritually, both being as important as one another other. Vera has helped me finding ways of dealing with my condition as well as turning it into a positive to assist me with finding the way forward. I feel very privileged to be mentored by Vera as I greatly admire her extensive knowledge and wisdom.”Catherine