Yoga Therapy is Different than Yoga?

Article by Teresa Powers

In a word, yes. Yoga therapy is different than yoga.

Relief of suffering, from a purely yoga perspective, comes from achieving a sense of enlightenment, an awareness of the true self.

This is the framework upon which yoga practice and modalities have developed for centuries. The traditional yoga experience is a spiritual journey.

Most people seek a yoga therapist to find relief from the suffering of physical and psychological pain. Although this occurs through the practice of yoga in search of enlightenment, for some people, the goal is not to reach enlightenment. The techniques of yoga can still relieve their suffering without achieving enlightenment in the traditional practice of yoga.

The focus of yoga therapy is people, not conditions. What does that mean? Well, everyone is different. What works for one person with anxiety related to trauma will not work for someone else with the same diagnosis. Two people suffering from high blood pressure will need practices designed specifically for them. So guess what? Your yoga therapy toolbox needs to have a variety of tools to ease suffering:

• Asana
• Pranayama: shift energy
• Chanting
• Philosophy
• Meditation: shift the mind

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Yoga therapy is a combination of Eastern and Western approaches to health and wellness. The eastern philosophies of Ayurveda and the yogic sciences are combined with western knowledge of anatomy, pathology and the breath. The focus then becomes holistic in nature addressing the mind, body, spirit triad.

There is no ONE approach to yoga therapy as it is an emerging field being first recognized in 1980. As a result, there are various models to choose from. Just as in psychotherapy, there are various theoretical approaches to use when working with clients. Choosing the theory that best fits you as a practitioner will benefit you and your clients.

The same applies with yoga therapy models. Choose the one that best fits your belief system but remember to keep an open mind to new information as this is a changing and developing field.

For those seeking a yoga therapist, if you find the modality being used is not beneficial for you, it’s okay to seek a different yoga therapist who uses a different modality. A few choices available to you are:

1) Viniyoga
2) Iyengar
3) Ashtanga/Power Yoga
4) Bikram/Hot Yoga
5) Kripalu
6) Nia
7) Kundalini
8) Anusara
9) Phoenix Rising
10) Integral, Integrative
11) Forrest
12) iRest

This is no different than choosing a doctor or psychotherapist. There are countless ways to achieve healing. Keep searching until you find the one that works for you.

Namaste. God bless.

Teresa Powers
Teresa Powers

Teresa Powers is a Reiki Master, child therapist, yoga instructor and certified holistic practitioner. She graduated with a MS degree in Mental Health Counseling and post degree in Play Therapy. She ran a therapeutic foster home for many years and has worked with survivors of sexual abuse. She is currently pursuing a doctorate from the University of Sedona. She runs a private practice in Englewood, CO. She can be reached on her website and on Facebook at