Is Yoga Therapy Always Gentle? It Depends

By Lisa Grauaug

Therapeutic yoga is often considered to be a gentle practice. This is not always the case and it will depend on the person you are working with.

Myth debunk: Therapeutic yoga is boring, slow and for the old and the sick

In therapeutic yoga a range of  yoga based practices may be recommended for our clients. And sometimes it is more appropriate to offer a strong asana practice based on the breath.

For example: It could be appropriate to offer a strong therapeutic practice for a person who is constitutionally relatively fit and athletic in nature. In fact a gentle yoga practice may not provide the motivation to inspire this person to commit to their practice daily.

It is important to note that we can work with a stronger physical practice that is therapeutic while maintaining a sense of steadiness and ease. The practices we design meet the student where they are at.

Case Study: MARY

  • 43 year old female (married, mother of 3)
  • Physically able
  • Enjoys exercise – attends gym 4 times per week
  • Currently feeling exhausted by the demands of work and family
  • Lacking energy (often wakes feeing tired and feels fatigued at the end of the day)
  • Mild digestive issues (bloating, poor appetite)
  • Mary has a ‘push push push’ ‘go go go’ mentality. She often is thinking about others and has a desire to remain fit and strong for her family.

Yoga was suggested by her GP for:

  • Stress management
  • Maintaining physical strength
  • Increased energy levels
  • Improved digestion
  • Improved quality of sleep

The Practice:

Mary was advised to substitute her gym training sessions for a daily yoga practice.

The task of the Yoga Therapist is to find an appropriate yoga practice that will support Mary’s physical and mental health.

In summary the practice is:

  • Breath-centred
  • A morning practice that includes both energising and calming aspects
  • Focused on postures that facilitate the exhalation.
  • Includes moments of rest

This is a great example that debunks the myth that yoga therapy is ‘slow and boring’. Yoga therapy is about meeting the client where they are at and designing a practice that will best support their physical and mental health.

Written by Lisa Grauaug B AppSc (Nursing), B Psych, M Psych, Adv Dip Yoga Teaching, Ayurveda Lifestyle Certificate, Perinatal Mental Health Course (USyd), Registered Psychologist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Registered Yoga Therapist (YA & IAYT), Yoga Australia Member. 

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