The Therapeutic Yoga Teacher



It is well known that practicing yoga can enhance a person’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. When yoga is practiced within a therapeutic format, it can help prevent and aid recovery from physical and mental ailments. Yoga is beneficial for health in ways that modern science is just beginning to understand. The practice of yoga, in all of its various formats, lineages and offerings, is one of the fastest growing effective therapeutic modalities across the world.

Although applied with therapeutic intention for thousands of years, Yoga Therapy is only now beginning to emerge as a complementary discipline unto itself. Yoga teachers are increasingly seeking therapeutic knowledge to add to their teaching.

Doctors are starting to embrace and prescribe yoga to their patients, looking at structural issues such as postural imbalance and tissue tension, as well as prescribing yoga for anxiety-based issues. Some of the improvements documented are improved brain function, lower stress levels, increased flexibility, decreased blood pressure, improved lung capacity, reduced chronic pain, anxiety relief, stronger bone and healthy weight.

There is still a big gap in understanding the therapeutic guidance and specific application that can inform this exciting field, especially in how to best integrate with science and medicine. However, the International Association of Yoga Therapy (IAYT) is leading this endeavor across the World with its recent set of criteria and standards, a research arm and an official certification process for yoga teachers beginning this year.

As the effects of yoga techniques are researched, data gathered and analyzed, science and medicine are beginning to understand and accept the benefits of yoga therapy. In fact, the spectrum of yoga therapy is expected to continue to grow exponentially.

A Certified Yoga Therapist utilizes their specific style of yoga, overlaying this with a compendium of tools learned from a therapeutic concept aligned and approved by the IAYT. This leads to the development of a customized therapeutic treatment plan addressing the client’s needs. Each client is seen within a holistic framework, thus the approaches offered are very unique from person to person. There are also classroom yoga settings within this therapeutic approach, with specifically delineated steps to guide a group of students more generically by broader conditions—i.e. Yoga for Menopause, Back Care Yoga, Yoga for Depression.

To train in a therapeutic style of yoga, see Pima Community College’s listings on page 45. Contact Maggie Romance, of Pima Community College, Workforce & Continuing Education, at 520-206-6354 or MMRomance@pima.edu, or Patricia Hilliard, of Yoga Therapy College, at 714-443-7725. See ad, page 19.

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