OK, maybe I should start with What is Yoga Therapy?
Below you will find the official definition of Yoga Therapy but here is my spin...
Yoga Therapy is an opportunity to work with and learn from a highly trained specialist, addressing your specific goals and needs. YT uses all of the components, or limbs of yoga to add tools to your toolbox so you are empowered to work towards healing and accepting yourself where you are now. Lifestyle, movement, breath work and meditation are some of the things available to explore. My specialty, Yoga Therapy for Stress and Anxiety Transformation, is of value today more than ever!
International Association of Yoga Therapists definition:
Yoga therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of Yoga.
Got it, so WHY? Why see a yoga therapist instead of a free online class or a group class at the gym or studio? Actually, there are many reasons but before I break that down, 2 quick things… I am in no way suggesting yoga therapy or any yoga is a substitute for medical care or medication. Explaining the benefits of yoga therapy does not mean I have anything negative to say about a regular practice in a studio or gym. Group classes are great, and I love them myself. If you are a beginner, be careful about online or YouTube classes for safety reasons.
Like I said, group classes are awesome! The energy, community and space all contribute to the experience. Although the class may have a theme, it is unlikely, however, to be tailor made for you. Yoga therapy, being one on one is always just for you…on that day, in that moment. I may have a plan for the session based on what we have been working on but if you come in after a hard day and need to focus on something else, done!
Here is a specific case that will examine how yoga therapy works, and can support the medical community. A 37-year-old woman goes to see her doctor because she is having trouble sleeping and is feeling very stressed. Her vitals are checked, blood pressure is a little high, and she has gained a little weight. The doctor is only slotted to spend 5-10 minutes with her by no fault of her own (that is just how that works) so does not get much more information than the presenting symptoms. The doctor then prescribes a sleeping aid, blood pressure medication, and recommends an anxiety medication and exercise. Our patient then finds herself back in her car 15 minutes later with 3 prescriptions, a referral for a psychiatrist, and literally no clue what just happened. Fortunately, later that day she comes across my Facebook page and checks out my website! She schedules her 15-minute free phone consultation and we chat…she decides to book a session and I send her some paperwork for intake and waivers. Here is an idea of the some of the information I am looking for from her to support her in accepting where she is and moving towards better health and well being…
How does she spend her day? How does she feel about her nutrition? Is she hydrated? Does she exercise and why or why not? What are some ways she tries to relieve stress? Does she experience chronic pain? What is the make up of her family; meaning partner, kids, pets, lives alone?
These are just a few of the things I want to know so I can figure out a plan for structuring our sessions and involve her in the process. Our first session may look a little like this: Spend some time going over the forms and asking any additional questions either of us may have, doing a centering and grounding exercise, setting an intention for the session, learning a breathing technique and the science behind why it is effective, practice walking meditation to both calm the mind and get in some steps, learn a technique to support her sleep, set a goal for at home to continue these practices, and close with a guided meditation. Throughout the session, I check in to see how she is feeling and if she has questions about what we are doing.
These practices can support her process in working towards wellness, while encouraging her to play a role in her health. Yoga therapy is not a pill. Your yoga therapist is not going to “fix” you. You are going to make decisions and take actions to move towards improved health and quality of life with support, guidance and expertise by your side. That friends, is why yoga therapy!
“Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate. Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life.”
`Dr. Natalie Nevins, DO