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What to Expect from a Yoga Therapy Session?

*Defining yoga therapy

Yoga therapy is an emerging profession defined by the International Association of Yoga Therapists as “…the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of Yoga.”[1] Yoga looks at human beings from a multidimensional perspective, addressing their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. By applying the tools of yoga (yoga poses, breath-work, meditation, and ethical guidelines), yoga therapy addresses the underlying causes of diseases and suffering by self-empowering individuals to progress toward health and well-being. Yoga therapy serves a guideline and complementary modality to other healthcare practices and treatments in order to promote the client’s healing process. The profession of yoga therapy requires a high standard of training and skill development to provide the highest quality of care. [2]

*Working with the client

A yoga therapy session can happen in one-on-one or group settings and adapts practices to the individuals as well as their social and cultural environment. At the beginning of the yoga therapy session, an assessment and intake process is performed in order to develop an appropriate and individualized plan of care.

  • The yoga therapy plan should address the client’s needs and goals to optimize physical, mental, psychological, social, and spiritual functioning.

  • The yoga therapist guides the clients in implementing the plan of care as well as teaches the clients the practices that will align with their goals to promote their process of healing.[3]

  • The yoga therapist gives clear instructions for the practice as well as for lifestyle changes to meet the client’s goal and improve their health and well-being. Providing client-specific modifications for postures and practices is essential to restore proper bio-psycho-social functioning.

  • The yoga therapist is expected to ensure the safety of the clients and provide a scientific evidence-based approach on the most recent research, to inform the validity of the methodologies offered during the sessions.

*Scope of practice and role of the yoga therapist

The yoga therapist is required to:

  • understand and integrate information, health reports, and diagnoses provided by other healthcare professionals and other sources

  • have a foundational knowledge of common diseases and symptoms, as well as the effects of medications and to use this understanding to design an individualized therapy plan

  • demonstrates an essential interpretation of how to overcome interpersonal difficulties that may arise in therapeutic relationships

*The client's responsibility

  • The client is asked to be present on time and engage in every session

  • To ensure the success of the therapy, the client is expected to commit to performing the assigned home practice

  • During the session as well as during home practice the client must follow the safety instructions of the yoga therapist

*Referral to another professional

A yoga therapist is required to:

  • Refer the clients out to appropriate therapists or medical professionals when necessary

  • When required, consult or engage with a multi-disciplinary healthcare team to optimize the treatment process of the client

  • Gain an understanding of current evidence-based yoga practices

  • Have a basic understanding of different treatments and procedures from a variety of sources, or be able to identify and source credible and relevant information on other healthcare modalities

  • For referrals, maintain a network of healthcare practitioner peers [4]


[1], [3], International Association of Yoga Therapists, (2016), Retrieved from:

[2], [4] International Association of Yoga Therapists, (2016), Retrieved from:

Erika Gantner

202-569 5222
8911 Ridge Place,

Bethesda, Maryland 20817

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