What is Yoga Therapy?
When we wake every day, we are new. We have refreshed our cells and our mind has rested. We have the same old aches and pains, but there is always something new too. We have a chance to make a commitment to our own healing. This is not sexy or glamorous. This could be PTSD, obesity, addiction, depression, unstable emotions, and chronic pain. Let’s face it, life happens.
For me it’s been a journey that includes plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, bursitis, scoliosis, pregnancy and post-partum recovery. That is on the outside. On the inside there is the constant self-judgment, the habit of busy-ness, and a belief of never having enough.
I have managed to moderate my misaligned, pack rat, critical self. I have been blessed with a confident and creative outward self. But I need healing every day. It feels good to heal. Like a burden has been lifted.
Yoga is the gift that keeps on giving. It is wide in its application. For example, there are poses (asanas) to limber up our hamstrings and help our back pain. These are among the things we often consider “yoga”. They are the countless poses that affect our physiology, and our other layers (koshas). These layers penetrate to our deepest Self, our Heart, and to our biggest Self, our Soul.
Also, in Yoga Therapy, there are chants (mantras), that vibrate the stuck feelings and memories to the surface. They may erupt into a stream of tears (a most high expression of spirit) or settle our scattered brains.
I “resonated” with asana and mantra, but there is so much more that Yoga Therapy can offer our sweet, suffering selves (breathing/pranayama, hand gestures/mudras, meditation/dhyana, and more). Yoga philosophy is another tool for transformation and freedom. All of Yoga eases the suffering of life:
“Yoganganusthanat asuddhiksaye jnanadiptih avivekakhyateh = By dedicated practice of the various aspects of yoga, impurities are destroyed: the crown of wisdom radiates in glory. Yoga can cure or lessen our physical, mental, moral, and spiritual sufferings” (B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, II.29).
It brings us from Suffering to Bliss. Ever tasted Bliss? No? Try Yoga! No kidding. Bliss is not so far away.
Who can benefit from Yoga Therapy?
Do you have pain? Trauma? Surgery recovery? Insomnia? Depression? Anger? If you do, Yoga Therapy can help you. I could go on. But Yoga Therapy is for everyone. Even if you feel perfectly healthy in your life, there is a constant sway or flux that we can navigate with simple tools from Yoga Therapy. Anyone can make a small change to alter his or her physiology or outlook with Yoga Therapy.
Who is a Yoga Therapist?
I found an application for my varied experience as a dancer, yogini, teacher, and friend. Yoga Therapy fulfills it. I connect to individual bodies and backgrounds and find a special package of tools for those individual needs. One of my new favorite therapies is Yantra. Yantras are geometric designs that indicate a certain Chakra (energy center or wheel), and stimulate the brain. They are fun to draw for yourself, especially if you find pleasure in doodling! And the process heals.
An example of application of a Yantra would be to create or find one to look at (like the one below) to cultivate more energy for a certain Chakra. Like this blue petal lotus Yantra for the throat chakra, it is beneficial for sore throats and pursed lips.
Need to speak your mind? Gaze at this Yantra.
Sound “Out there”?
It may be, but it works! The proof has been coming out over the years, and Yoga Therapy is gaining momentum.
The International Association of Yoga Therapists is making headlines with the power of Yoga Therapy. It is proving this power with published research and following it up with robust certification criteria.
There are currently over 125 Yoga Therapy schools around the world and more are being born. Hundreds and hundreds of hours of study and practice are required for certification. Many of these hours are dedicated to the outpouring of emotions that accompany the healing that we need. There is no way out but to walk through the fire of your desire to make a change.
Interested? Jump in! Yoga Therapy teaches us that your beautiful soul is Divine and that you are suffering because you have forgotten that you are Divine, a real Child of God.
So, Downward Facing Dog Pose cures my chronic Plantar Fasciitis, and Restorative Yoga cures my stress, but what can cure my judgment?
“My beloved child, break your heart no longer. Each time you judge yourself, you break your own heart.” (Swami Kripalvanandji). Yoga Therapy teaches us that We Are Love. Bit-by-bit, Yoga and its many therapies make this more familiar. It shows us that Bliss is ours to know and to have.
Each day is a new one. We can choose to make a small move for our own well-being. It does not have to be complex, like the many facets of the Jewell that is Yoga. Open your heart to what Yoga can offer you. You are the Gift to the world. Let your Light shine.
I look forward to seeing you through a healing and enlightening journey in my Restorative Yoga Therapy classes Wednesdays from 6:30-7:45pm.