We live in a blessed time, undeniably. At the click of a mouse button, we can learn all that we want—from calligraphy to coding to cooking—from within the confines of our home and without spending time trying to find an instructor who is good enough. And while, as I said, this is a great thing because of the avenues it opens, doing everything on your own may not always be a great idea.
Case in point, yoga. A more specific case in point, yoga therapy.
Before we begin to talk about the crux of this post, we’ll take a minute to understand how a yoga therapy session is different from a normal yoga session. The difference is pretty basic: A yoga session is usually a group activity focused on teaching the participants the routines of yoga in a correct and appropriate way. A yoga therapy session, on the other hand, is more individual—it is directed towards the specific needs of a person, for example, a medical condition. More than the routine of yoga, yoga therapy focuses on improvisations according to the participant’s needs.
Yoga therapy, although targeted at a specific ailment, works on holistic improvement keeping that condition in mind. Here’s why doing this with a yoga therapist will ensure the best results for you:
- In a yoga class, I had joined a while back, after a demonstration of every asana, our instructors would also show us the common mistakes people made and how we needed to avoid them. The point being, no matter what we do, we are bound to make mistakes.
There is no real learning unless we’ve made mistakes. This is where having an experienced therapist benefits you. Remember that we all do not make the same mistakes. We all have our limitations and our way of learning and doing things.
For something as specific as yoga therapy, it, therefore, becomes important to have somebody guide you in identifying your mistakes and correcting them as you go along.
- While everything can be learnt online, not having a yoga therapist makes you miss out on real-time feedback, the most important aspect of a learning experience. You need a therapist in front of you to help you not just correct your mistakes but also identify what you don’t know are mistakes or areas that need improvement. Feedback on things like your form is best given in person because your online instructor has no idea what and how you are doing something wrong.
- How do you know when to up your level? Things become sensitive, especially, when you are working on a medical condition. You don’t want to overdo it, but you can’t stay stagnant either.
This is where you need a yoga therapist. A yoga therapist will not just tell you when it is time to start switching from basic to advanced, but he/she will also modify every asana to make sure it does not aggravate your condition. What needs to be understood here is: It isn’t about just upping your level; it is about upping your level in a way that helps you (over harming you).
- The other side of this coin is how much pain is enough pain and how much is too much pain. We can be extremely tough with ourselves, or too lenient. Either way, the extremes may not be the right thing to do.
A judgment call like this needs a thorough understanding of the human body and the targeted ailment. Needless to say, the expertise of a therapist is what helps here. The therapist will know how to modify your stretches and asanas to suit not just the targeted ailment, but your overall health.
- A lot of yoga and, by extension, yoga therapy, is not just about how you do the poses, but also about how you breathe in that order. You obviously need someone watching you in person to ascertain where you are going wrong with this very important aspect of a yoga therapy session.
- The biggest advantage of having a yoga therapist around is the massive amount of encouragement, guidance, and positivity that you get. More than wrong poses and incorrect breathing, the biggest dampener is a broken will or a will that breaks down the way, when the results are slow. You need someone who pushes you, tells you your strengths, motivates you. By yourself, this doesn’t happen or doesn’t happen as effectively.
Like I’ve already said before, people go for a yoga therapy session when they are looking at curing something very specific or aim at gaining overall fitness. Incorrect form and/or breathing can work in exactly the opposite way than it is meant to. A yoga therapy session works on the principle that every person has a different body, a different set of strengths, a different set of limitations, and a different way of dealing with things. And a one-on-one session is what determines these things. Yoga therapists work at not just the physical level, but also help a participant at an emotional level. Having one will give you far more effective results than a do-it-yourself ever can.
Nikita Jhanglani is a technical and creative content writer, editor and book blogger. Currently, she is into world domination, one checklist at a time.