What is Yoga Therapy?

Yoga therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being using the teachings and practices of yoga. It is a very tailored approach, either for an individual, or for a group that has a common condition or concern. Yoga therapy focuses on integration and optimal functioning of the client’s body, mind and spirit. Therapeutic yoga focuses on healing, not curing. Yoga therapy probably does not cure cancer, for example. However, it can be used to improve quality of life by positively influencing sleep, pain management, fatigue, stress, and mental outlook.

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THE ROLE OF THE YOGA THERAPIST

The yoga therapist’s role is to guide clients in their process of self-discovery and healing. Rather than offering a diagnosis and treatment for a specific condition, the yoga therapist creates a safe learning environment where the client can experiment, explore, and become empowered. Yoga therapists have training beyond that of a yoga teacher, often with emphasis on how the extensive tools of yoga, including postures, breathing, meditation, and philosophy can be brought to bear on specific physical and psycho-emotional issues. Our clients come to us with a variety of conditions–osteoarthritis, scoliosis, fibromyalgia, and anxiety, to name a few.

WHAT IS A THERAPEUTIC YOGA SESSION LIKE?

You will usually complete an intake form or have a conversation with the yoga therapist so that they can understand your goals and needs. During the session you may try a broad range of yoga practices, including movement, breathing, mudras, affirmations/mantras, meditation, chanting, Yoga Nidra, or study of specific aspects of yoga philosophy.  Often you have homework that you and the yoga therapist agree on so that you derive maximum benefit from the session. The goal of yoga therapy is not to have you come to sessions every week forever. It is to teach you how to use practices that more directly benefit you so that you can do them on your own.

WOULD I BENEFIT FROM YOGA THERAPY?

We are pretty sure that most people would benefit from individualized therapeutic yoga. With that said, if you have a condition that is significantly influenced by stress, we think you should consider yoga therapy. Therapeutic yoga is effective for many musculo-skeletal conditions, particularly if you are no longer doing physical therapy and want safe, targeted practices for your condition. Therapeutic yoga can help manage stress, anxiety, and depression. These are just a few examples of the clients we most often see. Feel free to contact us to have a more in-depth discussion of your specific situation.

“Yoga therapy gave me the opportunity to dive deeper not only into my yoga practice but into my psyche as well. I learned about my body’s natural response to stress and what I can do in those moments to calm myself down. I always left feeling deeply relaxed and capable of anything. Yoga therapy helped me learn how to actually breathe.  To this day, I still use techniques I learned in my sessions.” – A.S.

We also really like this article by preeminent American yoga therapist Gary Kraftsow on the distinction between a yoga class and a yoga therapy session.

Practioners

Please note: The yoga therapy components of the instruction of any of the yoga therapists listed on this page are based on their various yoga therapy trainings and experiences and are not derived from their status as RYT® with Yoga Alliance Registry.

Mindy Hanzlik, C-IAYT, E-RYT500 

Mindy began doing yoga in 2001 as a way to better handle stress in her life. As her health and fitness goals expanded, so did her practice of yoga and her understanding of the integral role mindfulness plays in personal transformation. In 2012, Mindy completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training with Suddha Wexler at The Chicago Yoga Center, gave up her job as a change management consultant, and devoted herself to helping students of all shapes and sizes see the transformative potential of yoga.

She has studied Curvy Yoga with Anna Guest-Jelley and HeavyWeight Yoga with Abby Lentz to help her develop a unique teaching style that incorporates pose modification for larger bodies as well as sequencing to encourage self-acceptance and embracing one’s potential. She has also trained in Functional Yoga Therapy with Maria Mendola, Trauma-Informed Yoga Therapy with Genevieve Yellin and Gentle Somatic Yoga with James Knight. Mindy has completed over 500 hours of study in Integrative Yoga Therapy’s Professional Yoga Therapist program. Click here to schedule an intake appointment

Tiffany Ketchmark, RYT-500 

Tiffany began her exploration of Yoga in 2009 as part of a health and wellness challenge at work, and instantly fell in love. After experiencing all the positive changes in her daily practice, she decided to take the next step. This led her to Yoga Now Chicago where she completed her RYT-200 with Amy Beth Treciokas who studied under Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. As her passion for teaching continued to grow, she sought out and completed the 300-hour Foundation of Yoga Therapy training with Inner Peace Yoga Therapy based in Durango, CO.

Tiffany is also a certified Karuna Reiki Practitioner, and is passionate about, and committed to, helping others through this healing energy. Reiki has been a life-changing experience that she is eager to share with those looking to enhance their health and emotional well-being. Tiffany also studies Ayurveda, the sister science of Yoga, and is enrolled in an Ayurvedic Practitioner program with Ananda Ayurveda based in Willowbrook, IL. She offers private and semi-private sessions that incorporate all of the modalities she teaches. For more info or to schedule an intake, go to her website: www.aspiretoilluminate.com

Jane Musgrave, C-IAYT, E-RYT500

Yoga was a way for Jane to deal with a pesky IT band while training for the 2000 Chicago Marathon. She flirted with yoga for the next several years before deciding to make it a permanent relationship. Jane studied Big Yoga and HeavyWeight Yoga in addition to completing a 200-hour teacher training with the Chicago Yoga Center. She has also trained in Chair Yoga with Sherry Zak Morris, Functional Yoga Therapy with Maria Mendola, and Trauma-Informed Yoga Therapy with Genevieve Yellin. She earned an MS in Human Nutrition from Eastern Michigan University, and is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor as well as a Certified Yoga Therapist. Jane completed the 800-hour Professional Yoga Therapist program with  Integrative Yoga Therapy. She has worked with clients with a variety of challenges, including anxiety, back pain, fibromyalgia, insomnia, and osteoporosis. Click to email or to schedule an intake appointment.

Whitney Pasch, C-IAYT, E-RYT500, YACEP 

Whitney is a registered yoga teacher, Certified Yoga Therapist, certified Yoga of the Heart® teacher, and Level 1 Trauma-Informed Yoga Therapist. She has been practicing yoga since 2008 and teaching since 2012, and she completed Inner Peace Yoga Therapy’s 800-hour training in January 2018. 

Whitney was initially drawn to yoga to maintain strength, mobility, and mental clarity while rehabbing from a running injury.  She decided to pursue yoga therapy years later, after a back injury restricted her not only from basic tasks, but from activities that brought her great joy, primarily running and practicing vinyasa yoga. During that time, an anxiety disorder resurfaced, along with persistent sacral pain. Whitney now approaches teaching through a therapeutic lens; she takes into account each student’s abilities, current conditions, and goals. Whitney specializes in helping people with back pain and anxiety/depression, but also sees clients with various conditions including Parkinson’s Disease and cancer. Outside of yoga, her passions include animals (especially cats), spending time at the lakefront, and cheering on the Green Bay Packers. For more info or to schedule an intake, go to her website whitneypaschyoga.com.

Karen Plumley, RYT-500

Karen is an experienced yoga teacher, teaching since 2008, with over 2000 hours of teaching experience. She is currently working on an 800-hour yoga therapy certification through Inner Peace Yoga Therapy. She has specialized training in Yoga for Survivors, teaching yoga to people at any stage of cancer survivorship, and is also a Yoga for Arthritis Level 1 teacher. Her clients may also be living with chronic pain or working through an injury.

Karen teaches gentle, chair, and restorative classes and is available for both group and private sessions. Her classes are non-competitive, meeting the student where they are and holding space for them in their practice. Her classes may include elements of stretching, strength-building, flexibility and agility. There is focus on breath awareness, and may also include breathing exercises, meditation, and visualization. The goal is to leave the session feeling more balanced, both physically and mentally.

COST & OTHER DETAILS

Sessions are held at Marigold Yoga 2054 W. Irving Park Road or at a location arranged by you with the yoga therapist. Prices and meeting times are also individually arranged.