Yoga therapy utilizes a wide variety of yogic practices, based on the individual’s needs or goals, to promote their well-being. Likewise, in a therapeutic yoga class, the class flow derives from the health concerns/needs of the individual students who are attending that specific class, not from a pre-planned agenda.
The amount of training required to become a Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) is much more extensive than to be a yoga teacher. The initial training to become registered a yoga teacher is 200 hours (RYT©200). With an additional 300 hours of training, the RYT©500 level of teacher registration is attained. To obtain the C-IAYT certification, 1,000 hours of training from an accredited yoga therapy program must be completed.
People often perceive of yoga simply a form of exercise that requires stretching and moving into odd positions. But there are actually eight different aspects or branches in yoga, only one of which involves yoga poses.
Yoga therapy integrates all of these various aspects of yoga, focusing on the larger goal of health. From this broader perspective, health is viewed as being in a state of feeling whole and in balance. Health problems are believed to be more likely to occur when we feel a sense of separation within or from ourselves.
Take a moment to reflect on this. How often do you feel like your body is rushing off in one direction, your mind is racing off in totally different direction and you can barely catch your breath? This is common experience for most of us with our busy, stressful lifestyle. We may feel disconnected, anxious, tense, stressed, often not sleeping well.
Yoga therapy invites us to re-connect with our mind, body and breathe, to stop and be aware. In doing this, we can tap into the innate ability of the body/mind to move towards improved wholeness/health.
A yoga therapist does not provide talk therapy. They guide the individual to awareness at the physiological level, identifying which yogic practices – breath work, movements, mudras, meditation – feel most helpful to address their health concerns. Equally important, in working together, they also learn which practices may not be appropriate for them.
The first yoga therapy session concentrates on assessment – of breathing patterns; of physical alignment/misalignments; of movement restrictions – as well as reviewing basic health history and current life or stress issues. This initial session also includes some therapeutic yoga practices. A minimum of two additional sessions are then scheduled in which the yoga therapist and individual work together, evolving a therapeutic yoga program to move towards their goals.