If you are checking out yoga therapy for the first time, you are likely wondering what to expect in a yoga therapy session.
It really depends on why the client is seeking out yoga therapy. No two sessions will ever look the same and each client gets their own personalized wellness plan.
There are a few common reasons people decide to do yoga therapy, the most common that we see are:
- Stress and anxiety
- Trauma recovery
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Addictions or attachments to things that are harmful to the client
- Serious dis-ease or illness
Whatever the reason the client is seeking out yoga therapy, there will be intake paperwork to fill out. The questions on the paperwork allow the yoga therapist to get an idea of how you are functioning on the level of the gunas. (Basically if you are stuck in overdrive, lack of drive or somewhere in between). The gunas help the yoga therapist decide if the client is in need of more restorative practices or if the client would benefit more from a vigorous activity.
You Might Learn Yoga Postures in Yoga Therapy
When you are wondering about what to expect in a yoga therapy session it is likely that you are thinking about poses, and lots of them. However, it is not necessary to do any yoga poses in a yoga therapy program.
In a yoga therapy session the yoga therapist will determine what postures will be the most beneficial for the client. If any at all. This is one of the most beneficial facets of a yoga therapy session. In group classes the instructor doesn’t know what each student is working with in their physical bodies, they may not know about injuries or recent surgeries. You get the same class as everyone else.
The truth is, you don’t have to move a muscle in yoga therapy if you can’t, don’t want to or if it isn’t going to help you reach your goal!
If the client is able to move and would like to, the yoga therapist can design a sequence that will help the client find balance in their energy levels. If the client is in a state of lethargy or depression, the yoga therapist may give an energizing sequence to help get the body moving and invigorate the mind.
On the other hand, if the client is in a highly alert state and experiencing anxiety, they are more likely to get a few yoga postures that will help to calm the central nervous system and restore them to a state of balance.
You Will Likely Learn Breathing Practices
At Raja Yoga Therapy you will likely be given breathing exercises at some point in your sessions. We use the breath to bring us into a state of calmness and presence.
Traditionally, breathing practices (aka pranayama) were used to help extend the length of the breath. This was though to have the power to lengthen one’s natural life because the breath is the life force “prana”.
The breath can be used to bring more energy into the body or to decrease the energy in the body. In other words the breath can bring us out of lethargy or reduce anxiety because it has a direct effect on the nervous system. Here’s an article that helps explain this connection.
You Will Probably Learn Ways To Meditate
One of the most important aspects of yoga, in fact, the whole purpose of yoga according to Patanjali (who was the first to put the yogic teachings into a recordable form in the Yoga Sutras) is to still the fluctuations of the mind.
“yoga chitta vritti nirodaha” (Yoga Sutra 1.2) translates loosely to “yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind”. This tells us that yoga isn’t something that we do, it is a state of being that traditional yogis are striving to attain.
While it may not be the goal of a yoga therapy client to attain complete stillness, with a regular practice stillness comes more often, naturally. Yogis often find they are less reactive to things that used to set them off. They find that they are more content with what they have. Relationships are often improved and people often feel more peace and presence on a regular basis.
At Raja Yoga Therapy one of our go-to practices is Yoga Nidra, this is similar to a guided meditation and it is is very effective in helping people recover from the effects of trauma.
Raja Yoga Therapy also provides small-group yoga therapy sessions in Reno for people who are recovering from trauma –Savasana for Survivors. This is a donation-based service that is meant to bring the human-connection factor into trauma recovery.
You can also join the Savasana for Survivors – Basic Membership and get yoga nidra and other practices to do at home for just a few bucks a month.
You Will Likely Learn About Yogic Philosophy
The great thing about working with a skilled yoga therapist, is that you get the benefit of their hundreds (perhaps thousands) of hours of study of yogic philosophy.
Yoga philosophy teaches us about the inner workings of our mind, why we think what we think, why we feel the way we do. The ancient yogis were actually very skilled psychologists. This is very apparent in the Yoga Sutras.
Through the study of yogic philosophy, we can take back our power over our emotions, our thoughts and our lives.
In a yoga therapy session you may learn about the kleshas (the causes of our mental suffering) or the different fluctuations of the mind that lead to suffering. You will likely learn about the yamas and niyamas, the basic ethics and principles that lead to a peaceful existence.
Expect to Learn About Ayurveda in Yoga Therapy
Yoga therapists are often trained in Ayurveda. Ayurvedic principles help the yoga therapist to identify where dis-ease may be manifesting in the body. There is much to Ayurveda and if you are interested in learning how an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle can be used to prevent and treat dis-ease, it is a good idea to consult with an Ayurvedic Practitioner. Click here to access a good resource to help you find a local practitioner.
Not knowing what to expect in a yoga therapy session is likely the biggest block in people deciding to commit to it. Yoga Therapy is beneficial for literally everyone. However, it will not be sought out unless there is a problem, in most cases. What happens in a yoga therapy session depends on what is happening in the individual client. One thing is for sure. Yoga has the ability to decrease stress, reduce pain (or helps with pain management), and increase overall well-being.
If you are intrigued and wondering how yoga therapy can help you, lets set up a session! I would be honored to serve you. I offer services online and in-person, it does not matter where in the world you are.