Yoga therapy is the use of a number of mind-body exercises — which combine focused breathing, physical postures, and meditation — in order to promote healing and improve overall wellbeing.
Yoga, meaning “union” in Sanskrit, is an ancient Indian spiritual practice used to achieve inner peace by balancing the mind, body, and spirit. While it was first introduced in the United States in the 1890s, yoga gained popularity here in the 1960s. The practice of yoga as a therapy, distinct from its spiritual origins, developed in the 1980s. Among the many styles of yoga, hatha yoga — which centers on balancing opposites in the individual — is most common in the United States. Yoga therapists pair the exercises of yoga with a scientific understanding of human physiology.
Yoga therapy can be practiced individually or in small groups. Sessions may last between 45 and 90 minutes. After the practitioner takes the client’s medical history, the practitioner guides the client through a warm up, an individualized series of poses, and meditation. The practitioner may use gentle touch to adjust the client’s poses.
Yoga therapy has been proven to reduce stress, relieve anxiety, and manage musculoskeletal pain, among numerous other therapeutic outcomes.