What to Expect from a Yoga Therapy Session

As more and more research shows that yoga is helpful for a wide range of conditions, many people who were previously skeptical are starting to seriously consider yoga as an option. And although yoga as a practice is therapeutic, there are significant differences between a general yoga class and working with a yoga therapist.

Rather than focusing on yoga techniques, a yoga therapist focuses on your needs through listening, questioning, observation and appropriate hands-on adjustments, and will prepare a treatment plan that will specifically benefit you. Here’s what to expect from a yoga therapy session: 

1. Your Initial Consultation with Your Yoga Therapist
Prior to your first meeting, you'll receive forms to fill out in order to give your yoga therapist a comprehensive overview of your current health, conditions you may be facing, areas of pain and tension, emotional and mental states, and more. Your first meeting will be 90 minutes and you'll spend much of the time discussing the information on your forms, including the specific symptoms you are experiencing, and allow you time to share your story and ask questions. Then, the yoga therapist may look at your posture and go through a few yoga movements or breathing exercises to further assess your range of motion, breath capacity, lead you through a guided relaxation and more. Or you may just talk about everything...it just depends on what you need. Oftentimes, the yoga therapist may also recommend complementary modalities such as enzyme nutrition and Thai massage as part of a treament plan.

2. Immediate Follow Up
Between the initial consultation and follow up session, the yoga therapist will work to identify methods to help you manage your specific symptoms, but also look at the root cause or potential source of stress. The yoga therapist's role is to help empower you to take a more active role in your own self-care and during this follow up session, you'll go through the series of yoga practices, such as asana (i.e., movement), pranayama (i.e., breathing exercises) and/or guided relaxations, identified for your specific symptoms as well as continue to learn more about you, your health and your needs. The yoga therapist will make modifications and adjustments throughout the session and make notes as needed.

3. Follow Up Sessions
Your yoga therapist will take information from your first two sessions and recommend a treatment plan combining yoga therapy, Thai massage and enzyme nutrition with the goal of helping you get back in balance. If requested, you'll also receive a customized home practice plan. You'll work together to ensure that the treatment plan works for you. Depending on your needs, you may get a recommendation for monthly, bi-monthly or weekly follow ups. Every time you meet, you'll continue to work together to make small changes to your lifestyle that will help you get back to balance as well as add or subtract various yoga practices from your treatment plan. Everything is customized, so sessions will vary depending on your needs.

For example, a client with spinal stenosis might have a treatment plan focused on making space in the vertebral column and strengthening the abdominals. But during intial sessions, the yoga therapist may see that balance is an issue and the feet and legs are not working as they should and that could be why the back has overworked. Follow up sessions would include balance poses and specific work on the feet in addition to the back and hips.

Another client might come in chronic pain and after trying traditional treatments, pain meds and even other holistic methods, she doesn't know where to turn. Structural manipulation like a Thai massage may only temporarily relieve the pain, but when guided through a meditation to get in touch with the pain, an emotional connection appears. Then, sessions are focused more on that mind-body connection and the emotional source of the pain.

Someone else may be experiencing anxiety and depression, so each session may be focused more on breathing exercises than movement. In fact, I spend a lot of time watching people breathe and there is power in the breath alone.

Your yoga therapist will help guide you in discovering the subtle, yet deeply rooted underlying causes of pain and suffering. However, even with guidance and a customized plan, there is a power in your ability to sustain your practice in order to receive its benefits. 

When dressing for a yoga therapy session, wear loose fitting clothing that you can move in and layers. When you are completely relaxed, you can get cold. 

We suggest an introductory package of 3 sessions to get the most out of your yoga therapy experience. Contact Alyssa today to schedule your initial consultation and get on the path back to wholeness.

Alyssa Pfennig