Yoga Therapy is a holistic system of addressing health concerns by looking at the many levels of a person. Each prescribed course for restoration of balance is different. Based on classical yoga philosophy by Patanjali and the medical system called ayurveda, yoga therapy may prescribe treatments such as yoga postures and breathing, bodywork, diet, prayer, life style changes, exercise, etc.

Structural Yoga Therapy focuses on systematic anatomical evaluation of a person’s musculature. The therapist tests each muscle group for range of motion, muscle strength and pain. Each degree of motion is recorded and added to the whole person picture and to see progress later on. Targeted asana and pranayama recommendations are chosen after careful considerations of what will most effectively bring balance structurally and otherwise.
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In this article:

The Yogic Approach to Restoration of Balance

To be in balance means that all the elements of one’s life function harmoniously. These include: mental attitude, food, hygiene, the body and breath, social interaction, the behavior of the senses, one’s state of mind, and so on. To become fully balanced, one must typically address many of these areas.

View of Disease in Yoga Therapy

Disease is, in fact, the indicator or symptom of a disintegrated system. Yoga therapy is often used as an alternative or adjunct to other kinds of health care. But in the context of one’s overall self-improvement, its more significant use is as a method of removing obstacles to clear perception, the first step in personal reintegration.

In any illness or problem, the therapist usually finds social, structural, functional, and psychological aspects, which relate to the cause and cure of the identified symptom. For example, a scoliosis-usually identified as merely a structural problem-will often have associated functional problems, and a myriad of psychological effects as well. In every case, it is absolutely essential to examine as many levels of a person’s history as possible, and to include these in the treatment. In this way, each treatment is uniquely fitted to the patient.

Holistic approach

The underlying premise of this system is to treat the whole person, and not just the disease. Therefore, each prescribed course is different. Not only do the areas of treatment differ, but also the manners in which they are used vary according to the individual. These programs consider physical exercises, dietary habits, work schedule, family matters, and so on.

A Yoga therapist aims at restoring this balance by understanding the individual, the environment in which the individual is operating, and the interplay between the two, looking for the factors that account for the imbalance.

Above 5 paragraphs from (page 192-6)
Yoga For Body, Breath, and Mind © 2002
By A.G. Mohan
By arrangement – Shambala Publications ltd.
Boston, MA

Deep Yoga Therapy

The yogic view of anatomy indicates that we are multidimensional beings. This translates to the perspective that what we feel may not always be in our physical body. Pain felt in the chest could be other than muscular, cardiovascular, neurological, or respiratory. It could be the pain of losing a dear friend. This emotionally based pain can lead to a shortening of muscle fibers and a resultant feeling of tension and stress. When we translate all feelings into physically caused reactions, we look to a medical specialist for the answer. When we translate feelings as something based in emotional psychology, we are more prone to consider a psychotherapist or psychoanalyst for help.

The yogic perspective is to consider all pain as having its source in a lack of understanding of ourselves. When we know the body well, we can find the tools to be free of physical pain. In the same way, when we know our emotional nature thoroughly, we can direct our attention to the state of just being present to immediate feelings. This can have a tendency to remove the pains of the past.

Yoga for Specific Goals

The following specific goals can be addressed by a yogi with the help of a skilled yoga therapist:

Managing stress, improving posture, relief of pain, enhancing body awareness, increasing strength, increasing joint freedom and mobility, cardiovascular fitness, digestive health, immune strengthening, meditation practice, developing a spiritual practice, classical yoga practice, secrets of yoga.

Above 3 paragraphs from (page 315 & 261)
Structural Yoga Therapy © 2000
By Mukunda Stiles
By arrangement

Four diagnostic tools of yoga therapy

The therapist recognizes that a specific symptom may reflect different causes in different people, and therefore requires a wide spectrum of treatments, each dependent upon the individual case. To do this accurately involves obtaining as much pertinent information about the individual and his/her life as possible.

There are four basic tools used by a yoga therapist. First is visual observation of a person’s appearance, mannerisms, interaction, and behavior. Second is inquiry, which is questioning the client about main complaint, state of health, and goal in yoga. Questioning is an art in which the client is made to feel at ease. Third is the physical examination, which includes body reading, palpation and anatomical testing of muscles. Fourth is pulse reading which is taken by feeling the person’s wrist usually. This can often reveal a client’s stamina, emotional temperament as well as ayurvedic tendencies.

Treatments of yoga therapy

Treatments of Yoga therapy include asana (yoga postures), pranayamas (breathing exercises), hands on body work, diet, reflection, prayer, personal disciplines and lifestyle changes such as vacations, pilgrimage or job changes. The common yogic means of addressing imbalance in one’s life is through using the above disciplines as treatments.
Above 3 paragraphs from (page 196)
Yoga For Body, Breath, and Mind © 2002
By A.G. Mohan
By arrangement – Shambala Publications ltd.
Boston, MA