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What is Therapeutic Yoga? A Q&A with Ottawa’s Jessica Keats

Photo of Jessica Keats

This blog has brought so many people into my life. Jessica Keats is a great example of this. After reading this article in Capital Parent, she emailed me and asked if I would be interested in learning about–and trying–therapeutic yoga.

I don’t currently see a massage- or physio-therapist on a regular basis, but I’ve certainly had my fair share of visits over the years. Despite finding these forms of therapy extremely helpful, I’ve never actually been able to fully resolve an old issue that resulted from a car accident in my early 20s. If I do any kind of strenuous exercise (or sometimes just sleeping the wrong way), I end up with nagging neck pain, which is almost always accompanied by headaches. It’s not a big deal. People deal with way worse, of course. But when Jessica mentioned “therapeutic” yoga, I thought “why not?”

But first, I had to ask: What is therapeutic yoga? Here, Jessica shares a bit more about this ancient practice which is now gaining ground here in North America.

Julie: What exactly is therapeutic yoga? How do you explain it to a stranger in an elevator?

Jessica: Therapeutic Yoga uses movements, breathing techniques and the philosophy of Yoga to help individuals heal.

Julie: What was it about therapeutic yoga, as opposed to regular yoga, that interested you?        

Jessica: Yoga has been used with therapeutic intention for a long time. It makes sense as no two bodies are alike. I love being able to focus on one person; their needs and their goals. One-on-one attention helps people progress faster so they can get back to living the life they want to live. I am very blessed to be able to do the work I do. 

Julie: How does someone become trained in therapeutic yoga?

Jessica: This is a tricky question to answer as Yoga Therapy Programs are currently undergoing accreditation changes which will put the program at 800 hours as per IAYT (International Association of Yoga Therapists).

One must first be trained as a 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher. The school I am training with is Functional Synergy based out Calgary Alberta, which will be offering a two year certification program as per the new guidelines of 800 hours.

I am a 200 E-RYT, which means that I have completed a 200-hour program and have since taught over well over 1,000 hours of yoga as of January 2013. I have also completed over 100 hrs of yoga therapy prerequisites to prepare to enter the two-year Yoga Therapy Certification program.

Julie: How long have you been offering therapeutic yoga sessions? 

Jessica: I began offering private therapeutic yoga sessions in May of 2012.

Julie: What tends to draw people to therapeutic yoga? 

Jessica: Usually people are drawn to therapeutic yoga because they have already tried everything that they can think of and it hasn’t worked to resolve their situation. They do not accept that they are getting old or they just have to live this way. They are not willing to give up doing the things they love and living the life they want to live.

Julie: What kind of results do your clients experience? 

Jessica: So far, clients have experienced:

  • reduction and, in most cases, an elimination of pain
  • reduced tension/tightness
  • better function
  • improved balance
  • increased stability
  • reduction of anxiety
  • improved breathing
  • mental clarity

Julie: In your experience, what are the key benefits of undertaking therapeutic yoga sessions?

Jessica: The key benefit is that your yoga therapist is only focused on you and your overall well being.

I plan on taking up Jessica on her offer to experience therapeutic yoga once my work schedule calms down a little. In the meantime, you can check out Jessica’s website at Now tell me: had you heard of therapeutic yoga before now? Ever tried it? 


  1. Thanks for an interesting article, Julie.

    I was yoga “resistant” for many years until I finally sorted through the different styles and found one that works well for me. I can see how therapeutic yoga, with its one-on-one attention, could be very beneficial.

    Looking forward to seeing how your session goes!

    • Which style did you end up settling on? I tried hot yoga at a local studio and loved the sweaty factor.

      • I’ve been doing Hatha Yoga for four years now, Julie. Lots of stretching, strengthening & stress-relief. It’s also taught me to be more mindful, something I thought I would never accomplish with my buzzing mind .

        I can see the appeal of Hot Yoga but since I’m at the point in my life where I find myself saying “is it hot in here” with increasing frequency I need something cooler :)

  2. I have never heard of this! I have knee pain which is fairly persistent (better than worse than better again) and I am not too keen on quitting my activities but physio and massage haven’t given me the tools to really fix the problem. I wonder if this could!?!?!

    • Knee pain – yuck. I know my brother has had a bad run with knee pain and just had ACL surgery. I will ask Jessica to come back here and share her thoughts on knees and yoga.

    • Hi Chantal,
      Sorry to hear about your persistent knee pain. Yoga Therapy would be a great fit for you. Therapeutic Yoga techniques would be used to help relieve the pain while taking a wider look at how your body is moving as a whole in relation to your knees. If you would like to try Yoga Therapy please contact me at

  3. this is very interesting to me… thanks for the info!

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