MY WIN Physical Therapy

What’s the difference between yoga and physical therapy yoga?

Most people think of NEEDING physical therapy only when they are injured, in pain or prescribed by a doctor…

However, most people would benefit from the physical therapy prescribed exercises, stretches and mobility drills regardless of their pain levels or athleticism. 

Most forms of exercise and yoga classes elicit activation of larger muscle groups without attention or focus on form, posture or even proper muscle activation. Physical therapy exercises are designed to promote the best quality of intended muscle activation to support the joints and improve pain levels. This usually means, smaller motion, but BIG FEELING. This also can mean less exercise to get the intended benefits you are looking for! 

The biggest difference between a yoga instructor and a physical therapist is that physical therapists are highly skilled and trained in the exact anatomy of the body, how it moves, how it works, how the muscles, tissues, ligaments and organs interact to work and hold a load, to contract, to relax and to elicit and intended response in the body. We have a doctoral level of education and degree in science, coupled with years of clinical experience in treating the body and gauging responses that all stems from evidence based research science.

Yoga instructors are typically only trained in how to teach yoga, and most yoga training minimally if at all incorporates anatomy and physiology education. They are trained in cues to provide for each typical pose, and many of these cues have been regurgitated over time and don’t even actually make sense in how our bodies work or muscles are meant to activate. 

They rarely focus on counteracting the typical movements and postures we find ourselves in during the day that physical therapy yoga specifically focuses  on to help find BALANCE IN THE BODY.


Physical therapy yoga incorporates these physical therapy type exercises and principles of posture, deep core activation, joint mobility and proper muscle activation into a class or movement sequence. It is meant to specifically prepare the body for the intended work load, increasing in intensity, resistance or challenge in the body from more simple to more dynamic movements as the class progresses and as our bodies tend to heat up biomechanically. 

Many typical yoga classes will start from standing, doing lots of forward bending, hamstring stretching and hanging motions, and then at the end of class throw a high bridge or wheel in the mix, as if your body is anywhere prepared for this massive spinal extension. 

On the contrary, a physical therapy yoga class that potentially included a wheel at the end, would work the body up until that point in progressively opening the chest, shoulders, hips and back and activating our posterior chain muscles so a wheel pose would become attainable safely. 

Physical therapy based yoga focuses on injury prevention.

We want our bodies to feel good for the long haul and continue moving and tying our shoes well into our later years. So finding a movement practice that is supportive and not destructive to the body is so important!

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