Yogaflow LLC

What is Yoga Therapy?

According to the IAYT (International Association for Yoga Therapy) there has been a lot of talk around asking, what exactly is yoga therapy?


Many students too don’t understand the difference between a Yoga Teacher and a Yoga Therapist. What qualifies a Yoga Teacher to practice Yoga Therapy?


Yoga is a healing practice in itself. It is intended to integrate each individual, body, mind and spirit. True healing can only come from within. When we practice yoga we learn about focus, concentration, self-control and how to be still, relaxed and calm in our body mind and our life. The asanas or postures and breathing exercises help to strengthen, stretch and cleanse the body bringing one into homeostasis. Yoga in itself should be therapeutic and healing. Yoga is about moving into stillness.


Yoga Therapy is taking the practice one step further. It is a practice that works with specific conditions and needs. If someone is suffering from fibromyalgia or a herniated disk, for example, their Doctor might tell them to try yoga. These patients find themselves in group yoga classes whether at their local gym or yoga studio and find it difficult if not impossible to do. Actually these types of classes can even worsen an already aggravated condition.


Yoga Therapy puts the Therapy into yoga. It is a personal practice that is designed specifically for each individual. Many factors are taken into consideration. Each student fills out questionnaires and forms that allow the Yoga Therapist to better understand the whole person, body, mind, & spirit, past and present. It allows the Therapist to design a program specifically for those individuals’ needs. It allows each individual to move at their own pace within their own space. If practicing yoga causes pain, you’re not doing yoga.


The difference between a Yoga Teacher and a Yoga Therapist is training. A Yoga Therapist undergoes training in addition to their basic 200 hour teacher’s certification. A Yoga Therapy Program consists of 1000 hours and some offer more. There are many different programs out there today that teach yoga teachers therapeutic yoga. When looking for a Yoga Therapist you should always inquire to what kind of training they have had in Yoga Therapy. Ask them who they studied with, you can always research to see if that Teacher has had the additional training required to practice Therapeutic Yoga.


In conclusion, Yoga Therapy can help to ease you into your body and mind working through whatever condition you may be suffering from whether it’s back problems, depression, stress and related disorders, fibromyalgia, cancer, addictions and menopause to name a few.


Gail Maheshwari, PYT, (Professional Yoga Therapist) is certified at the 1000 hour level with Joseph LaPage of Integrative Yoga Therapy.