“Yoga therapy is the adaptation of yoga practices for people with health challenges. Yoga therapists prescribe specific regimens of postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques to suit individual needs. Medical research shows that Yoga therapy is among the most effective complementary therapies for several common aliments. The challenges may be an illness, a temporary condition like pregnancy or childbirth, or a chronic condition associated with old age or infirmity”.
-Yoga Biomedical Trust (England)
Robin Monro, Ph.D.
While yoga can help prevent and treat many health conditions, it can also lead to injuries especially if it is not practiced safely and mindfully. Yoga Therapy adapts the practice of Yoga to the needs of people with specific or persistent health challenges not usually addressed in a group class.
Therefore, students whom have health challenges will benefit from therapeutic yoga, taught ‘one-to-one’ or in small groups.
Starting Yoga Therapy
An initial consultation and assessment with a full case history is necessary before embarking on a recommended minimum 6-week course. A specific regimen of postures, breathing exercises, meditation and relaxation techniques are tailored to support each individual.
What is yoga therapy?
Yoga therapy is the application of yoga to health problems. While general yoga can help with some ailments, specialist yoga therapy is needed for others. This is important not only because yoga therapy can be more effective than general yoga for such ailments but also it is safer. Certain conditions can be exacerbated by general yoga. Yoga therapy can help in the management and prevention of many different ailments
Will Yoga Therapy work for me?
Yoga has a great wealth of practices that can be drawn upon for health purposes. This enables yoga therapists to select practices, which are appropriate for different ages and conditions. In their hands yoga is safe and effective for children and elder people, as well as for those in the middle age range. It can also be of great benefit for pregnancy and childbirth.
There is no need to be fearful of yoga if you have never tried it before. The commonly seen pictures of difficult yoga postures are misleading. Yoga therapy can be beneficially utilised by people with no prior experience of yoga, as well as by those with years of yoga experience. Yoga therapists adapt the practices to each person’s level of health, fitness, flexibility and prior experience of yoga.
How does it work?
People can begin to practice yoga and benefit straight away, even if they have never practiced yoga before. Therapeutic yoga tends to be gentle and nurturing, though it can be challenging. It places a heavy focus on bodily awareness and postural alignment with movement tied to relaxed, rhythmic breathing. Much more than in physical exercise, students practicing therapeutic yoga are taught to tune into subtle sensations of their muscles and joints, as well as the mind.
My unique approach tends to be hands-on, whilst tailoring to the individual, based on needs, abilities and responses, as well as my observation and any contraindications. Props such as blankets, bolsters and straps may be employed to make postures more comfortable and safer, or postures themselves may be modified.
What are the practices of yoga therapy?
Yoga is a mind and body system. It supports both mental and physical levels, aiming to foster harmonious functioning of the whole person. Just as mental actions affect the physical body through psychosomatic processes, so physical actions affect the mind. Accordingly, yoga therapy utilises the following broad range of physical and mental practices.
Physical postures and movements
Simple yoga postures gently stretch and strengthen muscles, improving mobility, flexibility, respiration, circulation, digestion and elimination. These consist of both simple movements and held postures, which promote a general sense of health and well-being.
Breathing is the interface between body and mind. It continues automatically from the moment we are born to the moment we die without a break. It is, however, constantly being influenced by our emotions and activities and (unlike heart beating) we can consciously modify it. Yoga therapy uses simple breathing practices to harmonise body and mind, manage stress and reduce energy blockages, which are often associated with health problems.
Learning how to relax is another central element of yoga therapy. Relaxation is the body’s way of recharging and helps to ease physical and mental tension. Yoga therapy uses very effective relaxation techniques, which can often be of great help in the relief of stress and renewal of energy. They can also help in the management of pain.
Meditation can help one step back from the pressures of daily life and look objectively at one’s habitual patterns of behaviour, enabling one to cope better with situations that put the body and mind under strain. The two most widely used meditation practices in yoga therapy are ‘mindfulness meditation’ and ‘emotion culturing’. In mindfulness meditation one gets to know oneself by observing one’s thoughts and emotions without judging them. In emotion culturing one explores the reduction of fear and other negative emotions by replacing them with positive emotions. Negative emotions often play a part in the perpetuation of health problems.
Yoga Therapy can assist in a wide range of conditions and health
challenges, including amongst others:
- Stress, anxiety and depression.
- Back pain, sciatica, spondylitis, osteoporosis, and arthritis.
- IBS, constipation, indigestion, ulcers, diabetes and obesity.
- Common cold, asthma, sinusitis and hay fever.
- Menstrual disorders, urogenital infections and disorders, prostate problems, kidney stones and prolapse.
- Hypertension, varicose veins and circulatory disorders.
- Thyroid disorders.
- Parkinson Disease, Multiple sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.
- Rehabilitation after surgery or/and in some cases is an alternative treatment option replacing the need for surgery.
No prior experience is necessary before undergoing treatment. Yoga Therapists do not claim to supersede medical treatments, but to compliment them.