The following is a list of tentative definitions of Yoga Therapy by the International Association of Yoga Therapy:
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.
~ What is Yoga Therapy? - An IAYT Definition
Yoga therapy is a self-empowering process, where the care-seeker, with the help of the Yoga therapist, implements a personalized and evolving Yoga practice, that not only addresses the illness in a multi-dimensional manner, but also aims to alleviate his/her suffering in a progressive, non-invasive and complementary manner. Depending upon the nature of the illness, Yoga therapy can not only be preventive or curative, but also serve a means to manage the illness, or facilitate healing in the person at all levels.
~ TKV Desikachar & Kausthub Desikacha
Yoga therapy, derived from the Yoga tradition of Patanjali and the Ayurvedic system of health care refers to the adaptation and application of Yoga techniques and practices to help individuals facing health challenges at any level manage their condition, reduce symptoms, restore balance, increase vitality, and improve attitude.
~ Gary Kraftsow - American Viniyoga Institute
Yoga therapy is that facet of the ancient science of Yoga that focuses on health and wellness at all levels of the person: physical, psychological, and spiritual. Yoga therapy focuses on the path of Yoga as a healing journey that brings balance to the body and mind through an experiential understanding of the primary intention of Yoga: awakening of Spirit, our essential nature.
~ Joseph LePage, M.A. - Integrative Yoga Therapy (U.S.A.)
Yoga therapy adapts the practice of Yoga to the needs of people with specific or persistent health problems not usually addressed in a group class.
~ Larry Payne, Ph.D - Samata Yoga Center (U.S.A.)
Yoga therapy is the adaptation of yoga practices for people with health challenges. Yoga therapists prescribe specific regimens of postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques to suit individual needs. Medical research shows that Yoga therapy is among the most effective complementary therapies for several common ailments. The challenges may be an illness, a temporary condition like pregnancy or childbirth, or a chronic condition associated with old age or infirmity.
~ Robin Monro, Ph.D - Yoga Biomedical Trust (England)
Yoga comprises a wide range of mind/body practices, from postural and breathing exercises to deep relaxation and meditation. Yoga therapy tailors these to the health needs of the individual. It helps to promote all-round positive health, as well as assisting particular medical conditions. The therapy is particularly appropriate for many chronic conditions that persist despite conventional medical treatment.
~ Marie Quail - Yoga Therapy and Training Center (Ireland)
(Yoga therapy is) the use of the techniques of Yoga to create, stimulate, and maintain an optimum state of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
~ Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D.
Yoga therapy consists of the application of yogic principles, methods, and techniques to specific human ailments. In its ideal application, Yoga therapy is preventive in nature, as is Yoga itself, but it is also restorative in many instances, palliative in others, and curative in many others.
~ Art Brownstein, M.D.
Yoga therapy may be defined as the application of yogic principles to a particular person with the objective of achieving a particular spiritual, psychological, or physiological goal. The means employed are comprised of intelligently conceived steps that include but are not limited to the components of Ashtanga Yoga, which includes the educational teachings of yama, niyama, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. Also included are the application of meditation, textual study, spiritual or psychological counseling, chanting, imagery, prayer, and ritual to meet the needs of the individual. Yoga therapy respects individual differences in age, culture, religion, philosophy, occupation, and mental and physical health. The knowledgeable and competent yogi or yogini applies Yoga Therapy according to the period, the place, and the practitioner's age, strength, and activities.
~ Richard Miller, Ph.D
Yoga therapy is of modern coinage and represents a first effort to integrate traditional yogic concepts and techniques with Western medical and psychological knowledge. Whereas traditional Yoga is primarily concerned with personal transcendence on the part of a "normal" or healthy individual, Yoga therapy aims at the holistic treatment of various kinds of psychological or somatic dysfunctions ranging from back problems to emotional distress. Both approaches, however, share an understanding of the human being as an integrated body-mind system, which can function optimally only when there is a state of dynamic balance.
~ Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D.
What if religion was each other?
If our practice was our life?
If prayer was our words?
What if the temple was the Earth?
If forests were our church?
If holy water -- the rivers, lakes, and oceans?
What if meditation was our relationships?
If the Teacher was life?
If wisdom was self-knowledge?
If love was the center of our being?
~ Ganga White - Founder of the White Lotus Foundation.
Ayurveda, the timeless art of harmonious living with the natural world, is a profound wisdom that weaves health and healing into the tapestry of daily existence. It stands as an ancient beacon of knowledge, a sacred science of life. Its mission: to preserve the vitality of the healthy and restore the well-being of the ailing. In the realm of Ayurveda, prevention and cure alike are crafted through the embrace of nature's boundless gifts.
Central to Ayurveda is the pursuit of equilibrium—a harmonious blend of the three core energies or doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These doshas harmonize not just with our bodies but with the symphony of mind and the resonance of our very souls. Ayurveda extends beyond the individual, seamlessly connecting our existence to the grand tapestry of the universe itself.
Ayurveda, in its truest essence, epitomizes holistic healing. The body dances with the mind, and both engage in a symphonic dialogue with the world and its people. Here, health encompasses not just the physical but the emotional, and indeed, the spiritual. It is a system that recognizes life's various layers and their profound interconnection.
This art of self-healing embodies an array of practices: from mindful nourishment, exercise, and rest to meditation, breathing exercises, and the use of medicinal herbs. In Ayurveda, purification and rejuvenation become art forms through which body, mind, and spirit are lovingly attended to. Sound, color, and aromatherapy, among other adjunct therapies, find their place in this holistic orchestra. This blog's aim is to introduce you to these natural methods, empowering you to craft a lifestyle that suits your unique needs, fostering health and balance.
"Ayurveda" itself derives from the Sanskrit words "ayus" (life) and "veda" (knowledge). This sacred science posits that each of us embodies both cosmic energies and a unique identity. It introduces the concept of "prakruti," an individual's psychobiological composition shaped by the dance of universal energies—Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth—since conception. This, in turn, orchestrates the birth of the three doshas.
Vata emerges from Ether and Air, embodying the energy of motion; Pitta, a fusion of Fire and Water, governs digestion and transformation; and Kapha, formed by Water and Earth, rules structure and lubrication. The moment of fertilization sets the stage: the most predominant doshic influences from our parents, influenced by season, time, emotional state, and the quality of their relationship, become the constellation that defines our individuality.
In contemporary terms, this cosmic blueprint aligns with our genetic code. Yet, Ayurveda dubs it "prakruti" or individual constitution—a lifelong constant, a singular pattern of physical, mental, and emotional traits. But life's relentless forces—age, environmental shifts, the ever-turning seasons, shifting emotions, and dietary choices—unsettle this inner balance.
Though the underlying structure of our prakruti remains a fixed reality, our home base or essential individuality, it is constantly bombarded by numerous forces. An unhealthy diet, mounting stress, insufficient exercise, and bottled-up emotions all conspire to disrupt our doshic equilibrium. Each disturbance breeds a host of ailments: from the stubborn grip of colds in a Kapha excess to fiery eruptions of anger in a Pitta surge, and the erratic, anxious tempests stirred by a Vata imbalance. These maladies all trace their roots to an internal disruption, a tipping of our inner scales. Ayurveda's prescription? Healing, in its myriad forms, for every soul in every walk of life.
As life's currents shift—be it in age or in the world around us, transitioning through seasons of warmth and chill, our thoughts fluttering like leaves in the wind—we must adapt to retain our inner harmony. Some changes occur organically, thanks to the body's innate wisdom. Yet, many require conscious choice.
Maintaining balance involves a delicate juggling act with the doshas—nudging Vata, Pitta, or Kapha as the situation demands. This dance calls for constant awareness, a continuous flow of healing, moment to moment.
Hence, Ayurveda underscores that healing is a way of life, demanding active participation. It urges us to take the reins of our existence, one choice at a time. Through diet, relationships, our profession, and the tapestry of life itself, we can make choices that foster prevention, self-healing, wholeness, and growth toward fulfillment.
In Ayurveda's eyes, our lives possess a grand purpose: the pursuit of Cosmic Consciousness, the understanding of our place in the grand tapestry of existence. This journey guides our daily choices and casts its influence on our lives, touching every facet of our existence.
The foundation of these life pursuits rests upon health, the cornerstone for upholding dharma (righteousness), accumulating artha (wealth), nurturing kama (positive desires), and transcending into moksha (spiritual liberation). Good health emerges as an indispensable prerequisite, shaping our quest for purpose, success, positive aspiration, and spiritual liberation. It is the wellspring from which these life aspirations flow.
In my many years of immersing myself in the world of yoga and Ayurveda, I have repeatedly witnessed the profound impact of lifestyle choices. These choices, encompassing diet, exercise, and daily routines, possess the remarkable power to both heal and afflict. Health, it seems, is deeply entwined with the intricacies of daily existence.
Many health challenges, I have observed, stem from the relentless currents of our everyday lives—stresses born of family and relationship dynamics, concerns about livelihood, and financial worries. Others are the direct offspring of our dietary indiscretions, our exercise habits—or the lack thereof.
Throughout my journey, I've grown increasingly attuned to illness as an invitation for self-transformation, an opportunity to reevaluate our thoughts, emotions, diets, and self-care. What continues to astonish and inspire me is how swiftly and potently life can redirect itself when we harness the wisdom of proper nourishment, herbal remedies, meditation, a suitable exercise regimen, and other natural methods.
The wisdom imparted in our Ayurveda Studies springs from my personal experience, rooted in the principles and practices developed over millennia. Ayurveda's tradition spans more than five millennia, a testament to its enduring wisdom. This ancient science continues to offer its invaluable guidance and practical knowledge.
Around 900 B.C., three luminaries—Charaka, Sushruta, and Vagbhata—etched the principles of Ayurveda into the annals of history. Their textbooks remain venerated references in Ayurvedic schools and colleges across India, still illuminating the path for students, practitioners, and teachers alike.
Ayurveda stands as the quintessential mother of all healing systems, birthing numerous branches of medicine as we know them today. From pediatrics and ophthalmology to plastic surgery and psychiatry, Ayurveda's influence reverberates through modern healthcare. It is the bedrock upon which systems like massage, nutritional counseling, herbal remedies, acupuncture, and meditation stand.
The sage-physician Charaka, a pioneer of Ayurvedic medicine, echoed a profound sentiment: "A physician, though well versed in the knowledge and treatment of disease, who does not enter into the heart of the patient with the virtue of light and love, will not be able to heal the patient." As I continue on my path of self-education and share with you the wisdom I've gathered, I pledge to uphold this sacred teaching. I urge you, too, to extend this love and light as you employ this knowledge to heal both yourself and others.
Love, in all its radiant splendor, forms the bedrock of existence. This section of my website is penned with boundless love, offered to you with the hope that the insights herein will unfurl as a vital thread in your tapestry of self-healing and sustained well-being.
"Healing is not just about addressing symptoms; it's about restoring harmony within, aligning with the rhythms of nature, and embracing the wisdom of Ayurveda to nurture a life of wellness." ~ Ashley
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being. ~ Ashley
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by Amy Ippoliti
Enlightenment Is Your Nature: The Fundamental Difference Between Psychology, Therapy, and Meditation
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