I recently posted an article by Larry Payne, PhD and Yoga Therapist, on The Yoga Connection facebook page. His gentle, inviting approach to improving health and wellbeing is firmly rooted within the concepts of yoga therapy. But what I liked most about his article was the acknowledgement of two concepts.
1) Yoga therapy is not just physical therapy using yoga postures. It is much richer, more dimensional than that form of treatment. My greatest concern with how I often see yoga therapy used is merely modifications of poses to deal with physical issues of the client. Larry Payne reminds us that what separates yoga therapy from physical therapy are the psycho/social elements that yoga therapy tackles. By using the models of yoga therapy such as the Pancha Maya model, or the gunas model we can over examine the whole person, why they are in this physical state, and offer more than modifications of postures as a prescription for healing. Western medicine has done a spectacular job of separating the mind from the body, yoga therapy should be the union of mind and body through the many treatment models available.
2) The second point is that yoga therapy is to be used in conjunction with or following diagnosis of an illness or dysfunction. Though we, as yoga therapists, have powerful tools to help heal and improve conditions both physical and emotional, yoga therapy should be seen as an augmentation to clinical treatments, whether medical or psychological. I like to think of yoga therapy as, after the acute phase of clinical care, yoga therapy is there to support the client in teaching and empowering self-care techniques that have long-term benefits, both physical and psycho-social.
I would love to hear some feed back. Perspectives are valuable, and I enjoy listening to other therapists experiences.
My thanks to jj Gormley for her great teachings of Yoga Therapy.