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Yoga has shrugged off its reputation of being all about general well being to becoming the trending therapeutic tool for treating injuries and curing ailments. However, this has led to a  crop of practitioners and centres mushrooming in the city, bringing us to the question, how does one choose a yoga therapist? While you need to do your research and sign up for a trial class before signing up, Lara Abiesheikh, the founder of the Vinieyoga Healing Centre in Besant Nagar, says the key is finding a person who understands that a one-size-fits-all policy doesn’t work. “No two people have the same body alignment. They are physically and psychologically different. So even if they share an ailment, they cannot be prescribed the same treatment,” says the 40-year-old who travels the world, taking classes on yoga therapy.

YOGAFunction over form
An experienced teacher always studies your body, says Abiesheikh, and takes factors like lifestyle, food habits, complaints (bad sleep patterns or digestion), and the time you have to invest, into consideration. “This helps customise each class. Even in a group session, the teacher must be aware of your issues and must modify asanas for you,” he says. Another red flag: teachers who believe in the ‘pain is gain’ philosophy. According to Usha Venkatramani, a senior teacher at the centre, a therapy session should also be about comfort. “You need to first relieve pain before moving on to mobility and strengthening,” she says, adding that Abiesheikh includes thoduvarmam (pain relief) in his treatment.

Finding balance
Performance enhancement is also a part of yoga therapy. Abiesheikh, who has clients across professions—from sportsmen and dancers to IT professionals and farmers—says a teacher has to know the importance of breath. “It is a tool that helps you connect to your mind and a teacher must teach you to be aware of your breath and how to control it,” he says. Finally, there is course planning. Since postures are designed for specific needs, a therapist must design counter postures, to emphasise the positives and to relieve any strain. “If this balance is not achieved, then their course planning is faulty and you will come away with more problems than you went to them with,” he cautions.
Vinieyoga Healing Centre is open from 8 am to 6 pm. Each one-on-one class is Rs.500 and group classes begin from Rs.3,000 a month. The centre also has a teacher training course (250 hours). Details: 24464141

—Surya Praphulla Kumar

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