Shouldn't All Yoga Be Therapeutic?

Jan 24, 2019

Certainly, yes. The holistic vision of yoga sees the human being as a composite of physical and subtle energies. Though there are various models of who and what we are according to yogic philosophy, they all describe the individual as an integrated whole. A whole that is made up of interpenetrating layers and energies that include body, breath, mind, emotions, and spirit. 

Yoga offers practices that address, nourish, and harmonize each of these component parts of ourselves to foster equilibrium, integration and connectivity. 

Done from this perspective, how could these practices NOT lead to a greater and deep-seated sense of well-being and integration?


Isn’t it reasonable to assume that in order to call what we practice or teach “yoga,” to consider anything we do as being “yoga,” it must carry the intention of supporting true health? I believe so. 

I consider myself neither a yoga therapist, nor a healer. I’m a teacher. 

In the alignment-based approach to asana that I teach I often work with students who are in pain, or are experiencing physical, mental or emotional imbalances, and wish to use yoga as a tool to gain freedom from their pain or promote greater balance. 

As my colleague Lisa Paterson says, "in the end, whatever we call ourselves, it is that willingness to accompany a person and listen and experiment that I think creates the space for healing." 

Here’s the way I approach this work:

I do NOT:
👉🏼 Diagnose
👉🏼 Seek to cure
👉🏼 Assume I have the remedy
👉🏼 Impose or insist upon anything

👉🏼 Observe
👉🏼 Ask a ton of questions
👉🏼 Listen
👉🏼 Share my experience and knowledge
👉🏼 Help students re-pattern movements that might have caused injury or be keeping them in pain
👉🏼 Try things out
👉🏼 Remain open to adapt and change what I think I know
👉🏼 Require a co-participation with the student

I’ll be at PranaShanti Yoga Centre in Ottawa next weekend to offer a 20-hour training in the approach to supporting holistic health with alignment-based yoga that I’ve been practicing and sharing for more than 20 years. 

We’ll explore and apply principles of optimal and healthy bio-mechanical alignment to create healthy, sustainable, and functional patterns of physical movement as well as energetic flow to support health and well-being. 

The aim is to equip teachers with the knowledge and skills to guide your students to discover the alignment that allows strength and freedom from energetic stagnation, alongside functional range of motion for their body and life needs. 

You’ll leave with a toolbox full of postures, practices, approaches, adaptations and modification to serve your students more fully. And a 75-page manual.:)

If this approach to serving your students resonates with you, there’s still space available. I’d love to have you join us.

Alignment-based Yoga for Holistic Health with Barrie Risman…/300-hour-teacher-training-schedule/

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions.


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