What is the difference between yoga and yoga therapy?

Yoga therapy, according to the International Association of Yoga Therapists, is “a professional application of the principles and practices of yoga to promote health and well-being within a therapeutic relationship that includes personalized assessment, goal setting, lifestyle management, and yoga practices custom designed for individuals or small groups.”

Yoga is a scientific system of self-investigation, self-transformation, and self-realization that originated in India. The teachings of yoga are rooted in the Vedas and grounded in classical texts and a rich oral tradition. This tradition recognizes that the human being’s essential nature is unchanging awareness that exists in relationship to and identification with the changing phenomena of the empirical world. The yoga tradition views humans as a multidimensional system that includes all aspects of body, breath and mind, intellect, emotions, and their mutual interactions. The practices of yoga traditionally include, but are not limited to, asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra, chanting, mudra, ritual, and a disciplined lifestyle.

Yoga therapy is the appropriate application of the teachings and practices of yoga in a therapeutic context. Yoga therapy aims to support a consistent yoga practice that, with consistent engagement, will increase self-awareness and help move the client/student in the direction of their desired goals.

international association of yoga therapists logo

Yoga therapy goals include:

  • Inspiring consistent movement toward improved health and well-being
  • Eliminating, reducing, and/or managing symptoms that cause suffering
  • Improving range of movement and overall function
  • Helps clients/students change their relationship to and their identification with their condition(s)
  • Helping to prevent the occurrence/recurrence of the underlying causes of illness
yoga therapy with brian

Becoming a certified yoga therapist and practicing yoga therapy requires specialized training. Skill development is necessary in many areas and includes the ability to deeply understand how to support a relationship between student and therapist that can affect positive change for the individual. Yoga therapy is informed by its sister science, Ayurveda.

As part of a living tradition, yoga therapy continues to evolve and adapt to the cultural context in which it is practiced. Today, in contemporary society, it is also informed by contemporary health sciences. Its efficacy is supported by an increasing body of research evidence, which contributes to the growing understanding and acceptance of its value as a therapeutic discipline.

Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.

~ Ovid

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