Although all yoga is potentially therapeutic and healing, yoga therapy is the specific application of yogic tools-postures/exercises, breathwork, meditation techniques, and more-to address an individual's physical, mental, and emotional needs. Many people first learn about yoga through its physical practices, but a common misconception is that the discipline is all about stretching or movement. In fact, yoga therapy can help people who can't move at all, as well as active individuals! The yogic model of health is unique because it addresses every aspect of life rather than considering each body part or system separately.
Yoga therapy is a safe way of working with the natural capacity of your body and mind to optimize well-being. Because yoga itself offers tools that touch on the whole spectrum of human experience, Yoga Therapy can offer support to a range of concerns; pain from various sources, major illnesses, healthy aging, death and dying, neurologic issues and mental health. Yoga therapy can also support people who are dealing with stress, and those who simply want to increase their overall well-being.
A general public yoga class can certainly ease everyday aches, pains, and mood complaints. But a yoga therapy session goes much further because it is completely tailored to the individual. IAYT-certified yoga therapists have in-depth training to help them assess and keep clients safe, and to interact with other healthcare professionals effectively.
Yoga therapy can complement a client's usual healthcare.
Although yoga has been practiced in some form for millennia, we are just beginning to understand these mechanisms from a Western scientific perspective. A tool applied in one area-say, a breathing practice-can profoundly affect a completely different area of the body or the mind. Researchers think this works partly because of yoga's ability to regulate the nervous system and possibly to affect the way the brain processes information. Another reason yoga therapy works so well is that it's not a treatment done to a patient-yoga therapists instead empower clients to tap into their own innate healing capabilities.
Since 2004, Debra, a certified Yoga Therapists and experienced teacher has embraced an integrative approach to health and wellness. She’s owned and operated a full-service, integrative Health & Wellness Center from 2006-2015 and founded NW Yoga & Wellness in Port Townsend, WA in 2015. Over the years, Debra's approach toward helping others has remained the same, to make health and wellness accessible for all. To do that she aligns herself with a team of professionals, in various disciplines, that assist her and her clients and students achieve their goals. With over 10,000 hours in training and teaching, Debra offers a customized, transformational and experiential approach in her classes, privates and training's. She specializes in Alignment-based and Therapeutic Yoga, with an emphasis on detail, precision, structural alignment and anatomical principles for a safe and sustainable practice in the performance of postures (asanas) and breath control (pranayama). Each student is encouraged to explore and own their ongoing journey toward their optimal health.
Debra is a certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) through International Association of Yoga Therapists and registered at the E-RYT 500 level with Yoga Alliance. NW Yoga & Wellness is a registered Yoga School (RYS) and Continuing Education Provider (YACEP) through Yoga Alliance. As a teacher of teachers, Debra developed a RYT 200-hour Advance Training program and other courses that qualify as continuing education hours for experienced practitioners and Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT's).
Debra has had many teachers over the years, but when you ask her who her most influential ones are, she always says it’s her students and that she is honored to have the opportunity to learn from them daily.
To meet with Debra, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the first yoga class I have taken where I have not aggravated my back issues and have greatly improved my understanding of where my body is in space. I now know how to move with better mechanics so I do not injure myself and this has flowed into my day to day life. Thank you!!
Lee Feetham October 2019
I came to Debra quite anxious about taking up yoga again after I found out that I would need total knee replacement surgery "soon." I was afraid I would make things worse or that my knee would get in the way of a "real" practice. I was also afraid I would get hurt in class. What I found instead was a compassionate, expert teacher who worked with me to get in the best shape I could be prior to surgery. The muscles that were cramped and shortened because of my compensatory gait have stretched out. I'm no longer afraid to move my body. The most important things I have learned at NW Yoga & Wellness are that I can trust Debra to help me, and that because of her approach to modifying the postures to the student rather than forcing us/me to do a specific posture in a specific way, I believe that anyone at any level can benefit by coming to the studio.
Nancy Holder October 2019
I spent many years saying I would NEVER take yoga!!! I am approaching 4 years with Debra and if I miss a class I miss a most important part of my life. She is so astute...when I walk into class she can immediately tell if I am okay or not. Her class has made it possible for me to be more active and have less old age pain. She is fun, down to earth and leads us through a wonderful hour experience.
Karen Crouse July 2019
I am in my seventh decade and extremely overweight and knew yoga was NOT for me. I began in March with a private lesson that was a gift. This private session was instrumental to my continuation and success. Debra Wolfe is extremely well -trained and is aware of every movement of each student in her studio. She encourages, adjusts, and helps everyone - along with a delightful sense of humor. I cannot speak more highly of my experiences in NW Yoga & Wellness. I now attend weekly and shortly will have two classes each week.
Maureen Huff July 2019
I am extremely grateful for Debra Wolfe and her approach to yoga. She is an exceptional teacher and person. She has a thorough understanding of body mechanics and is attentive to each student’s body limitations, alignment and form. Her gentle, clear and hands on approach have helped me make subtle corrections to various poses. I really appreciate this. It is easy to injure yourself in yoga, but this is not an issue at NW Yoga & Wellness.
Rebecca Wild June 2019
I practiced yoga for 30 years in the Bay area, but after moving to Port Townsend, pain in my hip led me to Debra's therapeutic yoga class. I had thought I might need a hip replacement, but through Debra's skilled teaching and individualized attention, my hip rather quickly became more flexible and pain free! My work with Debra over the last several years has also helped with my overall flexibility and sense of well being. I particularly appreciate her focus on alignment and opening the large psoas muscle, which affects so many parts of the body, but is often ignored. In addition to being a highly skilled and knowledgeable teacher, Debra is kind, compassionate, supportive and fun. Anyone who works with Debra is in for a treat!
Jo Tiffany May 2019
I have been taking yoga classes for over 20 years and I have never had a teacher like Debra. Debra breaks down each posture and explains exactly where every part of your body should be and why. She makes sure you know how to protect your knees and back, then observes each person and helps them modify and make the adjustments they need on that day. When I moved to Port Townsend I had been living with chronic back pain and was really worried about leaving my physical therapist who had kept me upright for years. Then I went to Debra's Therapeutic Yoga class and began to learn how to strengthen my core and take more control of my back pain. I followed Debra from Lawrence Street to North Beach and would probably follow her anywhere. Through working with Debra I also resolved a "Frozen Shoulder" that did not respond to physical therapy.
Hope Maloney April 2018
Hip issues run in my family. I’m an active person so I’ve fought the periodic soreness in my right hip thinking it's my fate to endure pain until it gets bad enough that I need surgery. I was wrong. After a year in Debra’s Therapeutic Yoga class twice a week, the change is dramatic. I rarely wake in the night with my hip aching. If I occasionally have soreness during the day, the stretches I have learned relieve it. I think the credit goes to Debra’s skilled instruction, her close caring attention to every class member’s body alignment, and her humor. I’ll take a little credit though. Even with the best teacher, you have to show up for the practice.
Harriet Cannon March 2018
Debra is a wonderful teacher. I was fairly new to yoga when I started with her, so knew very little about how to do the poses. Her focus on proper alignment was exactly what I needed. I am so much more flexible and balanced since starting her class. The yoga wall was frightening to me at the beginning, but she patiently worked with me until now I love to hang in downward dog. She is outstanding in her ability to work with whatever issues her students have. Last year I suffered through a frozen shoulder for over six months but did not have to give up my practice as she showed me how to modify all the poses, so I could slowly return to my full capacity. Just recently I had an issue with my back, she did a few adjustments and, miracle of miracles the problem was solved. (Amazing what having someone stand on you can do!). A week without yoga with Debra is now a week that feels empty.
Ellen Hargis March 2018
I've worked with Debra for three years. It's changed my life. I'd practiced yoga for decades with many other teachers, but got to a point where chronic pain prevented me from attending classes. After hearing great things about Debra, I decided to try her Therapeutic Yoga class. From the first day, Debra taught me things about posture that NO ONE had ever mentioned. Her focus is entirely on relieving pain from injuries and then preventing further injury, all the while teaching us proper alignment, making the body stronger.
I had a rather severe fracture recently that kept me out of class for a few months. After physical therapy got me well enough to return to yoga, I was amazed at how my healing accelerated. Within weeks, I went from struggling to walk to walking with full range of motion and no pain!
Debra is, hand's down, the best yoga teacher I've ever known. She's full of love and treats each student with utmost respect and caring.
Elissa Smith February 2018
I had given up on having a yoga practice after trying for decades to find a good fit for my mind, body and spirit. After a class I would leave with only frustration of not being able to do the poses and no understanding of the benefit and why's of doing them.
Then a marvelous coincidence occurred about two years ago when a friend invited me to Debra's Restorative Yoga class. At the end of that first session I had an emotional reaction - tears of joy - knowing in my heart that I had found my "home."
Now I have a new and continued awareness of my body. Debra, a yoga therapist, has comprehensive knowledge in this area. She watches all of us with keen eyes of the eagle, making corrections, adjustments and ensuring we have the appropriate props to do the pose without causing harm to ourselves.
As I see my progress, I persevere and have made a commitment to a life time practice. I am experiencing positive changes - I call them miracles. Flat feet now have arches; the hunch on my back is softening; no pain where there was pain...and more. Debra and her Therapeutic Yoga are both gifts for which I will be ever grateful.
Linda Spratt Janurary 2018
I started with Debra after knee surgery inflamed the arthritis in my knee. She is such a patient teacher...always making sure that I'm feeling no pain in my knee during a pose, and altering the pose if necessary. After 18 months, the muscles surrounding my knee are so much stronger and my core strength has increased dramatically. I've been gardening pain free all season!
Jody Glaubman November 2017
Debra Wolfe is an extraordinary teacher. She is a compassionate healer who combines technical knowledge with instinctive understanding of an individual’s physical problems. For example, last year after only two classes she cleared up a painful knot in my shoulder that had been there for years – and it has not come back. Small classes mean that everyone receives her hands-on attention. The movements are yoga-based, but the emphasis is on the therapeutic elements. We, her students, are there because she is wonderful, but also for the practical reason that she knows how to correct our body’s painful misalignment and injuries. Students tell stories of how after working with her they no longer needed back surgery or how they regained lost motor mobility, along with the usual benefits of a yoga practice. Deb teaches you how to work with your body, but does it with impressive lessons in tranquility and joy. Highest recommendation.
Patricia Lennox October 2017
The teaching at NW Yoga Shala is by far the best yoga instruction I have experienced. Debra is incredibly knowledgeable with a keen eye for alignment. She is able to see into the body and make shifts in your physical awareness that bring your practice to a whole new level. I drive an hour just to take her class and it has become the time I look forward to most in my week.
Abby Carl October 2017
About 20 months ago, I began to have discomfort in my lower back and hips and numbness in both feet which extended up my left leg to my hip. I could not walk my dogs and had to lean on the grocery cart while shopping. After initial X-rays and ultrasound evaluations, I learned that I had "very extreme spinal stenosis", with L4 - L5 vertebra displacement. While waiting for my appointment with a conservative spine surgeon, I decided that yoga might be helpful. It was my great good fortune to discover Debra Wolfe and her NW Yoga Shala! Debra felt that with Therapeutic Yoga, three times a week, she would be able to diminish my pain and increase my mobility within 6 to 8 months. Soon after I visited my spine specialist. He was glad to hear that I was beginning therapeutic yoga classes, but sent me home with information regarding spine surgery, saying that he expected it was in my future.
Four months later, I was very encouraged. Already I was feeling so much better. I celebrated by taking a late spring day hike of 9 miles in the Olympic Mountains - something I wouldn't have imagined possible. Shortly thereafter, when I had a follow-up visit with my spin surgeon, he was quite amazed with my increased flexibility and strength, and declared that "surgery is off the table for you at this point".
I continue to work with Debra 3 times a week and am now pain free, very much stronger and more flexible, and I can do everything I thought I'd never do again! I ride a mountain bike, sail my boat, folk dance, and hike. I did a 3 day backpack trip last summer, carry my own gear and this past winter went downhill skiing again. I attribute the return of wellness and energy to my 72 year old body to Debra and her knowledge, skill and compassion. I am constantly in awe of her ability to work with each student in the personalized, deeply caring manner she brings to us. Debra and NW Yoga & Wellness are at the top of my gratitude list! What a privilege it is to be able to work with her. (I'm 17 in picture ... feeling more like it every day!)
Kate MacMillan September 2017
I can't say enough good things about Debra and her classes. She's so attentive to her clients individual needs. Her knowledge and training are amassing. I look forward to going to class. In just a very short time I am seeing improvement. And I want more.
Debbie Jones May 2017
Life-changing instruction. Really. A kind and deeply knowledgeable teacher. Debra's instruction has made such a difference for me. Less pain. More flexibility, strength and ease in moving.
Marilyn Lewis April 2017 ·
Debra is an amazing practitioner. I learned so much in just one visit. Wish I lived in PT area and could work with her all the time. She GETS scoliosis!
Amy Lyons March 2017