The concept behind yoga offers a plethora of benefits no matter which style you practice. Some even say that the practice of yoga in itself is therapeutic. But, yoga therapy is about delving deeper. It incorporates elements of a variety of practices to create a plan specific to a clients needs. With an approach like this, those who are in need receive individualized support. Whether it is to encourage the spirit or to offer tools to strengthen the body.
Yoga therapy’s intent is a holistic approach. By using different techniques we’re able to customize benefits to a specific need. For instance, some postures may aim to reduce toxins in the body. While others may bring someone insight on their minds reactiveness to an event. These are invaluable tools that we achieve through yoga. This can help us understand ourselves on a physiological level as well as psychological.
There’s a saying to be kind to everyone because we don’t know what someone is struggling through. Yoga therapy is about targeting what you’re facing and to meet you there with compassion. Yoga therapy is non-judgmental and comes from a place of encouragement and support.
Who Can Benefit From Yoga Therapy?
As with any therapy, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Yoga therapy is something that caters to the individual. Because of this, it’s too difficult to say what exactly the benefits will be for any one person. It could mean something different to everyone.
Yoga therapy helps individuals achieve a greater sense of well-being. Either from gaining a heightened sense of self-worth or self-confidence. But, there are several who experience mental health concerns or chronic illnesses that seek yoga therapy as well. They may find benefit in a variety of ways by seeking yoga as an adjective therapy. For instance, the below showcase ways that yoga therapy helps individuals as they face obstacles in their daily life.
Mental Health Concerns
Yoga is capable of helping us recognize unconscious behaviors that our body has. That could even mean that our mind is sending signals that we’re not even aware of. For instance, our minds could be hyperactive or sending signals that create excess stress. With yoga, we can detect these signals and be more aware of our bodies’ needs.
Yoga is able to slow down our respiratory rate and reduce stress. This helps people who suffer from chronic asthma take control of their breathing patterns. There isn’t specific research that supports this connection. But, there is research that shows reduction of stress and control of breathing patterns through yoga practice. Either way, this is a significant finding. As this can help individuals take control of their breathing and also recognize triggers.
Anxiety and Depression
Yoga is renowned for its ability to achieve balance between the mind and body. One of the ways that yoga achieves this is through regulating our breathing. This benefits us because our nervous system is closely dependent on our breathing patterns. When we’re anxious our breaths turn shallow, and unconsciously we may hold our breaths without even noticing. But, with exercises like yoga we are able to bring ease to our nervous system and deepen our breathing.
Trauma and PTSD
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Trauma can interfere, and sometimes take control of someone’s life. Those who face these circumstances may find conditions difficult to overcome. Alongside traditional therapy methods, yoga can benefit as an integral part of their healing. Yoga practices intentional breathing and exercises this with movement. This can benefit individuals by monitoring their emotional regulation.
This type of exercise can also help manage their sympathetic nervous system. Individuals who struggle with their stress response may not realize it’s triggered by certain events. The sympathetic nervous system could also experience sensitivity and become overactive.
Yoga also helps benefit by enhancing coping skills and heightening an individual’s sense of value. When making us more aware of the self, we can recognize more about what our subconscious is bringing to the surface. In our day-to-day, we may not be aware of the information that is coming to the surface. Information that may be problematic. Yoga can help us tune into what it’s saying and find comfort in knowing we can overcome this negative energy.
When we address the negative energy that exists within our subconscious we help prevent us coping in other ways. Such as giving in to problematic ways of finding comfort like substance abuse. When we establish the source of pain, and confront it, we’re able to heal. Yoga therapy is there to comfort and bring individual’s to a safe place where they can face these issues. Helping manage symptoms and give control back to the individual.
If you’re someone who suffers from sleep insomnia then practicing yoga on a daily basis may help you fall asleep. Some of the causes of what keeps people awake at night is due to hyperarousal. What this means is that the ‘fight or flight’ response that’s ingrained in us is still elevated. Even if you feel tired or lethargic your nervous system could be experiencing an entirely different response. Yoga can help you achieve balance that will help you get to sleep and stay asleep.
Our bodies are incredible. But, with that they’re also very delicate. Because of yoga’s fluid movements we’re able to increase our circulation and immunity. This brings benefit to us against an array of different illnesses that we face.
Research in the connection of yoga therapy and diabetes is still in its infancy. But, there are some promising clinical trials that show significant reports. For an individual who practices yoga daily and seeing a substantial change in blood pressure and lipids profiles. The changes found in the liver and the cells of the muscles become more subject to insulin.
This is a significant finding. This is because it’s becoming more open. Enabling sugar (glucose) to move into the cells freely and enter the bloodstream. This will help people with diabetes reach the blood sugar targets they need. Yoga benefits individuals by helping bring strength to their muscles through asanas. By maintaining a healthy body, diabetics take control of their weight. Consequently, they regulate their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Yoga works to compliment other forms of therapy and other health modalities. This is because it helps patients work through their diagnosis and cope with the stress and anxiety associated with their cancer. Yoga helps reduce stress because of it’s breathing exercises and encouragement to help ease the mind with meditative practices. This will help cancer patients give their minds a break with setting intentions that are positive and hopeful.
As mentioned above yoga helps to relieve stress. This is beneficial as hormones associated with stress like cortisol work to narrow our arteries. Yoga helps to encourage regular breathing patterns that can better prepare us on how to reduce stress. Aside from the benefits of reducing stress, yoga also works to lower your blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood glucose.
The mind-body connection is something that some take for granted. But, when there is a neurological condition that occurs we’re quickly reminded of the body’s delicate nature. For individuals who have one of the below conditions, yoga can help with expanding neuroplasticity in the brain. This can help the health of the brain and speed of the healing process.
Yoga requires plenty of dedicated focus when performing postures and this works to improve the mind’s connection to the body. As we’re performing a posture, we do so with a very deliberate intention. Even if we are not able to perform the posture to its full potential we are still able to stimulate areas of the mind. With these movements we establish these connections that help rewire these neural pathways to promote growth and healing of the brain.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
For individuals with multiple sclerosis, yoga can become a helpful tool in balance and strength progression. Because of yoga’s strength building exercises, it can help promote ease in daily activities of living. The practice of yoga can help provide benefits that work to bring individuals with MS to a more relaxed state quicker. This is helpful if someone is to undergo imaging, where they must remain sedentary for a long period of time. Yoga practices proper breathing, and relaxation techniques to help individuals remain calm through some procedures.
For individuals with multiple sclerosis yoga can become a helpful tool as it focuses on achieving balance and strength. Because of yoga’s strength building exercises, it can help promote ease in daily activities of living. The practice of yoga can help provide benefits that may relax individuals as well.
Yoga offers something for everyone as it meets you where you are. If you’re someone who isn’t struggling with something specific, like a condition or disease, then yoga can benefit overall health. Yoga has the unique ability to bridge together the gaps between the mind, body and spirit. With this connection we’re reminded to practice self-acceptance and gratitude. Yoga helps us look inwardly and answer questions or have questions arise that we didn’t know we had. For a better mood and a healthier state of mind, yoga can serve as an invaluable staple in your health.
What Is The Difference Between a Yoga Therapy Session and a Yoga Class?
Although yoga itself is often thought to hold therapeutic properties there is still a difference between the two. For a yoga classroom you have a yoga student that may seek a class to look deeper into themselves or to set a specific intention. Perhaps, they’re looking into yoga for assistance on how to gain a deeper self-assessment or just as another form of exercise. They participate in activities like pranayama or breathing exercises, and have instructed meditations. They’re benefit from the class is primarily from the instruction of a yoga teacher.
A yoga teacher’s instructions is about a style that they find best suits the flow of their practice and that guides students. Some teachers may exercise ways for the student to even instruct themselves to achieve a more in-depth benefit. Yet, whatever the case may be the teachers focus on an instructional method to educate their students.
For a yoga therapy session, the classroom isn’t as broadly set. Instead of focusing on guiding the class as a whole you’re working with individuals where they are. Asking questions about their needs and intentions. A yoga therapists responsibility is to meet their students where they are and to work with them in ways that best support those needs.
For instance, yoga therapists have training to fully assess their client through active listening, questions and observation. They work to reduce their clients’ symptoms and create goals. These clients don’t come from a place where they necessarily want to learn about the practice of yoga but to benefit solely from it’s therapeutic benefits. They seek to improve their functioning and to feel better.
Is Yoga Therapy For You?
Yoga therapy is a field that is gaining more traction in the scientific community. It is helping many people regain their emotions, channel their energy in a positive manner and establish physical and mental strength. Yoga therapy is about bringing the power back to the individual and having them regain control of something. Even if that is a matter of self-worth or self-value. Whatever you may be struggling with yoga therapy is there to meet you where you are most comfortable.
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Lauren Howard holds a master certification in reiki, or energy healing, and has been practicing yoga for over 20 years. She began freelance writing as a means of spreading her truth and knowledge with a broader audience.