Yoga therapy is an approach to therapy which revolves around the use of yoga poses and other techniques from yoga, such as breathing and meditation. Yoga therapy can be used in a psychotherapy program and also as part of a physical therapy program. Formal certifications in yoga therapy are not offered in many regions of the world, which means that patients need to be careful about whom they work with, as any yoga practitioner can claim to offer yoga therapy, but only someone with adequate training and qualifications can offer truly beneficial therapy.
In the case of yoga therapy for psychological issues such as stress, grief, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and so forth, yoga is integrated into the psychotherapy session. Yoga can trigger immense emotional release, which can be beneficial to patients, and it can also help patients work through stress. Practitioner and therapist may go through poses together, or the therapist may direct the practitioner, and commonly the practitioner has homework in the form of breathing exercises and poses to do at home in between office sessions.
Psychological issues have been known to cause physical problems, and yoga therapy can help to address these problems. It can also help people feel more focused and balanced while they deal with various psychological issues, and may make a client more comfortable during psychotherapy sessions. Someone who is not accustomed to the idea of psychotherapy, for example, could find regular sessions alienating or uncomfortable, while the integration of yoga might enhance relaxation and help build a relationship between therapist and client.
Yoga in physical therapy can be very valuable. While physical therapists may sometimes integrate techniques from yoga, yoga therapists focus exclusively on the use of yoga to address musculoskeletal problems, injuries, surgical recovery, chronic pain, and other medical problems. The yoga is designed to strengthen and tone the body, with the therapist showing the patient how to use his or her body safely.
When seeking out yoga therapy, it is a good idea to do so through a professional organization of yoga therapists. Members of these organizations generally have demonstrated qualifications. Patients may also want to ask for recommendations from other health care providers who may have experience with yoga therapists. It also helps to ask about additional qualifications; for psychotherapy, for example, the yoga therapist should have certification in psychotherapy, and a license to practice psychotherapy. For physical therapy, a yoga therapist should have a physical therapy certification.