What are the differences?
Although yoga as a practice can be therapeutic, there are significant differences between a yoga class and a yoga therapy session. Yoga Therapy combines the ancient science of yoga with contemporary neuroscience and psychology, translating scientific research into evidence-based practice, whilst offering the support of psychotherapeutic holding. Phew!
So, what does that mean? What happens in a Yoga Therapy session?
Yoga Therapists take an integrative and holistic approach to health. Therapy is a collaborative process and sessions are client-centred, allowing you to safely explore your individual needs. Sessions may include integration of tools such as somatic movement and yoga, mindfulness, visualisation, and breathing practices.
Sessions are a process of discovery and awareness of self, connection of mind-body, and exploration of how movement, breathing, and thoughts change our physiology, emotional state and affect our nervous system regulation.
Individual lifestyle is taken into account, and although yoga therapy is not talking therapy, an element of story sharing, medical history assessment, and previous relevant experience can be beneficial for client and therapist to build a practice based upon individual needs.
Yoga Therapy aims to address health conditions and wellbeing concerns; however, therapy works best if you aim to commit to practice once outside therapy sessions. Even a few minutes a day can have a transformative effect. Yoga Therapists are there to guide and support you on this journey.
How do Yoga Therapists gain certification?
I trained with The Minded Institute, run by Heather Mason, an International Leader in Yoga Therapy and mind-body training.
Yoga Therapists train intensively and rigorously, gaining 580-hour certification, following strict ethical guidelines. Yoga Therapists only qualify once clinical assessments and case study requirements are met, in addition to passing formal written examinations. Certification requires high standards of academic attainment and practical application of therapeutic practices, tools and techniques. According to an NHS Consultant of Palliative Care, whom I trained alongside, Yoga Therapists learn as much neuroscience as Junior Doctors!
How does Yoga Therapy complement healthcare services?
Yoga Therapy is able to play a supportive role in prevention, management and treatment of various mental and physical long-term conditions. It is not a magic cure. Yet, research-based evidence demonstrates that it can have tremendous benefits to health and wellbeing, especially for chronic health conditions, which are (as we well know by now!) often under-researched and overlooked.
Yoga Therapy bridges the gap between practice and treatment, with a focus on empowering individuals towards improved health via use of specific practices to help alleviate and improve mental and physical health conditions.
Although in it’s infancy in the UK, the evidence and support of Yoga Therapy in North America is so great that it is covered by Public Health Insurance and has been used by US Cardiologists to form yoga based interventions that can reverse heart disease.
In the UK the NHS is now becoming increasingly aware of the potential benefits of yoga therapy for their staff and patients alike, and they recommend the British Council of Yoga Therapists in the Complementary and Alternative therapies element of their service.
Yoga Therapists work in collaboration with Doctors, Physiotherapists, Psychotherapists and other healthcare professionals.
If you continue to experience any of the following conditions yoga Therapy may be a powerful and empowering way to transform your approach to health and wellbeing:
- Long Covid
- Eating Disorders
- Post-Natal Depression
- Auto-Immune Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Brain Injury
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Heart Disease