Hi, friend! In this follow-up to my last post introducing Yoga therapy, I'd like to provide more insight into who is a good fit for this healing modality. As always, you're encouraged to get in touch with any questions about Yoga therapy, especially if you think it could support your health and wellbeing!
(For a brief introduction to Yoga therapy, including some working definitions, please take a peek at the previous post.)
Who is Yoga therapy for?
"Yoga is for every-body."
"If you can breathe, you can practice Yoga."
Although these sentiments are definitely true, let's be honest: not everyone wants to practice Yoga. Many folks don't enjoy the practices, or don't easily connect with the philosophical lens, or may not feel ready to work on themselves. And that is so absolutely okay! There really is something for everyone.
Is Yoga that something for you, dear reader?
Are you curious about Yoga? Have you taken a couple classes and felt better in some way afterward? Are you interested in taking care of yourself - physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually? Maybe you're wondering if Yoga could help you address a health condition. Or prevent injuries. Or reduce your stress. Or help you sleep better. Perhaps you're even a long-time student or teacher who wants more personalized guidance about deepening or refining your practice.
I think Yoga is for you. And that Yoga therapy is for you.
Those who passed down to us these cherished teachings understood that Yoga can and should be explored over the course of a lifetime. Because it is a framework for self-discovery, the journey never truly ends. And it can begin as soon as the seeker is ready, evolving in a step-by-step progression known as krama. Krama ("gradually," "progressively") also refers to the stages of life from early childhood to advanced age. In each stage, our practice takes on new meaning and new emphasis:
Sṛṣṭi krama is the time for children to playfully explore movement.
Śikṣaṇa krama emphasizes a more disciplined practice with longer holds/stays, and more attention is given to breath. It is appropriate for adolescence through early adulthood.
Rakṣaṇa krama is the maintenance of good health as one takes on increased responsibilities throughout adulthood. It's an opportunity to cultivate equanimity.
Adhyatmika krama is the shift toward deep inner reflection in later years, after most family or career responsibilities have been fulfilled.
At any point along our journey of discovery, we might find ourselves blown off course, thrown out of balance, or blocked by obstacles. We need a new approach to recalibrate our compass and put us back on track. That is, in fact, its own krama - cikitsā krama ("the phase of healing").
“There are two categories of practice, the Śikṣaṇa Krama way, according to the rules, or the Cikitsā Krama way, the application or adaptation of a posture to suit a particular person or a particular situation." - TKV Desikachar, England 1992
Cikitsā krama is the essence of modern Yoga therapy - the personalized adaptation of Yoga practices to promote recovery and healing.
Now that you have an understanding of krama, why do you think we would want to adapt the practices of Yoga to a particular person or situation? Imagine a dedicated Yoga student who attends three or four group classes each week, who can easily move their body into challenging postures like a handstand, and who by all measures is in a balanced state. Ya know. Someone like this...
Then imagine that person becomes pregnant. Many of those same postures and practices now become contraindicated during pregnancy, meaning they should be avoided. In fact, a Yoga therapist would offer them differently adapted practices during each trimester, because their body and mind have different needs in each phase.
Pregnancy is a wonderful time for cikitsā krama, because the body changes day by day. As pregnancy progresses, other things change, too, like digestion and sleep. And the reality of soon becoming a parent brings up a whole host of hopes and fears. A comprehensive, thoughtfully adapted Yoga practice can support someone in all these dimensions. Can you think of other situations where cikitsā krama would be appropriate?
Cikitsā krama can be applied for recovery or healing in an endless variety of situations, including when someone is experiencing structural issues (e.g., back pain), physiological issues (e.g., disturbed digestion), or mental/emotional issues (e.g., anxiety). The person's condition could be acute - as in a recent injury that will likely heal - or chronic - like Parkinson's disease.
When I say the practice is adapted, I don't just mean you can learn to practice seated Yoga postures while a sprained ankle heals. I'm saying that the practice itself can provide a means of healing. When we experience a difficulty, there is the problem itself to deal with. But there is also the "problem of the problem," which is how we relate to the difficulty. And this is the gift of a personalized Yoga therapy practice: it holistically takes into account all the dimensions of you, to promote healing for you on all levels.
So to summarize: If you have any interest in or connection to Yoga, then Yoga therapy is for you when you are experiencing imbalance, whether it's temporary or long-term; acute or chronic; physical, physiological, mental, or emotional.
Thank you for reading, friend! I hope this has provided more clarity about Yoga therapy and who it is for. To consolidate, I'll leave you with the same reflection questions as last time. Have your answers evolved? You're invited to share your responses in the comments or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
From your experience, how has practicing Yoga supported your health or well-being? What benefits or changes have you observed?
In your own words, how would you describe or define "Yoga therapy"?
What is one physical, mental/emotional, or spiritual goal you would like to work toward? How might personalized Yoga therapy support you?
If you find that group Yoga classes don't address your needs or interests, what is holding you back from reaching out to a Yoga therapist?
If you're ready to take the next step of your Yoga journey with an individualized Yoga therapy practice, please get in touch, or schedule your consultation today!