Modern yoga therapy can be traced back to the yoga master T. Krishnamacharya, who produced students that became the West’s most influential teachers of therapeutic yoga, including his son TKV Desikachar and BKS Iyengar.
Yoga therapy is the adaptation of yoga practices for people with health challenges. Yoga therapists prescribe specific regimens of postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques to suit individual needs. Medical research shows that Yoga therapy is among the most effective complementary therapies for several common aliments. The challenges may be an illness, rehabilitation following an accident, injury or surgery, a temporary condition like pregnancy or childbirth, or a chronic condition associated with old age or infirmity.
Yoga can also be hugely beneficial for managing high blood pressure, coping with the effects of cancer treatments, or treating symptoms of HIV, depression or anxiety. But lately it’s become especially popular for musculoskeletal issues like lower and upper back pain, sciatica, and shoulder, neck and hip pain.
Physical therapists use many methods, from targeted stretches to deep tissue massage; exercises with props including blocks, belts, massage balls, fit balls, or a wall; and heat and/or ice therapy at home.
A yoga therapist works primarily with yoga moves, and clients typically leave with instructions on a custom series of poses that change each week according to the student’s progress.
Yoga therapy advocates believe that since yoga is a holistic discipline — teaching that the mind, body, and spirit are connected — yoga therapy can go beyond the results that are possible with physical therapy.
Yoga therapy is very much about the whole person. It is complementary to physical therapy, but we take into account that back pain may be related to an emotional element, or it may be from lifestyle, some pattern that is not serving them, physical movement patterns or other patterns.