Yoga is a powerful form of mind-body medicine that approaches health in a holistic manner, recognizing that physical ailments also have emotional, mental and spiritual components. But unlike a yoga class, where the teacher guides a group of students through a practice, a yoga therapy session is focused on just one person—you. In addition, yoga therapists have extensive training in adapting the practices of yoga—such as postures, breathing and meditation—to suit the individual needs of their clients. No yoga experience is required. And despite the common misconception that you need to be flexible to practice yoga, yoga therapy can help people who have limited mobility, as well as people who are active. All you need to be able to do to practice yoga is breathe.
A growing body of evidence suggests that yoga offers numerous health benefits such as:
While all yoga is potentially therapeutic and healing, yoga therapy is the specific application of yogic tools to address your individual needs. During a yoga therapy session, the yoga therapist will work with you to create a personalized practice designed to help you reach your health goals. Working one-on-one with a yoga therapist can be particularly useful for people who are new to a yoga practice and those who have health challenges.
1. Deep listening. The initial session is 90 minutes and begins with an in-depth conversation designed to help the yoga therapist understand your health challenges, history, concerns, interests, and goals.
2. Breathing and movement instruction. You will be guided through some simple movement and breathing practices to assess your strength, flexibility, and balance as well as your habits of body and mind.
3. Creation of a personalized practice. The yoga therapist will create a personalized yoga practice designed to suit your abilities, health goals, medical challenges, interests and time. This may include postures, breathing techniques, and meditation, as well as the application of yogic principles such as gratitude and non-harming.
4. Practice instruction. After guiding you through your practice, the yoga therapist will provide materials (handouts and sometimes audio and/or video recordings) to help you practice regularly at home.
5. Return sessions. Follow-up sessions are 60 minutes and will help refine your practice and, as you become more skilled—and/or your needs change—offer modifications and/or new material.
It’s important to recognize that, while yoga has great power to heal, it only works if you practice! Because regular practice is essential to gain the benefits of yoga, it’s helpful to plan on three to six yoga therapy sessions to get you started and offer support as you establish your home yoga practice. After this initial period, some individuals enjoy having regular sessions, monthly or weekly. Others return for occasional “touch-up” visits.
In these stressful times, having a regular yoga practice can be an invaluable way to cultivate wellbeing. And it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Even just 15 to 20 minutes a day of yoga will help you stretch and strengthen your body, relax your mind, and lift your spirits.
About Individual Yoga Therapy at Duke Integrative Medicine – Now Offering Virtual Appointments.
Yoga Therapy at Duke Integrative Medicine adapts the practices of yoga, such as postures and relaxation breathing, to suit the individual needs of people with health challenges. No yoga experience is required, as the yoga therapist will individually tailor a practice designed to help you reach your health goals. We begin with a discussion about your health concerns, then work with you to create a personalized practice that suits your abilities, health challenges, interests, and time. Our individual yoga therapy sessions will empower you to progress toward greater health and well-being. We are now offering virtual visits.
About Carol Krucoff, C-IAYT, E-RYT
Carol Krucoff is a Yoga Therapist, certified by the International Association of Yoga Therapists, and an experienced, registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. She is co-director of the Integrative Yoga for Seniors Professional Trainings, and author of several books on yoga and health including “Relax into Yoga for Seniors,” and “Yoga Sparks: 108 Easy Practices for Stress Relief in a Minute or Less.” In addition to offering yoga therapy, Carol teaches Duke Integrative Medicine’s Gentle Yoga and Chair Yoga online drop-in classes.
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