Therapeutic Values of Yoga
Although yoga has been a practice of improving physical and mental health for centuries, the specific use of yoga as a therapy is a relatively new practice. Starting in the 1920s, yoga therapy focuses on the individual and their specific wellbeing. Yoga therapy views the person as a whole - incorporating the mind, body and emotions together. By using both asana practices (yoga postures) and pranayama (breath work), it is believed that an individual’s health and wellbeing can be improved.
But what is yoga therapy? Yoga therapists have two goals: 1) to help those who are already suffering and 2) to help those who have poor lifestyles. According to Gary Kraftsow (American Viniyoga Institute), “yoga therapy, derived from the yoga tradition of Patanjali and the ayurvedic system of health care, refers to the adaptation and application of yoga techniques and practices to help individuals facing health challenges at any level manage their condition, reduce symptoms, restore balance, increase vitality and improve attitude”. While Larry Payne at the Samata Yoga Center (USA) states “yoga therapy adapts the practice of yoga to the needs of people with specific or persistent health problems not usually addressed in group class”.
How is yoga therapy different from yoga? Yoga therapy is different than yoga in that it specifically targets a physical or psychological problem, using healing practices based on scientific research. Yoga therapy restores the body to its original state. It helps individuals who have disconnected between their mind-body. Using their functional knowledge of the human body and anatomy, yoga therapists modify yoga postures to the individual’s health concerns. Yoga therapy sessions are customized to the individual as a curative or preventive practice. In yoga, healthy individuals practice it only (an individual with an injury should not practice). Yoga teachers teach using a generalized approach for the whole group and usually the same postures are practiced over and over.
What happens in a yoga therapy session? Yoga therapy sessions focus on the individual’s needs. Therefore, you will be required to fill out a questionnaire about yourself, basic medical history and your current lifestyle. The yoga therapist will discuss this form with you, focusing on what your goals are or what you would like to learn during these sessions. During the session, the yoga therapist will design and develop a suitable practice for you based on your discussion. Yoga therapists are not able to offer diagnosis for mental or physical health problems. Yoga therapy cannot offer the quick relief that medication or surgery can. In between the yoga therapy sessions, you will be required to practice the yoga postures at home. The practice will help you in overcoming your challenges and empower you to take an active role in your health condition. Each yoga therapy session is about 60 minutes.
If you would like a free 30 minute consultation on how yoga and mindfulness practices might help you, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.