Yoga is broadly recognized all over the world as a complementary system of health care and healing. Although yoga is an ancient discipline, having its origin in the Eastern countries and mainly in India, the benefits of yoga for all societies have been well recognized by now. Yoga is also a vast system of tools that helps its practitioners develop self-empowering abilities and abilities to cope with different situations in their daily lives in a creative and productive manner.
Therapeutic yoga is geared mainly towards teaching the practitioners techniques for prevention of pains, aches, and ailments in daily life. However, the challenge that faces the yoga teachers is to adapt the system of yoga to the needs, lifestyles, and psychologies of a society situated uniquely in a specific moment in space and time. For example, yogic techniques, which originated in ancient societies and under different cultural contexts, need to pass through certain improvisations when applied to, say, the modern western societies. An immediate and direct understanding of the workings of the contemporary society and what are the causes that lead to everyday ailments, pains and mental stress in today’s environment, is essential to in order to fashion effective healing techniques and develop a useful yoga routine.
The Yogic System of Holistic Self-Care
Therapeutic yoga involves instruction in yoga practice and postures that aim to reduce, alleviate, or prevent emotional, physiological, structural, and spiritual pain. Yogic practices, for example, are known to improve cardiovascular and respiratory functions, enhance body flexibility and muscular strength, reduce chronic pain, stress, depression, and anxiety, help recover from addictive practices, improve sleep patterns, and enhance the overall quality of life for the practitioners.
Many a yoga teacher will stress the fact that yoga, when practiced for some time, help alter dysfunctional behavior in the practitioners. In most instances, it so happens that individuals recognize the unhealthy habits of action and feel powerless to change them or stay off them. But what yoga does is to make the practitioners more sensitive to the effects of their minds and bodies and about how they interrelate. It also helps us realize in a more sentient manner the points of affinities between the human and the natural world and how they correlate to each other. This overall awareness, in turn, makes us feel more in harmony with our surroundings and lead our lives in a more creative and healthy manner.
Modern yogic methodology will often involve practicing techniques of meditation, asana, pranayama. These and other yogic practices will often make the practitioners incorporate many concrete and useful changes in their daily life such as staying off caffeine or alcohol, eating better, leaving jobs or other projects with unnecessary amounts of stress, pressure, and involving unreasonable demands.
Yoga therapy practices such as meditation, slow pranayama, asana, guided imagery lead to stress release and mental relaxation by activating the PNS or the parasympathetic nervous system. PNS helps lower our blood pressure and slow down heart rates, thus making recovery from strenuous activities and stressful events easier for the practitioners. At the same time, other yoga therapy practices, such as breath retentions, kaphalabhati breathing, sun salutations, etc., activate our sympathetic nervous system (SNS), a process that helps us deal more effectively with crisis situations in life. Yogic techniques also help to create a harmony between the right and the left side of our brain, corresponding to creative and logical thought respectively.
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