Q: WHAT IS YOGA THERAPY?
A. Yoga Therapy is therapeutic yoga that empowers you, as the client or patient. You will work with a Certified Yoga Therapist that will create and tailor sessions for you based on your condition, disease, physical, and emotional state.
One of the most important philosophies in the Yoga Tradition, is that each person is viewed as a multi-dimensional being that includes your body, breath, mind, emotions, and their interactions. As such, a Yoga Therapist will develop a therapeutic plan and/or provide advice within the Yoga framework based on your needs, life circumstances, and access to resources and equipment.
The overarching goals of Yoga Therapy include eliminating, reducing, and/or managing symptoms that cause suffering; improving function; helping to prevent the occurrence or recurrence of underlying causes of illness; and moving toward overall improved health and well-being.
Q: WHO IS THE YOGA THERAPIST AND HOW WILL I KNOW THEY ARE NOT JUST ANOTHER YOGA INSTRUCTOR?
A. Yoga Therapists have undertaken specialized training beyond that of a Yoga Teacher. Included in that training is over 1000 hours of education and clinical practice to gain a deep level of expertise in the body, both the anatomy and physiology, how to help with mood disorders, grief, trauma, people with cancer or cardiac conditions, the aging body, including seniors and the elderly, addiction, pain, and many more.
Yoga Therapists are certified by the International Association of Yoga Therapists and will have a C-IAYT behind their name if credentialed. Yoga Therapists draw from the principles of yoga and the full range of yogic practices and assessment skills. Your Yoga Therapist will work with you to develop and implement a self-empowering therapeutic plan appropriate for your needs and oriented around prevention and health promotion.
Included in working with a Yoga Therapist, are regular check-in intervals, articles and education about Yoga Therapy and your condition or needs, Yogic lifestyle and dietary advice (that falls within the Yogic framework).
Your Yoga Therapist also has a basic understanding of different treatments and procedures from a variety of sources, and can identify and source credible and relevant information on other healthcare modalities for you, as needed. In addition, your Yoga Therapist has a basic understanding of health reports and may ask to review those with you depending on your needs.
Q: WHERE ARE YOGA THERAPY SESSIONS HELD?
A. One-on-One Yoga Therapy Session (s) OR Group Yoga Therapy:
Q: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A YOGA CLASS AND A YOGA THERAPY GROUP SESSION?
A. A hallmark that differentiates group yoga therapy from group yoga classes is the presence of an individual intake and assessment for each person from Group Yoga Therapy session prior to commencing the class, personalization of the practice (s) based on the individual assessment, and re-assessment at regular intervals through out a series of classes.
Yoga classes at a local studio are most often generalized so that most of the class can enjoy it and feel better after they leave. Although they treat everyone in the class the same, the classes are still very beneficial, particularly if one is most interested in increased flexibility, mobility, and strength only.
Q: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PHYSICAL THERAPY AND YOGA THERAPY?
Physical Therapy focuses on the specific anatomical injury with specific exercises and a set number of appointments at the practice and usually will provide take-home exercises.
Yoga Therapy treats the specific injury/illness along with the rest of the attributes that make up the individual as discussed in the “What is Yoga Therapy?” section.
For example, if you have knee surgery, physical therapy will provide exercises for the knee only. Yoga Therapy will provide movement and postures for the entire leg, hip, and work to balance the entire body – as well as any emotional challenges that may be arising such as anxiety or depression that may have stemmed from the surgery or a change in lifestyle.
Q: MY DOCTOR TOLD ME NOT TO DO YOGA, WOULD YOGA THERAPY BE DIFFERENT AND OKAY?
A. Most likely it would be okay. Most Health Care Providers think of Yoga as what they see on TV or in advertisements about bending and folding with power yoga classes, etc.
It is very rare for some type of Yoga Therapy to be contraindicated for any condition or ailment. There are specific postures that may be contraindicated based on your condition or needs, however, your Yoga Therapist will not include those in your therapeutic plan.
The best approach would be to connect your Yoga Therapist with your Health Care Provider either over the phone or over email. The Yoga Therapist can provide a written and descriptive therapeutic plan for them.
Your Yoga Therapist will also likely request a letter to clear you, medical referral, or other communication from your Provider, saying that they agree with the plan and that Yoga Therapy would support their treatment plan for you.
Q: HOW DOES MY YOGA THERAPIST INTERACT WITH MY DOCTOR AND OTHER MEMBERS OF MY HEALTH CARE TEAM?
A. With your consent, your Yoga Therapist will contact your Health Care Provider with an outline of your Yoga Therapy Program and Progress Notes as you work together.
Your Yoga Therapist creates a specialized and tailored therapeutic plan for you that supports any prescriptions, may help mitigate side effects of treatments, recommendations, or treatments that your Provider may be treating you for.
Q: HOW MANY TIMES WILL I NEED TO COME?
A. It varies. Your condition, disease, and overall therapeutic plan will dictate what and how your sessions are created, including the number of times per week or length of time.
For example, the published literature suggests for people with breast cancer, a minimum of 2 times/week for 60 minutes provide substantial benefit for managing side effects of treatment, whereas for people rehabilitating after heart by-pass surgery, the recommendations are 5 days/week for 60 minutes for a minimum of 12 weeks, along with other interventions.
Q: WILL MY INSURANCE PAY FOR YOGA THERAPY?
A. It varies. If you are working with a Yoga Therapist in a clinic or hospital, your insurance may reimburse you OR the Health Care Provider may submit your claim for your specific condition to be paid and then pay the Yoga Therapist. For example: Yoga Therapy for specific back pain, Cancer, and Cardiac Rehabilitation may be covered.
If you have a Flex Health Care Spending Account or a Health Spending Account, your Yoga Therapist may accept that for payment and provide you an invoice or a receipt for payment for your records.
The IAYT is currently working on this issue with policy makers and insurance companies to include broader coverage of Yoga Therapy.