By Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 250
The earliest references to Yoga come from four shastras known as the Vedas. The Vedas are historically recognized as the earliest existing form of scriptures of humankind. The shastras explained and regulated aspects of life from supreme reality to life on earth, and were orally passed from guru to disciple for thousands of years before being written down.
Through many centuries, the art of Yoga, a relaxing, yet energizing technique of stretching the physical body and enhancing spiritual awareness, has evolved into a combination of a Yoga techniques and passive treatments, including medicinal treatments, we call Yoga therapy.
Yoga was introduced in the United States in 1893 when Swami Vivekananda of India spoke at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. The goal of the Parliament was to integrate the religions and sciences of East and West cultures. At that time, Yoga would grow with the creation of the Vedanta society. Early North American Yoga was guided by the Vedanta society, but would be nurtured for the most part by female gurus.
Back in India, the guru of gurus was born on November 18, 1888 in Muchukundapura in Karnataka. Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya is considered to be the father of modern Yoga and contemporary Yoga Therapy. Today, most schools of Yoga Therapy can be traced back to him. He was the teacher of BKS Iyengar, A. G. Mohan, and TKV Desikachar, three of the most well known Gurus of contemporary Yoga Therapy.
In the 1980s, Yoga therapy was re-introduced to North America in a publication by Dr. Dean Ornish concerning the study of the effects of lifestyle intervention on heart disease. The study demonstrated heart disease could be reversed through lifestyle changes which included therapeutic Yoga, meditation, and diet. By the 1990s, the Program for Reversing Heart Disease was approved for health insurance coverage, making Yoga therapy a part of medical procedures.
Since the introduction of Dr. Ornish’s enlightening program for reversing heart disease, research for many other conditions has been explored and developed. Research has proven Yoga breathing exercises (pranayama) used in a therapeutic context helps manage symptoms of disease and often makes ailing patients feel better.
Some of the many conditions Yoga therapy has relieved are: Depression, insomnia, breathing difficulties, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, mourning, sciatica and muscle tension, autoimmune illnesses, nervousness, perfectionism, and many other ailments.
Yoga therapy, also known as restorative Yoga therapy, helps individuals loosen joints, ease sore muscles, and tone internal organs with a combination of passive, or assisted, Yoga, acupressure, reflexology, energy work and massage techniques. During the Yoga therapy session, the energy lines (sen) and energy centers (marma points) are activated to create vital energy (prana) which alleviates symptoms of discomfort on physical, mental, and emotional levels.
In ancient times gurus passed their knowledge to disciples. Currently many schools and online Yoga teacher training programs offer generalized and specialized Yoga therapy training. General Yoga therapy training enables therapists to treat a wide range of conditions and specialized therapy training focuses on one specific condition, such as depression, back pain, insomnia, and many others. Programs are a combination of healthcare, anatomy, Yoga, and business management classes, lasting from 200 to 500 credit hours for certification.
© Copyright 2011 – Amruta Kulkarni / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Amruta Kulkarni is a certified Yoga teacher and an exclusive author for Aura Wellness Center.
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