Does Yoga therapy have a mysterious past? If sages knew its secrets thousands of years ago, why has it taken so long for us to find out about its benefits? Like other forms of shamanic wisdom, Yogic philosophy was handed down orally over thousands of years, staying in the hands of those who protected and preserved its teachings.
Yogic Therapy Yesterday
Beginning as a comprehensive science – a means of incorporating physical, mental, and spiritual health – Yogic methods address everything from daily life to spirituality and everyone from the individual to the community. Yoga training was created to be the foundation on which a healthy society could be built, not a hodge-podge of ideas from which people took the pieces they needed to “fix” their problems.
Various traditions of Yogic methodology and philosophy have been found throughout India and Asia. The “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” detail the practice and form the basis for most of the contemporary teachings introduced by Swamis to the western world.
Yogic Therapy Today
Speaking from a westerner’s viewpoint: Yoga is relatively new in the on the global stage. Brought to the west by Indian Swamis in the 19th century, Yoga therapy has evolved on the International stage over the years, changing from an exotic physical exercise to a part of the counter culture and today it is a conventional part of mainstream culture. The renaissance of International Yoga in the 21st century accompanied a renewed interest in spirituality and energy medicine, but traditional medicine also contributed to its growth.
Just as people are discovering the benefits of Yoga for stress and quality of life, scientists are researching its benefits on a wide range of diseases, including mental health, chronic illnesses, cancer, heart problems, and immune disorders. At the same time, the medical field is recommending Yoga as both a complement to traditional care and a deterrent to future illnesses.
Three Therapeutic Yoga Practices
Although not as well known as postures, controlled breathing techniques make up one of the major limbs of a Yogic practice. Yogic breathing calms the nervous system, rids the body of toxins, and improves circulation.
Physical exercises range from gentle stretches to complex postures. Depending on health and ability, students use props, chairs, or other support in order to receive maximum benefits from the practice.
Meditation can be a part of postures and breathing, but poses and breathing also lead the way to meditation. Most classes end with a short relaxation.
There are many ways to incorporate Yoga therapy into daily life. While more beneficial when done regularly as part of an overall practice, stretches, deep breathing, and relaxation can provide therapeutic benefits at any time and place.
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