You love yoga. You’ve read the sutra and taken them to heart, and you regularly rely on your restorative practice to decompress. But now you’re wondering how else yoga can help improve your mental and physical health. Or, you have a new condition or challenge—you’re dealing with prolonged anxiety, or just had knee surgery—and are looking for complementary healing treatments. Enter yoga therapy.
This ancient tradition combines asana, meditation, mantra, and yoga philosophy to address specific physical and mental concerns. Yoga therapy is, in essence, working one-on-one with a yoga expert on a specialized, customized, therapeutic practice that can help you with everything from easing symptoms of depression and anxiety to recovering from chemotherapy or managing diabetes.
We talked with three pioneering women in the field to get their take on the practice, and their advice for starting your own yoga therapy journey.
See also: A Brief History of Yoga Therapy
3 reasons to seek out a yoga therapist
Yoga classes address your overall health and help you to feel more flexible, balanced, and resilient, mentally and physically. A yoga therapist, on the other hand, works with a person suffering from certain maladies—rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, to name a few—and uses yoga to help alleviate symptoms, explains Ingrid Yang, MD, a practicing physician, certified yoga therapist, and 500-hour trained yoga teacher based in San Diego.