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What is Yoga Therapy?

Yoga Therapy is the professional application of the principles and practices of yoga to promote health and well-being within a therapeutic relationship that includes  personalized assessment, goal setting, lifestyle management, and yoga practices for individuals or small groups.

International Association of Yoga Therapists,

Educational Standards for the Training of Yoga Therapist


Yoga Therapy is the application of the ancient science of yoga to enhance health and wellness at all levels of the person:  physical, psychological and spiritual.


Yoga Therapy focuses on the path of yoga as a healing journey that brings balance to the body and mind through an experiential understanding of the primary intention of yoga:  the awakening of Spirit, our essential nature.


The healing journey is unique to each individual, therefore, Yoga Therapy selects, adapts, and modifies the practices of yoga appropriately for the individual with respect to age, culture, religion, personal preference and specific physical challenges in order to facilitate optimal health and healing of the body-mind.

The Source of Disease

Yoga states that avidya, the lack of knowledge of the true Self, is the source of all disease.  Yoga Therapy works to reveal a state of health that is inherent in each individual by removing conditioning in the form of kleshas, or obstructions, in the physical body, the energy body, the mind and emotions, core beliefs and perceptions, and the spiritual body.   Self-knowledge is the antidote to avidya, and it is gained through the practice of the eight limbs of yoga.

Yoga Therapy's Approach

Yoga Techniques form the basis for treatment in Yoga Therapy and are the vehicles for self-knowledge and whole-person integration.   The techniques in themselves are not Yoga Therapy because it is self-knowledge - the result of the techniques - that leads to health.  

This approach to healing is complementary to and should not be confused with other healing systems, such as allopathic medicine and Western psychology, which have their own vision and foundations.   While Western medicine seeks to treat disease through a pathogenic approach, Yoga Therapy offers a salutogenic approach to healing.

Understanding the inherent difference between pathogenesis and salutogenesis can reduce confusion between the role of various healing systems, and aid in the understanding of the complementary nature of Yoga Therapy.   Salutogenesis focuses on the factors that promote health and well-being, while pathogenesis focuses on reducing or eliminating the courses of disesase.

Transformation and Wellness

From a yogic perspective, illness can be a signpost on the journey of self-knowledge, pointing toward transformation and wellness.  Instead of focusing on the removal of symptoms, as in allopathic medicine and pathogenesis, Yoga Therapy sees the healing process as a means of bringing the entire being into wholeness through the process of salutogenesis,  Relief from symptoms is just one facet of the healing process.

Deeper healing and connection with inherent well-being arises through the recognition that a focus on finding happiness exclusively through personality represents a misunderstanding of the purpose and meaning of life, and consequently results in suffering.  It is the cumulative effect of a life not lived as who we truly are, subsequent stress, and the effects of this stress on the physical body that may lead to illness.  All Yoga Therapy, from the most basic work with breath and asana to the subtle techniques of Karma Yoga, must be held within this framework of discerning the true meaning and intention of life.

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