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Frequently asked questions Index
what is yoga therapy?
What Is Yoga Therapy?
Yoga Therapy (also known as Yoga Cikitsa) is being promoted as the wave of the future by many Yoga professionals, and in Yoga-related books and magazines. It is not a new style or branch of Yoga: it is Yoga. Yoga is and always has been a holistic healing discipline that offers a broad range of tools for supporting health, healing and personal transformation. One of the key advantages of a system like yoga is that it views the human system as a holistic entity that is made up different dimensions (physical body, breath, mind, personality traits, and emotions) that are mutually dependent on and mutually influence one another.
Though yoga is today associated mostly with postures, it is just one of the many tools that yoga has to offer. Some of the most profound tools that yoga offers include: conscious breath regulation, meditative practices, visualizations, use of vocal sounds, life style changes and dietary recommendations among many others. This makes the healing process very comprehensive and extremely specific to the individual.
The other key advantage of yoga is that it empowers people in the healing process. Rather, than being a passive recipient of treatment, the student is actively engaged in the path to well-being and is primarily responsible for their recovery. The role of the teacher is that of guide, directing the student to tools for recovery and teaching the right way to implement these tools. Once this is done, it is then the role of the student to practice it diligently, observe changes, and notify the teacher for any changes. Thus the healing comes from within the student, rather than from the outside. This powerful system has helped many thousands of students who have sought yoga as the solution to their problems.
This great art was perfected and presented by T Krishnamacharya, one of the most important yogis of our modern times. He healed and revived many people from all kinds of problems through this holistic, yet simple approach.
What Is The Best Yoga For Me?
What Is The Best Yoga For Me?
Function Over Form
Yoga is taught in three basic contexts: the context of a group class (these vary from the very general to classes with a specific goal or designated for a specific group of people), private instruction for developing a personal practice, or Yoga Therapy. The goals of each category of class (group, private, and therapeutic) vary. However, a principle that holds true for each of them is that when applying the tools of Yoga, function is more important than form. In other words, as teachers, it is our responsibility to adapt the tool to suit the needs and abilities of the student, so that he or she may get the desired benefit from it. Typically, improvement in “form” will come with time and effort. Improvement does not imply that a perfect forward bend or perfect chanting pitch will be achieved for certain, but perfection is not the goal: improvement in the student’s health and sense of well-being is.
Group Yoga Classes
Group classes are for personal maintenance, self-education, and general well being. They also provide students with a positive and enjoyable experience of community. The teacher makes every effort to honour each student’s abilities and needs, however, group classes, by their nature, work at a “common” level, as they need to address a broader range of criteria to keep everyone safe.Not every group class is for every student. In keeping with the principle of viniyoga (proper and continuous application of the tools of yoga), we should choose a class pertinent to our needs, goals, and stage of life. For example, a pregnant woman will switch from her usual “energizing” practice, which can be quite vigorous, to a prenatal class to support her throughout her pregnancy. An athlete training for a competitive event might choose a vigorous, strengthening class that assists in developing stamina, as well as a meditative class to enhance mental focus.
Private Yoga Sessions
As a student progresses further along in their practice, it becomes clear that group classes are useful only to a certain degree. We begin to understand that each of us has a unique physiology, skeletal- muscular structure, mental patterns, energy level, etc. To heal these areas of the body and mind a very specific Yoga program should be followed on a daily basis. This is when we look to our teacher for one-on-one instruction – the ideal and traditional form of Yoga instruction. The student consults with their teacher regularly and practices daily on their own using a practice designed for them by their teacher. Also, the student provides the teacher with feedback so that the practice can be refined, as needed. In this way, Yoga becomes a personal journey, and the student develops the skills to observe the subtle changes that occur in his or her own system.
Like private instruction, Yoga Therapy is offered on a one-to-one basis. In this case, the teacher adapts the tools of Yoga to help heal the student of a specific problem. Where general Yoga keeps us on the steady path of wellness and regular practice provides the equanimity to cope with the stresses and various stages of life, Yoga Therapy specifically targets the root cause of affliction. Or, where this is not possible, as with HIV for instance, the goal of Yoga Therapy is to heal by appeasing the symptoms, positively enhance quality of life and thereby reducing suffering. Because it is not chemical, Yoga Therapy is a complement to other systems of treatment.
An Individual Process
To make healing effective and potent, we must understand and interact with students individually, rather than prescribe practices in groups, though some exceptional situations may even allow that. When we interact with students privately we can understand their individual illnesses, their causes and what are the individual abilities of the student, which can help us design practices that will be the perfect fit for them. Can a doctor prescribe the same pill to patients irrespective of their complaint? Similarly a yoga therapist has to interact with the student privately to guide them in their healing. Otherwise it will not be an effective process.
A Self-Empowering Process
A powerful component of the healing process in yoga is that it empowers the student to heal themselves. Unlike surgery, where a surgeon operates on a passive and often unconscious patient; or massage therapy, where the therapist works on a patient – in yoga the student has an active and often complete responsibility in the healing process. The Yoga Therapist’s role is limited to one of understanding the student’s illness, and teaching appropriate practices that the student will have to do on their own. An important job is also to review and verify the appropriateness of the practice.Since much of the healing happens due to the regular practice by the student, a key responsibility of the Yoga Therapist is to inspire and motivate them to maintain the practice. This is often the key to the success of a good healing process.
What Does Yoga Therapy Toronto Offer?
What Does Yoga Therapy Toronto Offer?
Private, one-on-one Yoga instruction tailored to each student’s specific needs, capabilities, goals, and life circumstances.
Group drop-in classes are for personal maintenance, self-education, and overall general well being. They also provide students an opportunity to find one’s own experience while being led in a conscious manner. Another benefit is the ability to practice in a communal setting.
Yoga Outreach Program
With our Outreach Program we partner with our teacher graduates and facilities and organizations to provide free yoga to under-served adults & youth in a diverse range of settings, including: recovery centres, shelters, healthcare facilities, correctional institutions, public schools, youth at risk programs and more.
Yoga Teacher Training
We offer a comprehensive and extensive 300+ hour Yoga Teacher Training Program that is rooted in the holistic tradition of Yoga, yet also offers valuable modern teachings from western therapy and psychology.
Yoga Therapist Training
We offer a 1,000+ hour Yoga Therapist Training, of which 800 hours is accredited by IAYT.
Upon graduation, students are eligible to apply to become a C-IAYT (which means they are an IAYT Certified Yoga Therapist).
Workshops & Pre-Registered Courses
All throughout the year Yoga Therapy Toronto offers ongoing Workshops & Pre-Registered courses where we will help guide you to a deeper understanding and experience of your practice.
Yoga Retreat to India
Periodically, Yoga Therapy Toronto will take a group of students and teacher trainees to experience a Yoga & Meditation Retreat in India, where we will immerse ourselves in the study and practice of Yoga & Meditation.
We gather as a community to explore the practice of Yoga through subtler aspects such as Pranayama (conscious breathing), and Meditation.
… and more.
Why Is A Yoga Teacher's Lineage So Important?
Why Is A Yoga Teacher’s Lineage So Important?
Yoga Therapy Toronto is modeled after the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram (KYM), a successful Yoga Therapy Clinic, Yoga School, and Centre for Yoga-related research and educational programs in Chennai, India.
TKV Desikachar founded the KYM as a public, non-profitable charitable trust in 1976, in honor of his father and teacher, the renowned Yoga master, T Krishnamacharya. The KYM is dedicated to making the benefits of Krishnamacharya’s Yoga methodology and teachings available to everyone, regardless of gender, race, religion, and nationality. Today, it is considered one of the most important centres for the study of Yoga in the world.
This lineage structure is a reflection of the heart of Yoga – relationship. The Yoga we practice today is a gift we received from thousands of men and women we will never know – the gift of a complete, holistic healing system.
Relationship also defines the way you learn Yoga – as a student. To be a student implies that you have a relationship with a teacher and the teachings.Neither role exists without the other. If you are a student and teacher of Yoga, then you are part of a lineage, just as Krishnamacharya or any of the great masters: a chain of unbroken relationships stretching backwards and forwards, into the past and into the future and infusing the present. This is part of the beauty and also the responsibility of practicing Yoga.
What Are The Benefits Of Yoga Therapy?
What Are The Benefits Of Yoga Therapy?
Since the practice of Yoga is modified to suit the individual, the person does not need to meet any requirements of fitness, age, or health in order to start a Yoga program. Almost everyone would benefit from Yoga regardless of his or her medical condition.
What makes Yoga so beneficial is its ability to affect all levels of the human system. By practicing Yoga the student not only feels better, but also gains a way to actively participate in the care of his or her own health. Common benefits experienced by many students include, improvement in quality of sleep, elimination of pain, and reduction in stress. Medically speaking, we are instructing our students on how to support the functioning of their parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn supports homeostasis and healing.
Benefits of practicing Yoga may include, but are not limited to:
Quality of Life
Improve quality of sleep
Improve quality of relationships
Assist with weight loss
Promote healthy food habits (less emphasis on sugar, caffeine)
Promote healthy life habits (decrease craving for alcohol, smoking)
Increase ease of breathing
Improve ease of movement
Improve joint mobility
Decrease risk of falls
Improve spine / joint stability
Increase strength and flexibility
Increase circulation (especially peripheral)
Increase distal sensation
Increase amount of O2 in blood
Regulate heart rate
Regulate blood pressure
Regulate respiratory rate
Increase emotional stability
Reduce panic attacks and anxiety
Increase level of alertness and sharpness of mind
Acceptance of limitations
Reducing pain and discomfort, overcoming physical or emotional trauma, and recovering from illness, injury, addiction, or other health concerns.
Maintaining current health and well being, preventing illness or injury, and increasing flexibility and strength including preparing for, or complementing an existing health maintenance or fitness program.
Reducing stress, overcoming depression, anxiety, and psychological trauma, and helping to manage and deal with life-threatening illness.
Personal and/or spiritual growth. In the case of spiritual growth, we feel it is important to note that the course followed would be initiated by the student’s own interest and complimentary to the student’s personal spiritual practices, beliefs, and preferences.
Is Yoga A Religion?
Is Yoga A Religion?
No. This confusion arose in our culture because Yoga evolved over thousands of years in the context of the spiritual and religious traditions of India. The practices of Yoga were appropriated into most of the different religious traditions of the East. When these teachings were first transmitted in the West, they were often taught by teachers who were also practicing one of the many forms of Hinduism, Sikhism, or Buddhism. The pure teachings of Yoga were therefore often mixed with the cultural and religious associations of the particular teacher.
Although the practices of Yoga were appropriated by these religious traditions, most of them dismissed Yoga as a secular science. Yoga is actually more correctly understood as a science of mind oriented towards understanding the mind/body relationship. Indeed we can see that many similar practices evolved and were appropriated into the religious traditions of the West. The pure teachings of Yoga have no theological orientation. The practices of Yoga when correctly taught will help anyone of any religious tradition deepen their own faith – it is often said that the practice of Yoga can make a Catholic a better Catholic, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Buddhist a better Buddhist, etc. That is why we find practicing Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, and Non-Theists among the countless Yoga enthusiasts around the world.