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Three Reasons to Work with a Yoga Therapist

Be an Informed Yogi: All Yoga is Therapeutic. Not all Yoga is Yoga Therapy.

You’ve heard about the benefits of Yoga and are curious to try it out for yourself; but with all the choices out there, how do you know where to start?

Although Yoga as a practice has therapeutic benefits, noteworthy differences exist between a Yoga teacher and a Yoga therapist as well as between a Yoga class and a Yoga therapy session. Clarity about these differences is helpful to form educated decisions about which service is best suited to your needs.

Yoga as a complete wellness system provides many tools for self-development and can guide the practitioner in various methods of self-study and spiritual progress. However, in the Western world, most individuals have only been exposed to Yoga as a system of physical exercise within a supportive and like-minded community.

What is the Difference Between a Yoga Teacher and a Yoga Therapist?

Defining Roles:

Yoga Teacher: There are a variety of styles and methods of teaching Yoga depending on how one is trained, and classes usually have a strong physical focus. Good Yoga teachers choose appropriate practices for student interest and ability, guiding them through Yoga practices in a correct, informative, and appropriate way. Yoga teachers are trained to lead students through classes and sequences to better their well-being in a general way. A Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga teacher must complete a minimum of 200 hours of training.

Yoga Therapist: Instead of focusing on basic instruction of Yoga practices, Yoga therapists focus on the client’s needs in relation to the practices and are trained to work with specific conditions such as trauma, depression, and autoimmune diseases. Practices include the physical techniques as well as more subtle techniques with breathing, meditation, and philosophy— centering on the therapeutic application of these techniques.

A Yoga therapist investigates why a client is seeking Yoga services and collaboratively determines the best way to support client goals using both a Western medical and a Yoga therapy approach. Clients are assessed through a variety of methods to determine the most appropriate approach for the client. When creating a plan to implement with the client, ways to manage symptoms, improve function, and assist in mental/emotional outlook in relation to health conditions and goals are considered. Yoga therapists then teach and support the client in the application of the practices best suited to their needs. The International Association of Yoga Therapists require a minimum of 800 hours of training to earn certification as a Yoga therapists.

What is Different Between a Yoga Class and a Yoga Therapy Session?

Clarifying Content:

Yoga Class: Yoga classes can be held for both individuals and groups as well as for groups with a specific focus. Some examples are Vinyasa, Restorative, Yin, or Prenatal classes. General Yoga classes are centered around a purpose such as moving with the breath or relaxing the body. When a Yoga teacher offers a class to individuals with a similar condition, such as cancer, the teacher’s goal is to guide the students how to safely practice Yoga while respecting their health condition.

Yoga Therapy Session: In a Yoga therapy session, individuals or groups must complete an intake assessment. The Yoga therapist then identifies appropriate methods to assist the individuals/groups in managing the symptoms identified as troubling i.e.—insomnia or pain. The Yoga therapist also strives to empower the individuals to be actively responsible for their self-care and find freedom from relying on others for their personal well-being. Each session is documented; and evaluations are conducted to determine the effectiveness of the plan, making modifications as necessary.


“It is extremely important for the Yoga student and the Yoga therapy client to be clear about their intentions when seeking out Yoga professionals. It is imperative for Yoga professionals to be clear about the intention and orientation of their work, honest about their level of training and understanding, and realistic about their skill sets. Although both Yoga teaching and Yoga therapy are valid and valuable professions, they are quite different.” –International Journal of Yoga Therapy

Why Choose Yoga Therapy?

The answer depends on your goals. Both Yoga and Yoga therapy offer numerous benefits. Yoga has been around for over 1,000 years while Yoga therapy is an emerging healthcare profession in the integrative health care field. To maximize the impact Yoga practices can have in your life, read on to discover why working with a Yoga therapist might be right for you!

Three Reasons to Work with a Yoga Therapist:

1. It’s All About You What could be better? An entire session based around your personal situation, history, challenges, needs and goals. A Yoga therapist can collaborate with other wellness professionals and schedules your sessions to provide ample time to understand the deeper connections and bigger picture around your perceived obstacles and envisioned goals. During your time together, you will gain insight into your relationship to suffering and disease through physical, mental, and emotional practices to best serve and support you in building resilience and developing self-regulation.

2. Break the Cycle of Dependence

When working with a Yoga therapist, you are guaranteed a holistic and integrative approach to wellness. Need support in recovery? Managing pain? Sleeping better? Dealing with anxiety? Working with depression? Increasing mobility and strength? A Yoga therapist will work with all the areas of your well-being and educate you to take an empowered role in your wellness and confidently manage your life. A Yoga therapist strives to put you in charge of your experiences and is overjoyed to see your successes.

3. Cultivate Committed Relationships

Healing happens in healthy relationships. A Yoga therapist walks with you on your journey, holding space for your pain, experiences, questions, and growth. By setting healthy boundaries and earning trust, you learn to develop healthy relationships and begin to heal the most important relationship of all: your relationship to yourself.

Have you decided to try Yoga therapy? When interviewing your specialist, remember to only trust a Certified Yoga Therapist (Credentials of C-IAYT). Use the link below to check if your specialist is certified through the International Association of Yoga Therapist. This is the only organization with the authority to credential Yoga Therapists!

Find a Certified Yoga Therapist :

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