Yoga therapy is a new term for me. I have taken yoga classes on and off for many years but thought of it more as a form of exercise. As I have had chronic low back problems for years, I considered yoga as a possible tool for relieving and possibly preventing relapses. It has been only in the past few years, following reading a book on yoga therapy, by Dr. Tim MaCall, that I became aware of the difference between yoga therapy and yoga classes. After reading his book, Yoga As Medicine, a tracked down a highly qualified yoga teacher of the Ilyengar style ( there are numerous yoga approaches) who was also qualified to do yoga therapy. It has been helping my back. In addition, I have become very interested in the possibilities of how yoga therapy might be useful in my work with the clients I see in my capacity as a psychologist in private practice in Boca Raton, Florida.
In Yoga as Medicine, there are chapters on yoga’s application to anxiety and depression, case studies and references to controlled research seeming to document significant improvements in patients who incorporate yoga therapy in their overall mental health program.
Over the years, I have incorporated the principles and practices I have learned in my yoga therapy with the cognitive therapy and other treatment methods I offer to my clients. Breathing, brief mediation, being in the present, awareness without judgment and the classic yoga poses ( asanas) are a part of what I try to incorporate in my own practice and the work I do with many of my own psychotherapy clients.
Overall, yoga therapy, appears to be very beneficial as well as compatible with the cognitive therapy approach that I practice. As I continue to evolve as a yoga student and cognitive behavior therapist (38 years and counting), I look forward to adding new and effective tools to my professional tool kit.