Yoga Therapy (a.k.a. Yoga Cikitsa) is a holistic healing discipline that offers a broad range of tools and practices for supporting good health, healing and personal transformation. Yoga has long been practiced with therapeutic intentions as way of healing and awakening both the body and the mind.
Although associated mostly with postures, yoga has many tools to offer. The most profound tools include: conscious breath regulation, meditative practices, visualizations, use of vocal sounds, lifestyle modifications and dietary recommendations among many others. This makes the healing process very comprehensive and extremely specific to each individual.
Through breath, body movements and internal awareness one can heal physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. With a prescribed series of yoga postures, stretches and breathing techniques the body re-aligns. During such a session, there is a release of toxins, tension and stress while working through the limitations in the body, and ultimately, in the mind.
The goal of Yoga Therapy is to re-establish natural alignment and to stimulate the free flow of prana (life force) which supports the healing process. The therapist selects specific poses, gently adjusts with stretching, pressure and instructs the breathing to help release tension and pain. After even just one session, the participant feels lighter, clearer, more balanced and more flexible than before and definitely more relaxed. This is an excellent way to increase body-mind awareness, re-establish alignment, heal pains and injuries and is especially helpful in moving you past plateaus in personal development.
Yoga Therapy is only just now emerging as a discipline in itself. More health care practitioners are starting to include yogic techniques in their approach to healing — and more yoga teachers give a therapeutic intention to their teaching. People who have never tried yoga before are starting to consider including Yoga in their treatment plan. Yoga is beneficial for the health in ways that modern science is just beginning to understand. Even though it has been applied with therapeutic intention for thousand of years. Research is helping science and the medical establishment to understand and accept the benefits of Yoga Therapy.
The following is a list of definitions of Yoga Therapy by the International Association of Yoga Therapy:
* Yoga therapy is that facet of the ancient science of Yoga that focuses on health and wellness at all levels of the person: physical, psychological, and spiritual. Yoga therapy focuses on the path of Yoga as a healing journey that brings balance to the body and mind through an experiential understanding of the primary intention of Yoga: awakening of Spirit, our essential nature.
-Integrative Yoga Therapy (U.S.A.) Joseph LePage, M.A.
* Yoga therapy adapts the practice of Yoga to the needs of people with specific or persistent health problems not usually addressed in a group class.
-Samata Yoga Center (U.S.A.) Larry Payne, Ph.D.
* Yoga therapy is the adaptation of yoga practices for people with health challenges. Yoga therapists prescribe specific regimens of postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques to suit individual needs. Medical research shows that Yoga therapy is among the most effective complementary therapies for several common aliments. The challenges may be an illness, a temporary condition like pregnancy or childbirth, or a chronic condition associated with old age or infirmity.
-Yoga Biomedical Trust (England) Robin Monro, Ph.D.
* Yoga comprises a wide range of mind/body practices, from postural and breathing exercises to deep relaxation and meditation. Yoga therapy tailors these to the health needs of the individual. It helps to promote all-round positive health, as well as assisting particular medical conditions. The therapy is particularly appropriate for many chronic conditions that persist despite conventional medical treatment.
-Yoga Therapy and Training Center (Ireland) Marie Quail
(Yoga therapy is) the use of the techniques of Yoga to create, stimulate, and maintain an optimum state of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
-Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D.
* Yoga therapy consists of the application of yogic principles, methods, and techniques to specific human ailments. In its ideal application, Yoga therapy is preventive in nature, as is Yoga itself, but it is also restorative in many instances, palliative in others, and curative in many others.
-Art Brownstein, M.D.
*Yoga therapy is of modern coinage and represents a first effort to integrate traditional yogic concepts and techniques with Western medical and psychological knowledge. Whereas traditional Yoga is primarily concerned with personal transcendence on the part of a “normal” or healthy individual, Yoga therapy aims at the holistic treatment of various kinds of psychological or somatic dysfunctions ranging from back problems to emotional distress. Both approaches, however, share an understanding of the human being as an integrated body-mind system, which can function optimally only when there is a state of dynamic balance.
-Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D.
* Yoga therapy, derived from the Yoga tradition of Patanjali and the Ayurvedic system of health care refers to the adaptation and application of Yoga techniques and practices to help individuals facing health challenges at any level manage their condition, reduce symptoms, restore balance, increase vitality, and improve attitude.
-American Viniyoga Institute Gary Kraftsow