Archive for March 12th, 2011

What Is Yoga Therapy?

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

yoga certificationAmruta Kulkarni, CYT 250

Yoga therapy has made its way into mainstream medicine as part of health treatment programs. Many health care professionals recognize the therapeutic value of practicing Yoga in conjunction with traditional medical treatments. The postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama) can help manage symptoms of disease and mental health disorders.

While western medicine primarily treats the body or the mind separately, Yoga therapy approaches healing and wellness holistically by focusing on all levels of the person. These levels are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. For true healing to occur, all aspects of a person must be addressed as a whole.

When practiced with concentration and body awareness, Yoga helps promote greater health and vitality, thus providing therapeutic effects to mind and body. The long, slow stretches and deep breathing induce a sense of relaxation and well-being. Practitioners who practice Yoga often tend to develop a more optimistic view of life. They may look at life in a deeper, calmer way and develop a newfound awareness of experiences.

Yoga students often come to classes with a goal in mind. It might be from too much stress, grief, a specific health issue, or to change their bodies. Regardless of their initial goal, practitioners begin to see the deeper benefits of living a quality life. The emotional and mental benefits of Yoga turn a beginner into a steady practitioner.

By strengthening and relaxing both the mind and body, Yoga therapy can help patients cope with health concerns more effectively. The therapy session is private or for a small group that shares the same problem. Yoga therapy can target a practice toward specific health concerns, such as diabetes, depression, back pain, heart disease and more. For example, a Yoga therapy program targeting depression would not be the same as one geared to relieve back pain.

There are many different needs for the therapeutic application of Yoga. For example: Practicing Yoga postures, pranayama, mantra, and meditation purges depression while improving one’s overall well-being. Those suffering from stress find that the deep breathing and stretches draw the tension out of their bodies so that they can relax. Yoga therapy can also aid in the healing of psychological disorders, when combined with traditional approaches such as counseling or psychotherapy.

Yoga therapy has been used by psychiatrists to help calm agitated patients. Also, Yoga may enhance the results and alleviate the side effects of medical treatments. When the body is relaxed, it is easier to cope with treatments like chemotherapy or radiation for cancer, and unwanted side-effects of conventional health treatments may be prevented while improving overall health.

People continue with Yoga therapy sessions to relieve chronic pain, recover from injuries or illnesses, reduce stress, improve well-being, relieve depression, and many more reasons.  Yoga teachers should expand their knowledge of therapeutic applications of Yoga to meet student needs.

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