What is Yoga Therapy?
The mission of yoga therapy is to adapt the practices of yoga to an individual’s health needs. Yoga therapy is designed to help empower the individual to progress toward greater health and well-being.
Yoga therapy integrates 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.
In yoga therapy, an individual meets with a yoga therapist with experience in designing a customized yoga practice for individuals with one or more health challenges that includes such things as yoga postures, meditation and breathing techniques to suit an individual’s desired needs. Each session is designed based on the individual’s abilities, goals and needs to help progress toward improved health and well-being.
According to the International Association of Yoga Therapists, “Yoga therapy is the professional application of the principles and practices of yoga to promote health and well-being within a therapeutic relationship that includes personalized assessment, goal setting, lifestyle management, and yoga practices for individuals or small groups.”
For more information, we recommend that you visit the International Association of Yoga Therapists’ website.
How Does Yoga Fit into the Plum Spring Clinic Approach for Functional Medicine?
Yoga therapy is designed to help empower individuals to progress toward greater health and well-being. An individual meets with a yoga therapist with experience in designing a customized yoga practice for individuals with one or more health challenges that includes yoga postures, meditation and breathing techniques. Each session is designed based on the individual’s abilities, goals, and needs to help progress toward improved health and well-being. Yoga helps participants find their calm state, which is especially helpful for stress resilience and understanding the trauma held inward that is causing illness. Participants can experience a reconnection between the body and mind, which frequently become disconnected when under negative stress. Yoga fits into the functional medicine approach of working with and nurturing the whole body through the connectedness. Living in the moment during a yoga session, known as mindfulness, helps reduce negative stress.
Benefits of Yoga Therapy
In yoga therapy, an individual meets with a yoga therapist with experience in designing a customized yoga practice for individuals with one or more health challenges that includes such things as yoga postures, meditation and breathing techniques to suit an individual’s desired needs.
In yoga therapy, the individual client’s needs are the focus rather than teaching yoga methodology. The yoga therapist, through the use of their trained skills, develops a plan with the client and the yoga session or sessions unfold from there. The yoga therapist understands why the client has come for the yoga therapy session and together with the client, a plan is developed to support the client’s needs.
No previous yoga experience is required. The individual learns to explore the connections between the mind and body, and may realize benefits in breathing, flexibility, balance, strength, and the ability to manage life circumstances.
Yoga therapy is done on a one-to-one basis or in a small group of individuals with like conditions and needs. Yoga techniques are used to support the individual’s improved awareness to promote less reactivity and obtain tools to support relief of symptoms and/or to improve one’s function in the activities of daily living.
Examples of conditions that benefit from yoga therapy:
- Chronic pain
- Decreased functional movement
- Heart conditions
- Joint Replacement
- Sleep problems
About SAM Sather, MS, BSN, e-RYT, C-IAYT, C-IYSI
Sandra “S.A.M.” Sather is a Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT). She is also an experienced registered yoga instructor (eRYT) with many other certifications and trainings, for example Certified Integrative Yoga for Seniors (C-IYSI), Functional Movement, Mindfulness, Yoga for Cancer, Vinyasa Flow Yoga, and Yin Yoga. SAM is a fascia enthusiast related to movement therapy for improvements in posture, chronic pain, and prevention of injury.
SAM has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1983 and later obtained her Master of Science in Education in 2007. Out of nursing school, SAM moved from New York state to North Carolina. Soon after arriving in NC, she co-owned a local gym where SAM provided personal training to a variety of populations including seniors, athletes, to individuals living with disabilities. This was the start of combining nursing and wellness together to serve others. SAM changed her nursing focus to clinical research in the mid-1990s and in 2002 opened her second business with her partner Chuck called Clinical Pathways, a small clinical consulting firm that works with companies developing new therapies to treat disease through western medicine. Meanwhile, she shifted her wellness focus to Yoga in the 1990s. SAM opened her home studio, Dogwood Yoga Studio in 2017 to serve individuals and small groups in Yoga Therapy.
SAM’s long-term goal is to integrate her eastern and western modalities to help others by applying her skills in managing clinical trials toward organizing formal studies of natural therapies to prevent or mitigate disease.
SAM and her partner Chuck live in Chapel Hill, NC, USA. She has two delightful grown children, Rob & Sarah.
“SAM is an inspiration to us all in her teaching of mindful movement, yoga therapy and meditation practices. She draws from her own medical background and training to provide her students the knowledge of how to stay healthy and address one’s own unique physical challenges. In experiencing several shoulder and back injuries, the time with SAM in private practice as well as small group sessions has enabled me to recover more quickly from injuries and even prevent them going forward. Her approach to yoga is a functional one where she assists each of us in developing a yoga practice to address one’s own unique needs. She’s regularly in training with top leaders in the health industry and does a wonderful job of incorporating what she learns into what she brings into the classroom. We’re grateful for SAM’s presence in our lives!”
– Yoga Participant
Private therapeutic yoga sessions based on your goals and well-being history, offered in person with social distancing and cleaning protocols or live online sessions are offered.