WHAT IS YOGA THERAPY?
Yoga Therapy is a practice for healing. Some people say that ‘all yoga is therapeutic’, and when all the aspects of yoga (physical/spiritual) are included in our daily practice, this is certainly true. However, not all yoga is taught with a no pain, no pain attitude, and this is a crucial ingredient in a therapeutic practice. Yoga Therapy offers a place to land for those in pain, and through a supported practice that meets the person 'where they are', pain can be reduced and mobility restored.
Yoga Therapy helps people come home to themselves. It is a practice that focuses on sustainable biomechanics, renegotiating and reconditioning movement patterns while simultaneously working with the nervous system and the whole person’s experience. It is a holistic practice, and delves into many concepts beyond just physical postures.
In Yoga therapy we do use yoga postures, and they are serving to support the body in unwinding, reconnecting, nourishing and integrating itself so that strength, stability and mobility can then improve and grow without pain, strain or injury. The postures are not taught for their shape or even their alignment, rather, are there to facilitate the body to move the way it is designed to move. If we are limited in function in our physical structure, or if we have pain (acute or chronic), then a lot of yoga postures can feel inaccessible to us, and we may feel yoga is no longer an activity we CAN do. Yoga Therapy allows us to find our way into movement again, to restore function and mobility while also building hope back into our minds and hearts. By focusing on the experience and transition between one movement to another as well as the pose itself, we can learn to feel our bodies and a whole world of awareness opens up inside. Awareness brings choices and allows us to decide how we want to think, move and feel.
Yoga Therapy strips away the requirement of 'looking the shape of a pose', and focuses instead on the movements happening in the joints relative to the spine and the person’s overall experience. Can you breathe while you hold the pose, are you locked up through your core and hyperextending to hold yourself in place, or are you breathing freely, soft through your knees, controlled yet easeful in your overall experience? If we move into a pose allowing for ease as a priority versus depth, stretch or intensity, the body will show us our limitation and we can learn to move with fluidity and in a sustainable, functional way. The amazing thing is that as we allow this ease to permeate more and more, the depth and intensity available to a person in a posture or movement grows, and without injury or strain.
Fostering ease, nourishing breath, and cultivating awareness of patterns are all foundations of Yoga Therapy. This allows you to grow in your ability to recognize that which holds you in tension, pain, stress or strain. Until something is within your realm of awareness, you are powerless to do anything about it. As you develop skills and tools through this practice, you will become better able to recognize these patterns, and begin to baby step towards different choices. The more we are able to see ourselves, the more choices become available, and freedom and space opens up in our bodies and lives.
There is a great and quiet space that exists in each and everyone of us, and it is running alive and well no matter what the chatter and storyline is in our egos and minds. Through the practice of Yoga we can find access to this quiet place within, and can come 'home' and settle into our structure and being in a whole new way.