Yoga

Yamas and Niyamas Applied in Yoga Therapy – A Short Excerpt (part 1)

The philosophy and ethic codes and guidelines of practicing yoga are described within the yamas and niyamas. The yamas describe how to behave with yourself and others and are sectionalized in five different compartments: Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, and Aparigraha.

Ahimsa, is the practice of nonviolence in thought, word or deed. This is one of the key components to having a therapeutic relationship, not harming the patient, the practice of therapy, or the community involved. In my current practice, I have slowed down my yoga sequencing to allow for transitions and the body to properly warm up. Although I still practice Ashtanga, I now practice it at a slower pace to prevent injury to my body or creating disturbances in the mind. One way to practice ahimsa in a professional setting of therapy is to communicate with the patient that they may stop the sessions at any time, and for any reason. Something I have seen in yoga classes before is the teacher pushing the student to an uncomfortable range of motion for their asana. A way to practice ahimsa within the professional yoga therapy community is to relate accurate information about yoga therapy. One example of this to not harm the patient/student is to not make sweeping statements that are misleading such as “any yoga class I teach is therapeutic”. Using this principle of ahimsa we can help the client create a more loving relationship with themselves.


This can also relate to Satya, the commitment to telling the truth, at all times. With my future clients and/or patients, the commitment to the truth with play in transparency of the yoga therapy practice. One example is to not mislead the client by telling them that a certain set of asanas, pranayama, meditation, or other form of yoga will be the cure to their ailment. Another way to promote the healthy effects of yoga therapy is to inform the client of the possibilities but remain open and honest with telling them that these practices may or may not solve their issue and that we are here to find out, together. Within the professional community, practicing satya can be in the form of displaying qualifications.

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