About This Book

By Mark Stephens on Wed, 02/15/2017 - 12:07
Excerpted from the "Preface" to Yoga Therapy: Foundations, Methods, and Practices (712 pages, forthcoming November 2017, North Atlantic Books/Penguin Random House)
Many people come to yoga classes with acute or chronic conditions of compromised health, or ordinary conditions such as pregnancy, that indicate the value of a specialized or adapted practice. In any given large yoga class there are usually students who have at least some minor ache or condition that suggests modification of postural and breathing practices. What are those modifications? How might you best communicate with, assess, and guide students with any one (or more) of a number of different conditions? How can yoga be part of healing? How can it support a feeling of wholeness and greater vibrancy in one’s life? How can you go further in offering yoga as a therapeutic tool – yoga chikitsa – as a yoga therapist working with private clients?
These are a few of the motivating questions at the heart of this book. In order to most fully explore them, we will look deeply into the ancient wisdom, modern practices, and most contemporary insights of yoga and related disciplines available today.  One of the challenges we have in sorting through the libraries, compendiums, and other sources of transmitted knowledge is that much of the source material arrives through approaches that contradict each other. At the broadest level, we must appreciate the fundamentally different approaches of evidence-based scientific medicine and divinely-inspired, intuited, or otherwise received insights of yoga and Ayurveda. Although we see considerable progress in their integration, for some practitioners these approaches will always be mutually exclusive, each rejecting the other as fundamentally flawed in its basic assumptions and methods. Here we will look to unravel some of these tensions to distill methods that make practical sense in teaching yoga therapeutically and offering services as a yoga therapist…