How Does Yoga Therapy Work?

Yoga therapy is conducted one-on-one. Often a session closely resembles work with a physical therapist or rehabilitation specialist than it does a typical yoga class. What sets this healing modality apart from others is a focus on linking movement to deep, rhythmic breathing.

Yoga therapy is conducted one-on-one or in small groups. Often a session closely resembles an appointment with a physical therapist or rehabilitation specialist than it does a typical yoga class. What sets this healing modality apart from others is a focus on linking movement to deep, rhythmic breathing.

Yoga therapy starts with a one-to-one consultation to ascertain the presenting condition, associated health problems and related lifestyle factors. The first session likely starts with very simple exercises followed by gentle poses, simplified breathing techniques and at the end relaxation, so that clients can begin to practice and benefit right away, even if they have no prior experience of yoga.

Yoga therapy is very safe and In addition to helping manage the present condition, it often yields other health benefits through awareness. Yoga therapy empowers people to look after their own health.

The Tools of Yoga Therapy

The principal tools of Yoga therapy are asana, pranayama, and meditation or psychology, supplemented by changes to diet, lifestyle, and environment.

Asana involves moving the body into a position, staying in it, and moving out of it. The movements into and out of the asana are done in combination with a speci?c component of the breathing cycle: inhalation, exhalation, or suspending the breath after exhalation. Throughout, the breathing must be regulated with attention. Movement of the body and the breathing are both very important. Correct asana is crucial in dealing with problems of body structure for the obvious reason: it involves movement and muscle work.

Pranayama is to consciously regulate or observe the breath, with a focused mind, while keeping the body still. Compared to asana, pranayama is of greater importance when addressing problems in body function (other than musculoskeletal problems). There are guidelines in classical texts linking di?erent types of pranayama to diseases, based on the doshas of Ayurveda.

Meditation is to make the e?ort to keep the mind focused, or to keep one thought ?xed in the mind. For meditation to deepen, it should be practiced with the body kept still. The main role of the body in meditation is to not dis-tract the mind. Apart from meditation, there are many other practices, and much depth of analysis, in Yoga psychology. Meditation and Yoga psychology are primary tools in addressing mental illness (ie. depression, anxiety).

Diet, lifestyle, and environment change are vast subjects, but very important in the ?eld of holistic health. Diet and lifestyle factors can be important causes or aggravating factors of illness. If those factors are not eliminated, or at least mitigated, the e?ectiveness of all other measures will be compromised. Detailed guidelines for diet changes to treat diseases are not available in classical Yoga texts. We have to turn to Ayurveda for information on diet and lifestyle as therapy. Apart from Ayurveda, there are, of course, guidelines from other systems of medicine.

Additionally, the use of sound—such as chanting and mantras—can be an important tool in Yoga therapy. Sound can be integrated with asana and meditation.

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