What is Yoga Therapy?
Yoga is a mind and body practice that combines physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation. According to the International Association of Yoga Therapists, yoga therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga.
What Does a Yoga Therapist Do?
At a glance, yoga therapists prescribe different poses, breathing techniques, and exercises to their clients to help them with their overall health and well-being. Let us take a deeper look into what it is and what a yoga therapist actually does.
Yoga therapists are skilled workers who can provide experiences and knowledge in a variety of environments. Whether live case studies or one on one training, yoga therapists seek out therapeutic movements combined with their knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics and incorporate them into yoga treating the mind, body, and spirit as a whole.
What Is the Difference Between a Yoga Therapist and a Yoga Teacher?
You may ask yourself, what is the difference between a Yoga Therapist and a Yoga Teacher? The difference is simple: a yoga teacher focuses on technique while a yoga therapist focuses less on teaching yoga and more on applying said techniques to help their clients relieve their painful symptoms.
The Benefits of Yoga Therapy
Yoga therapy exercise may seem parallel to physical therapy, rehabilitative therapy, or
psychotherapy with prospective benefits that include a decline in stress, mental and
emotional well-being, enriched diet, and efficient body system functions.
While promoting self-care and encouraging overall well-being, the practice of yoga therapy also aids in improving mental and physical disorders and illnesses. The benefits of yoga therapy are seen through breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, meditation, and certain postures along with other specific ways of regulating the nervous system.
In a qualitative study conducted in 2011, yoga therapy shows positive effects on stress and can effectively reduce anxiety, along with being able to improve physical and mental health, as well as mindfulness. Here are some examples of other conditions that yoga therapy can help with:
- Depression and Anxiety
- Eating Disorders
- Back Pain
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Disease
- Musculoskeletal problems
Who Should Practice Yoga Therapy?
Yoga therapy is not solely for active, flexible, or physically strong people. In fact, it can be practiced and utilized by people of all ages, genders, physiques, and mobile capability.
Additionally, yoga therapy is not like your average yoga class. Typically, it is personalized precisely to the individual’s needs, providing a gentle way to work with the natural capacity of one’s body and mind. If you have a specific need that cannot be addressed in a general yoga session, you should consider signing up for yoga therapy.
Are You Thinking of Becoming a Yoga Therapist?
If you are thinking about turning your love for yoga into a career and wanting to become a yoga therapist, here are some tips:
1. On a Regular Basis, Practice Yoga
Ways to ensure that you’re engaging in regular yoga classes can be as easy as hopping on your computer a few times a week! Nowadays, yoga classes can be found easily through a quick search online. Yoga can now be taught both in person and online. There are also many online videos about yoga that you can look up and learn from.
2. Become a Certified Yoga Teacher
In order to become a yoga therapist, you need to first become a yoga teacher. Here are 4 steps that will summarize what you need to do in order to become a yoga teacher:
- Learn Yoga! The most important thing is improving your skills in the field. Take as many yoga classes as possible and practice the basics of the exercise, as well as learning how to interact with other students in the class
- Complete the training: You are required to complete at least 200 hours in training. This process can be done by earning a certification from the Yoga Alliance
- Become Registered: It is important to become licensed and registered as a yoga teacher. Visit Yoga Alliance’s official website for the most updated information regarding the process
- Become CPR certified: Another important thing that you should consider is becoming CPR certified. Most yoga teaching jobs at fitness and wellness centers require their employees to be CPR certified, and additionally, it’s a life saving certification that could benefit your clients if need be
3. Find the Right Yoga Therapy Program for You
The next step in your journey is finding an 800-hour yoga therapy program accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) – an organization with high standards and nearly 30 years of experience supporting the field. Some yoga programs focus on psychology and spirituality, while others are based on a specific lineage. Therefore, it is important to conduct extensive research and find the right program for you, based on the expertise that you want to have in the field. Once you complete the program, you can apply to become a certified yoga therapist as an accredited program graduate.
4. Decide where you want to work
After becoming a yoga therapist, you can either work for an established company in settings such as public hospitals, private clinics, non-profits or even open your own business. The possibilities are endless.
In this day and age, there is a growing desire for safe and effective ways to improve health and wellness. With yoga therapy, the holistic mind-body practice easily becomes popular among the public as it has been around for thousands of years. Its positive benefits have been proven and it is currently being used all over the world by people of all walks of life. In the United States, yoga therapy and the demand for yoga therapists are at an all-time high, making it a promising field and a great profession to consider.
If you love yoga and are looking to make an impact by helping others, then yoga therapy and becoming a yoga therapist might be for you!
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Sydney Morgan Holsipple
Sydney is currently a student in the Master of Acupuncture program at VUIM. Sydney is a Virginia native, who originally grew up in Virginia Beach and moved to the Northern region before starting her academic journey at VUIM. With her experience working as a pharmaceutical technician, Sydney always felt that there was a better way to help people, which led her to discover integrative medicine and its holistic approach to healing. Outside of her time at VUIM, Sydney loves being with her family and friends, enjoying outdoor activities, being close to nature, learning and practicing yoga, and reading her favorite books.