Work with Cody Reece, MSN, RN, RYT, C-IAYT. Currently, 1 of only 4 Certified Yoga Therapists in the Atlanta area.
What is Yoga Therapy?
Yoga is a scientific system of self-investigation, self-transformation, and self-realization that originated in India. The teachings of yoga are rooted in the Vedas and grounded in classical texts and a rich oral tradition. This tradition recognizes that the human being’s essential nature is unchanging awareness that exists in relationship to and identification with the changing phenomena of the empirical world.
The yoga tradition views humans as a multidimensional system that includes all aspects of body; breath; and mind, intellect, and emotions and their mutual interaction. Yoga is founded on the basic principle that intelligent practice can positively influence the direction of change within these human dimensions, which are distinct from an individual’s unchanging nature or spirit. The practices of yoga traditionally include, but are not limited to, asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra, chanting, mudra, ritual, and a disciplined lifestyle.
Yoga therapy is the appropriate application of these teachings and practices in a therapeutic context in order to support a consistent yoga practice that will increase self-awareness and engage the client/student’s energy in the direction of desired goals. The goals of yoga therapy include eliminating, reducing, or managing symptoms that cause suffering; improving function; helping to prevent the occurrence or reoccurrence of underlying causes of illness; and moving toward improved health and wellbeing. Yoga therapy also helps clients/students change their relationship to and identification with their condition.
The practice of yoga therapy requires specialized training and skill development to support the relationship between the client/student and therapist and to effect positive change for the individual.
Yoga therapy is informed by its sister science, Ayurveda. As part of a living tradition, yoga therapy continues to evolve and adapt to the cultural context in which it is practiced, and today, it is also informed by contemporary health sciences. Its efficacy is supported by an increasing body of research evidence, which contributes to the growing understanding and acceptance of its value as a therapeutic discipline.
Yoga Therapy vs. Physical Therapy
Physical Therapists are “body-only” therapists. They go through extensive schooling to learn protocols to help with all areas of human muscular/structural dysfunction. Everyday they rehab patient’s painful hips, dysfunctional shoulders, back pain, etc. Although they are not Medical Doctors they are trained in diagnostic tests to figure out the root of physical problems. PT’s are very useful in helping with injuries and rehabbing from surgeries. PT’s are often limited by insurance considerations in terms of how they work and the time they can spend with patients.
Yoga Therapists work on a whole person model. When working with physical issues a Yoga Therapist is trained to work with muscular imbalances. They are trained in anatomy and how different movement patterns can help heal specific conditions. Yoga Therapists are also taught how to assess breathing patterns and how they might affect pain and healing outcomes. In addition, a Yoga Therapist is trained in how to work with someone to optimize their healing potential. So, not only do we work with movement and breath patterns, yoga therapy often includes working with different mental states, specific breathing techniques, and meditation.
There are many instances where one might want to work with a Physical Therapist and a Yoga Therapist. A PT can offer evidence-based exercises to reduce pain and restore balance. A Yoga Therapist also uses evidence-based practices and can often be helpful in finding the best way to integrate movement therapy into one’s life. A Yoga Therapist is trained to teach practice. In my opinion, this is where yoga therapy really shines. Very individualized instruction on how to move and breathe to reduce suffering. So while a PT may be your first stop in a healing process, a Yoga Therapist could be your last.
In my yoga therapy practice, I often see clients after a course of physical therapy. I have found it especially useful to work with people who have chronic complaints that PT hasn’t been able to fully address. Often the multidimensional nature of yoga therapy is the missing link that moves clients from “sort of better” to completely healed. I personally have enormous respect for both areas and hope that we continue to find ways to work together for the betterment of all.
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