Many people are already familiar with the benefits of yoga poses and meditation. While yoga originated in India, it’s popular in both the East and the West. This activity is a way to simultaneously work on your body and mind while reducing stress and toning muscles.

However, a sun salutation isn’t just a way to exercise, there are also therapeutic benefits to doing yoga. Yoga therapy, in particular, is a discipline that uses yoga to heal on a mental and physical level.

In this article, we’re going to look at yoga therapy, what it is, how it works, and where it came from and you’ll soon see just how useful yoga therapy is and how interesting its history is.

What Is Yoga Therapy?

Yoga therapy, unsurprisingly, is based on yoga, an activity that you’re probably familiar with. Through yoga poses, breathing exercises, and sophrology, you can heal your body and mind.

What is yoga therapy?
Yoga therapy is a discipline that's based on yoga, meditation, and controlled breathing. (Source: Devanath)

This discipline can be used to improve your well-being and help with both physical and mental health problems and is described thus:

“Yoga therapy is the specific use of yoga techniques to prevent and treat certain physical or mental conditions.”

It’s regularly used for many different conditions. Yoga and mindfulness can be used to restore balance, strengthen certain parts of the body, and even bring about relaxation, all without any medical treatment.

Yoga therapy has been proven to have a positive effect on patients, especially on their emotional and psychological wellbeing.

Yoga therapy sessions may be private or in a group and group yoga therapy sessions are a good way to start practising yoga therapy with a yoga teacher. Of course, you can’t fully replace modern medical treatment with yoga therapy as yoga therapy is generally used to complement medical treatments by helping the patient to relax and deal with their pain.

In short, practising yoga therapy is very effective as a complement to other medical treatments.

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A Brief History of Yoga Therapy

The term yoga therapy was created in 1970 by Doctor Bernard Auriol. The French psychiatrist and psychotherapist specialising in states of consciousness had the novel idea of mixing classic psychoanalysis from the West with Eastern disciplines such as yoga.

When was yoga therapy created?
Unsurprisingly, yoga therapy is based on yoga, which was created in India many centuries ago. (Source: balouriarajesh)

He was one of those who fought for yoga to be taught in France. The main teaching is based on the principles of Hatha Yoga but that doesn’t mean yoga therapy can’t draw upon other types of yoga. Even though he was met with some opposition, Doctor Auriol showed that yoga therapy could benefit for those in psychiatric hospitals.

Having thus shown a way that the new method could be used to treat patients, Doctor Auriol set about spreading the word about yoga therapy in France. Two yoga therapy organisations were created in the country.

  • The Institute of Yoga Therapy (IDYT) was founded in 1993 by Doctor Lionel Coudron, allowing carers and professionals to receive training for two years.
  • The French Federation of Yoga Therapy (FFYT) was founded in 2014, allowing budding yoga therapists to receive training.

Yoga therapy was born in France and is now known across the world for the benefits it can have on the body and mind.

The Principles of Yoga Therapy

Yoga therapy exercises are often as simple as possible. The goal isn’t to put in the maximum amount of effort but rather to complete simple and slow movements. It has to be accessible to everyone, especially those with mental or physical conditions.

What are the principles of yoga therapy?
Yoga therapy is accessible to many but certain exercises may need to be adapted to the person doing it. (Source: StockSnap)

Yoga therapy is based on around 50 fundamental yoga exercises which are adapted to the patient by the yoga therapist. There are several types of exercises: physical, relaxing, meditative, respiratory, and philosophical. They come from various types of yoga: Nidra, Vinyasa, Iyengar, Ashtanga, and Ayurveda.

The poses in yoga are called Asanas; the main exercises that yoga therapy patients will do. Then there are breathing exercises, known as Pranayama, which are as important for the body as they are the mind. Finally, there are the symbolic and spiritual exercises known as Mudras.

A yoga therapy session tends to follow a specific order but it can change according to the patient. Here are some of the exercises you could practise during your sessions:

  • Meditation
  • Extended Side Angle Pose
  • Stretches
  • Shavasana
  • Synchronised breathing
  • Half Bridge Pose
  • Halasana
  • Sun salutation
  • Stomach massage

These are some very simple exercises that almost everyone can do. They allow you to effectively work on several parts of the body and strengthen your immune and nervous systems at the same time.

It’s easy to improve your health with yoga therapy.

Advice for Getting the Most of Yoga

Firstly, you need to practise regularly. Yoga therapy won’t work if you don’t have a healthy lifestyle.

There are 5 main pillars to help you improve your physical and mental health:

  • Lifestyle
  • Diet
  • Relations with others
  • Physical activity
  • Working on your mental health (emotional and spiritual)
How can you do yoga therapy?
The principles of yoga can be applied to what you eat, how you socialise, and how you take care of yourself. (Source: StockSnap)

Yoga therapy works best when you eat healthily and when you’re hungry, exercise regularly, and strengthen your immune system through sport or exercise. In terms of your mental well-being, you need to communicate with others and have healthy relationships in your life.

Meditation is also something you can practise outside of your yoga therapy and it’s recommended that you integrate this into your daily life. You can work on yourself for a few minutes each day and alleviate psychological and physical pressure.

Bit by bit, you’ll start to see the benefits of yoga therapy and the accompanying lifestyle and feel better in your body and mind and you’ll gain vitality as you reach the end of your recovery, especially in terms of pain management and relaxation.

In short, yoga therapy is as much a philosophy as it is a physical activity. It recentres the person whether they do it as a complement to medical treatment or on its own and makes use of ancient Indian techniques designed to cure physical illness and mental health issues such as insomnia.

From yoga postures to breathing techniques, when you do yoga, be it Ashtanga yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Hot Yoga, etc., you'll enjoy the restorative properties of yoga including stress reduction and improved flexibility.

Now you should know a bit more about where yoga therapy came from and what it’s for. To learn even more, you can read our other articles on the subject. Similarly, you can also get private tutorials from one of the many experienced and talented yoga teachers and tutors on Superprof!

There are a lot of different types of yoga available and three main types of yoga tutorial available on Superprof: face-to-face, online, and group. Each type of tutorial comes with a set of pros and cons and what's right for one person may not be right for another so you need to think carefully about choosing the right tutor and the right type of private tutorial.

Face-to-face tutorials are between you and your tutor; there's nobody else there. This is great if you require highly-tailored yoga therapy, for example. However, as a bespoke and tailored service, these tutorials tend to be the most costly per hour. With your tutor dedicating every minute of the session to you, they're also the most cost-effective type of tutorial.

Online tutorials, while usually better for academic subjects, can be quite useful if you're on a budget. Since the tutor doesn't have to travel and can also schedule more sessions per week, they have the potential to earn more and spend less and can charge a more competitive rate for their tutorials. If you prefer a hands-on approach, these tutorials won't be for you, but if you have a decent webcam, microphone, and internet connection, you can get quality and tailored tutorials without having to break the bank.

Finally, group tutorials are similar to traditional yoga therapy sessions and you won't be the only person there. With multiple attendees footing the bill, these tend to be cheaper per person per hour than the other types of tutorial but it does mean that the lessons won't be tailored for you. Since most yoga therapy is geared towards a specific condition or ailment, most of you there will have the same needs and goals. This means you can all benefit from affordable private tutoring and yoga therapy and maybe even make some new friends.

Have a look around on the website for different tutors and make sure you make the most of the tutors that offer the first hour of tuition for free!

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