What is Therapeutic Yoga?
by Chelsea Henry
Therapeutic Yoga uses yoga as a specific, individualized treatment that draws on a deep expertise and understanding of the body. All yoga can have therapeutic benefits, bringing healing and balance to the body, mind, and spirit. Therapeutic Yoga, however, is designed specifically around encouraging these therapeutic benefits and comes from a place of expert anatomical and physiological training.
One great benefit of Therapeutic Yoga is that it opens up yoga practice to a much larger population than would otherwise try yoga. An important goal of classes is that students leave feeling better than when they came in, and that they feel successful at having done yoga, regardless of the injury, disease, or illness they might be working with.
A Therapeutic Yoga class meets the students where they are, so that they are not struggling and can really find inner rest. It is not just a gentle approach, but also very precisely meets their body with support at the exact right angle for their needs, using blankets and other props as well as hands-on adjustments.
As an example, in our Neck and Back Care Yoga class, blanket support and other adjustments are used to really specialize and create the right angle to access the spine specifically. Every pose begins with pranayama breathing practice, and then the sequences begin by opening up the tailbone, and then the sacrum area, lumbar spine, and ribcage. People often come in with neck and shoulder issues and find that just the breathing itself begins to open up their range of motion, changing the neck by opening the spine, and then they feel an improvement in their neck and shoulders.
Therapeutic Yoga is a powerful healing method, accessible to every body. Students don’t have to be advanced practitioners, or even flexible. This is a reasonable self-care tool that meets students exactly where they are, at the intersection of their mind and their body. It is like finding a sliding door, rather than pushing or pulling the door to get in, and it accesses the amazing healing power of our bodies.
Ryoko Suzuki contributed to this article.