A Yoga Therapist empowers and supports individuals to manage their own health using the principles of Yoga and applying a range of Yoga practices developed within a professional therapeutic relationship. Whilst Yoga Therapy is based on the traditions of Yoga it is also an evidence-based practice, which also draws on the skills and knowledge of modern medicine and rehabilitation.
Pain, ill-health and chronic injury are often compounded by multiple contributing factors. For this reason Yoga Therapy engages in a holistic approach to assisting an individual’s health, and will usually encompass the developing wellbeing of the whole person rather than focusing on a single condition.
The tools that a Yoga Therapist may use include asana (postures), pranayama (breath awareness and techniques), relaxation, meditation, dietary advice, lifestyle counselling and self-development guidance.
Yoga Therapy is most commonly provided by way of an individual consultation, and may progress to small therapeutic groups for those experiencing similar health issues. You do not need to have prior Yoga experience to benefit from Yoga Therapy.
A Yoga Therapist is an experienced Yoga Teacher with additional formal training and qualifications, specialised skills and knowledge in the application of Yoga within a therapeutic setting. A Yoga Therapist draws from the principles of Yoga and the full range of Yoga practices, as well as bio-medical knowledge and assessment skills, to develop a self-empowering therapeutic programme appropriate to their client’s needs. As Vicki is also a Specialist Physiotherapist, she is well-placed to blend the most recent scientific evidence with the multi-faceted practices of Yoga.
Generally speaking, a Yoga class (eg. general or beginner), taught by a Yoga Teacher, will involve a (sometimes small, sometimes large) group of participants, all doing a similar progression of yoga poses / practices. There may be some modifications or alternatives offered for participants with certain problems (eg. knee, lower back etc), however given the nature of a class, it cannot be an individually-tailored programme. (This could be compared to a Fitness Pilates class and a private Pilates session.) In contrast, a Yoga Therapy session is a one-on-one consultation with a Yoga Therapist, with the purpose of managing specific needs (eg. pain, injury or medical conditions). This could then progress into a small Yoga Therapy group session (eg. 4-6 clients), where each client is monitored and progressed along their own individual programme. Many different alternatives, including the use of various props, will be offered in Yoga Therapy sessions, and individual feedback is sought, and individual modification is possible. In addition, although this does vary among Yoga Teachers, you are more likely to be taught a variety of breathing and meditation techniques in a Yoga Therapy setting than in many Yoga classes.
So, when comparing Yoga and Yoga Therapy, one is not better than the other! The question is simply which is more appropriate for you at the time. Our aim is to help you progress to a level, and understand the idiosyncrasies of your body sufficiently, so that you would be safe attending a general or beginners’ Yoga class, or practise at home (if that is your goal).
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