Yoga Therapy: A way of healing inside and out

By Tamara Gillest

Health is a balance. In 1948 the World Health Organization defined health as “a complete state of physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” For good health we require strength, flexibility, structural alignment, proper functioning of body systems and mental steadiness. Yoga therapy- a new kid on the healing block in some ways compliments Western medicine and other healing modalities such as physiotherapy, massage, chiropractor and acupuncture.
Yoga therapy is all about treating the whole person: mind, body and spirit. The International Association of Yoga Therapists states “yoga therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well being through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga.” It is based on the belief that human beings are born with the ability to heal and need only to remove the physical, emotional and spiritual blocks in order to let that natural ability shine through.

A Yoga therapist’s main tools are breath education, movement and postures, and stillness. This can include yoga postures, different breathing methods, mindfulness, education, meditation and relaxation.
While yoga classes are taught in groups and are often general in nature, yoga therapy is usually one on one and very specific to the person in the session. Yoga therapy is person centered. It treats the person rather than the disease. It is a compassionate look at a person’s way of being, moving, doing and how they think, breathe and eat. Each person is given a unique program specially formatted for them in how they are in the present moment. No cookie cutters!

A yoga therapy session is multi leveled utilizing the five dimensions of the body ( koshas) from the yoga tradition.

Yoga for physical balance: Physical balance focuses on the importance of sustaining joint stability, good posture, increased mobility and balance.

Yoga for Energetic balance: Bringing your energetic bank account back into balance by exploring breathing, movement, and daily routine activities.

Yoga for Mental balance: A combination of asana, breath work, hand gestures and mantras create new neurological pathways which sharpen memory and keep you active.

Yoga for Emotional Balance: Replenish what makes your heart sing. Through a powerful combination of breath work, gentle restorative poses relaxation, anxiety decreases and a state of calm connectedness follows.

Yoga for Spiritual balance: Nourish your spiritual heart and stay connected to what sustains you.
Some of the powerful but simple principles followed in a yoga therapy session include:

Presence: awareness and conscious intention: the connection between mind and body is powerful.
Becoming aware of what you feel in your body helps positively to influence your condition.

Breath: Proper breathing techniques are the cornerstone of yoga therapy. It is a huge step forward for balance, well being and ease.

Right Diet: Diet is a critical element to recovery and health maintenance.

Conscious relaxation: Stress is a major cause of illness. Relaxing deeply can have a positive effect on every cell in your body. It can increase you immunity and give you a much needed rest and rejuvenation.
Whether you are facing a serious condition, recovering from a surgery or physical injury, dealing with mental or emotional issues or wanting to improve your movement, yoga therapy can help you on your way back to wellness and vitality. While a yoga therapy session focuses on your specific condition it does so by using your body mind and breath to reconnect you to your own natural ability to be healthy, happy and joyful. It reconnects you back to the wonderful being that you already are.

A Certified Yoga Therapist will be registered with the IAYT (International Association of Yoga Therapists) and have gone to an accredited Yoga Therapy School.

Tamara Gillest MS, is a Certified Yoga Therapist, E-RYT-500
Owner of BendnMove Yoga and Movement Studio, West Seattle,
contact her at
Tamara has her Master’s degree in Science and is a Certified Yoga Therapist and Educator of Yoga. She currently offers individual and group yoga therapy sessions, as well as Buteyko Breath Education at her studio in West Seattle. Tamara collaborates with health care professionals to support and improve individual health and quality of life with a non-invasive, nurturing experience.

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