"Yoga therapy is a dynamic therapy encompassing mind, body and breath to alleviate, empower and energize our whole being" (Sarah Reid).
Yoga Therapy (Yoga Chikitsa) integrates traditional yogic concepts and techniques with a Western evidence-based approach and provides the student with an in-depth analysis of their presenting problem and an appropriate personalized daily practice. The sessions address the person as a multi-dimensional energetic being and the personal practice is prescribed according to the physical, emotional and physiological needs as well as the circumstances of the individual. The health or sickness of any dimension affects the other dimensions and vice versa.
A yoga therapy practice is progressive (Vinyasa Krama), and changes as the client’s requirements change or develop. A personal practice is exclusively tailored to the individual as there is no pre-ordained “recipe” for a person’s condition. This style of yoga is referred to as Viniyoga (Desickachar 2005).
A daily therapy practice does not always involve the prescription of physical postures (asanas) and a student may be given advice on mindfulness/meditation, breath work (pranayama), lifestyle advice or relaxation. Yoga Therapy is not the same as a one on one yoga session, as a therapy session delves much deeper into the root cause of suffering (Dukham) and seeks to assist healing from a holistic perspective. Yoga Therapy is not supposed to take away from medical intervention and works as a complementary therapy rather than an alternative.
Yoga therapists draw on knowledge from the ancient Vedic teachings and philosophies of the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali (circa 400CE) such as the causes of suffering (the Kleshas), therapy also draws from the principles of Ayurvedic Medicine such as identifying your body type (Dosha), the qualities of your lifestyle pertaining to the Gunas (rajas, tamas and sattvic) and the five elements (fire, air, space, earth and water).
Yoga Therapists utilise the Pancha Maya Model, first depicted in the Taittiriya Upanishad, to delve into the five sheaths/layers of the human energetic system (the physical body, the breath body, the emotional body, the wisdom layer and the bliss layer). This model serves as the basis for the therapeutic application of the postures and breathing exercises. By analysing the interaction of all these bodily systems and their inherent qualities we can establish any “conditioning or patterning” (samskaras) which may be affecting us in each layer.
There is a growing body of evidence within the medical field which embraces therapeutic yoga as a clinically effective intervention for many conditions such as chronic back pain management (Chang et al 2016), diabetes (Innes & Selfe 2016) osteoporosis (Motorwala et al 2016), stress reduction (Sharma 2014), neurological disorders (Mishra et al 2012) , management of oncology patients (lymphatic drainage, pain management, acceptance, grieving) (Kiecolt Glaser 2014).
A consultation will consist of a full subjective and objective assessment to establish the problem (Hetu) and cause (Heyam). Your personal journey will be listened to without judgement and all your needs will be incorporated into your practice. You will be provided with a personalised daily yoga practice which will be set to fit in with your lifestyle and for an agreed length of time. As I mentioned earlier anyone can do yoga, and by doing the practice you will see a change. So why not book in or come to a class to find out more.
I am Sarah Reid, Physio. Yoga Therapist, Yoga & Pilates Teacher and mother to two beautiful girls.