In case you missed it, the International Association of Yoga Therapists have recently updated their official definition of yoga therapy to clarify the role of individual assessment and goal setting in the therapeutic relationship. It provides clarification, language and an explanation that will assist practitioners in differentiating Yoga Therapy and Yoga Asana, and may also provide Yoga Therapists with words to communicate the value of the profession to others in the Yoga World, professional bodies and the general population.
The full revised definition is included here (Let us know what you think!)
Yoga is a scientific system of self-investigation, self-transformation, and self-realization that originated in India.
The teachings of yoga are rooted in the Vedas and grounded in classical texts and a rich oral tradition. This tradition recognizes that the human being’s essential nature is unchanging awareness that exists in relationship to and identification with the changing phenomena of the empirical world. The yoga tradition views humans as a multidimensional system that includes all aspects of body; breath; and mind, intellect, and emotions and their mutual interaction.
Yoga is founded on the basic principle that intelligent practice can positively influence the direction of change within these human dimensions, which are distinct from an individual’s unchanging nature or spirit.
The practices of yoga traditionally include, but are not limited to, asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra, chanting, mudra,ritual, and a disciplined lifestyle. Yoga therapy is the appropriate application of these teachings and practices in a therapeutic context in order to support a consistent yoga practice that will increase self-awareness and engage the client/student’s energy in the direction of desired goals.
The goals of yoga therapy include eliminating, reducing, or managing symptoms that cause suffering; improving function; helping to prevent the occurrence or reoccurrence of underlying causes of illness; and moving toward improved health and wellbeing.
Yoga therapy also helps clients/students change their relationship to and identification with their condition. The practice of yoga therapy requires specialized training and skill development to support the relationship between the client/student and therapist and to effect positive change for the individual. Yoga therapy is informed by its sister science, Ayurveda.
As part of a living tradition, yoga therapy continues to evolve and adapt to the cultural context in which it is practiced, and today, it is also informed by contemporary health sciences. Its efficacy is supported by an increasing body of research evidence, which contributes to the growing understanding and acceptance of its value as a therapeutic discipline.
Yoga therapy is the professional application of the principles and practices of yoga to promote health and well-being within a therapeutic relationship that includes personalized assessment, goal setting, lifestyle management, and yoga practices for individuals or small groups.