What is Yoga Therapy?

Yoga therapy is a discipline within yoga teaching that focuses on developing yoga practices for individuals and small groups for a specific healing purpose. While many yoga practices are inherently healing because they promote movement and mindfulness, yoga therapy goes further. It is an emerging field that is helping people of all ages and challenges use yoga for self-regulation and health improvement. Yoga therapy specifically addresses specific needs rather than teaching techniques or traditions. A great definition comes from the Viniyoga Institute:

"Yoga Therapy, derived from the yoga tradition of Patañjali and the Ayurvedic system of health, refers to the adaptation and application of yoga techniques and practices to help individuals facing health challenges at any level manage their condition.

The general long-term goals of Yoga Therapy include:

  • reducing the symptoms of suffering that can be reduced

  • managing the symptoms that cannot be reduced

  • rooting out causes wherever possible

  • improving life function

  • shifting attitude and perspective in relationship to life’s challenges”

Another great definition is from TKV Desikachar:

Yoga therapy is a self-empowering process, where the care-seeker, with the help of the Yoga therapist, implements a personalized and evolving Yoga practice, that not only addresses the illness in a multi-dimensional manner, but also aims to alleviate his/her suffering in a progressive, non-invasive and complementary manner.  Depending upon the nature of the illness, Yoga therapy can not only be preventative or curative, but also serve a means to manage the illness, or facilitate healing in the person at all levels.