Yoga therapy is the mixture of traditional yoga concepts and techniques and modern Western medicine. Yoga therapy uses traditional therapy’s physical healing properties, but takes it a step further by adding the healing powers of the mind and spirit. Therapy through yoga goes beyond the mat. It teaches how to maintain physical, mental, and spiritual health during practice and beyond.
Yoga therapy has been around for a long time, but has really gained ground in recent years. There are now individuals that are certified yoga therapist and use yoga as a healing tool. A yoga therapist assesses the individual in need of therapy and gives them a personalized routine to practice on a daily basis that is specific to their needs. The therapist first identifies the patients’ health problems, lifestyle and physical capability, and reasons why they are seeking therapy. They then decide on the appropriate course of action to help the individual. The routine usually involves breathing exercises (Prayanama), physical poses (Asanas), and meditation.
Breathing exercises vary depending on the needs of the patients. They can range from energizing breaths to balancing breaths. Physical poses are used to address problem areas. Physical poses are used to treat both physical and mental problems. Meditation is used to bring relaxation and mindfulness to the routine. It is important to reach a relaxed state of mind to promote mental and physical well-being. The yoga therapist modifies the routine accordingly as the patient progresses in their physical capabilities.
However, yoga therapy is not just to cure physical ailments. Yoga therapy can also ease pain in individuals suffering from PTSD, addiction, depression, and other non-physical pains. Yoga helps with mental health problems by it increases serotonin production, energy level, pain tolerance, and self-esteem. Serotonin plays a key role in the treatment of depression. This is because serotonin has a big part in happiness. People that suffer from depression generally suffer from low serotonin levels. The combination of meditation and physical movements that yoga brings are scientifically proven to help with mental health problems. Yoga helps bring a person into the present and allows them to clear their minds. Controlled, focused movements and breathing helps to strengthen the mind-body connection.
Different styles of yoga are used for various therapeutic needs. Hatha yoga is slow paced and ideal for beginners. Iyengar yoga uses props such as blocks and straps to help properly align the body. Restorative yoga spans five or six poses over an hour to bring full relaxation to the body. Yin yoga helps to restore length and elasticity to the muscles by focusing on seated and back poses.
Each style has specific qualities that can aid in helping both physical and mental problems. Some styles of yoga are more physically demanding while others are more focused on using relaxation and breath control to heal. There is no universal yoga style that will help everyone that needs therapy. Each yoga style helps different people heal the body both physically and mentally. Yoga therapy does not cure anything, but it does help to improve the quality of life.