Yoga Therapy or Yoga Instruction?|
Posted Jan 24, 2011 - 10:04 PM
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YOGA THERAPY OR YOGA INSTRUCTION?
by Luna Jordan, ERYT500, LMT
Often new students ask, “What is the difference between yoga therapy and a general yoga class?” Both offer the opportunity for improving health and well-being, yet there are some important differences.
Regular yoga classes offer general yoga instruction and often have a focus or goal. This goal could be preparing for a particular pose or achieving a desired effect, such as increasing energy or calming stress.
These choices almost always include movement and may also include conscious breathing, chanting, meditation and more. Although some adjustments can be made to the class plan and the yoga practices chosen, the teacher must make choices appropriate to the majority of the students in attendance. In this way, a more general yoga practice is offered to the students without specific choices given to any one student.
Yoga therapy, on the other hand, is very specific to the needs of each student. It is so specific that it can only take place one-on-one with the yoga therapist in a private class. In yoga therapy, the practice of yoga is tailored to the individual to foster optimal health and well-being in their physical, mental and emotional functioning.
Students come to private yoga therapy sessions for many reasons, usually relating to health and well-being. They may be experiencing physical symptoms such as low back pain, insomnia, or COPD. They may also want help with emotional symptoms such as depression, anger or sadness. Sometimes the yoga therapist provides support for someone such as a cancer patient who is undergoing chemotherapy to help them cope with the treatment and the stress of their diagnosis. Yoga students, who normally attend group classes, may also decide to come to a yoga therapist to work on a specific aspect of their yoga practice that is either not being offered in group classes or is not being taught in a way that the student can experience.
In a private yoga therapy session, the yoga therapist assesses many aspects of the student including physical condition, age, career, family history, personal interests and lifestyle looking for other contributors to the initial problem. For example, low back pain is often not simply a problem with the back, but may also stem from sitting for long periods of time at work, or from a lack of tone in the core muscles of the abdomen. All of these aspects of the student contain important information that help the yoga therapist develop a yoga program for the student that can be done at home. In follow-up appointments, the program is changed as the student progresses and their needs change.
To learn more about yoga therapy or yoga classes, please contact me.