What’s Yoga Therapy?

It took The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IATY) more than 20 years to craft an official definition. “Yoga therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the philosophy and practice of Yoga.”

OMK (Oh My Krishna!). That sounds like the verbage my marketing colleagues (and I) crafted for all our multi-national clients. It seemed to take at least 20 brains and 20 years to get our  mission statements developed and approved. After all that many head bangings and word smithing, no wonder the end results were a bit ethereal. Too much vata in the house.

I remember sitting with one supervisor for nearly two hours as he pondered how to change just one word. With my journalism background, I was always taught to Keep It Simple Stupid. Avoid two words when one word will suffice. Choose a short word over a long word. If you’re running on, you’re running out of steam. Short sentences are better than long winded ones. Our mantra was be concise, and to the point.

TCMMy great aunt Bess once proclaimed that her granddaughter gave a speech to a large crowd. My mom asked what she spoke about, and Bess replied, “I don’t know, but pearls fell from her mouth.” Don’t know about those pearls, but the apples don’t fall far from the tree. Bess’ son was an advertising copywriter.

I think my Karma needed a zillion re-writes after decades of working on innocuous statements for noxious brands. But, hey, that’s why I decided to become a yoga therapist, and chant 108 Hare Krishnas.

So back to my own version of Webster’s. I’ll spell out my definition with my two-part breath.

1) Yoga Therapy is a crossroads of Acupuncture, Ayurveda, Physical Therapy and Psychotherapy. 2) And, oh yeah, yoga. Yoga as in pranayama. Yoga as in meditation (raja). Yoga as in mindfulness (dharana). And the footnote in the vedas, hatha yoga.

Forget the rules. No sequencing. No peak poses. No warm ups or cool downs. We’re talking personalization and customization of a holistic approach to wellness. Isn’t that what yoga is supposed to be about? MBS. Mind. Body. Soul. Not Muscles, Breathe and Stretch.

When the IAYT agreed upon their one sentence definition, they hoped it would pique the public’s curiosity and open dialogue “elevator” speeches. Hopefully my two-step stretch of the yoga therapy definition does that.


Share with me what comes to your mind with my def or theirs. In the meantime, Give me an A. And another A. Wait, wait. I promised to make it short and snappy. The definition of the two As will be another day. Another blog post.

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