Yoga Therapy uses tools that you would find in many yoga classes; postures, working with the breath, meditation, awareness of the body and mind, relaxation, and these are directed to the needs and ability of the person concerned.
The formal definition of yoga therapy from the International Association of Yoga Therapists is:
Yoga therapy is the professional application of the principles and practices of yoga to promote health and well-bring within a therapeutic relationship that includes personalised assessment, goal setting, lifestyle management, and yoga practices for individuals or small groups.
The aim of Yoga Therapy is to promote good health for the person as a whole - the emphasis of this work may be towards the body, the mind, the emotions or a combination of these.
A health problem may be primarily in one of these aspects, for example, back pain caused by poor posture. Yoga therapy would then focus on working with the body using yoga postures. If the back pain is exacerbated by stress, then including yoga to help calm the mind, for example breathing techniques, will be very useful too.
Our health is a dynamic combination of body and mind. Long term physical conditions are commonly associated with depression and a variety of feelings - sadness, loss, frustration, anger. Our emotional health affects our physical health too, although this is difficult to quantify.
Yoga can bring us awareness of the body and mind; and more understanding of how to help the body, emotions or patterns of thinking and provides a practical approach to developing a positive state of health.