It’s no secret that yoga boasts a range of great health benefits. Amongst other things, the practice can relieve stress and anxiety, boost your metabolism, and even combat serious health issues. But is yoga classed as a type of therapy? In short, the answer is yes. However, to be considered as ‘Yoga Therapy’, the practice must use techniques to treat physical injury or emotional stress or trauma. In this article, we explore Yoga Therapy and its benefits in more detail. If you’re hoping to get involved, be sure to pick up some comfortable yoga clothes. As we approach the summer months, a lightweight yoga vest and a pair of shorts will be perfect.
While standard yoga classes are therapeutic, there are a few key differences between a yoga class and a yoga therapy session. Below, we discuss these further.
One of the key differences between a yoga class and a yoga therapy session is the instructor. A standard yoga class can be led by any certified instructor. A yoga therapy session, on the other hand, must be taught by a yoga therapist. Rather than concentrating on yoga as a practice, a yoga therapist focuses on the practitioners’ needs. Generally, those that attend a yoga therapy session are there to address a problem. However, it’s not unusual for the client to be unsure of the cause. A yoga therapist must determine what the issue is, and what can be done to support the client. In their training, therapists learn how to asses clients to determine the cause of their pain. This is done through listening, questioning, and observing. If appropriate, therapists can also asses the injury with their hands. Once the cause has been determined, therapists will suggest ways to reduce or manage the symptoms. While some physical injuries cannot be improved, yoga therapy can help with the emotional side of the injury. During each session, some clients focus on their attitude in relation to their health condition.
Each yoga therapy class will begin with an assessment. If you’re new to the class, the therapist will spend time assessing your injury and determining the cause. Once the assessment is complete, the therapist will focus on the primary symptoms and suggest methods to manage them. Some of the most common issues including pain and discomfort, insomnia, and general fatigue. In addition to relieving physical symptoms, the therapist will suggest ways for the client to self-care. These often include yogic techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation. Ultimately, yoga therapy helps clients to overcome their health condition and regain independence. When suffering from a chronic health condition, its easy to become depressed and anxious – particularly if the condition affects day-to-day life. Yoga therapy teaches clients to manage their mental health, too.
Yoga therapy is often practiced in groups. Typically, those with a similar health condition will be in the same session. Although the therapist will still spend one-to-one time with each client, group sessions are a great way to learn new techniques together. Better still, they are normally cheaper than one-to-one sessions.
During a yoga therapy session, the therapist will asses your condition and identify the best recovery method. In addition to improving your health condition, yoga has a range of other benefits, too. Below, we discuss these in more detail.
It’s a well-known fact that exercise can relieve stress. The same effect applies to yoga. Additionally, yoga can reduce cortisol – which is often referred to as the ‘stress hormone’. Taming the stress response, yoga primes the parasympathetic nervous system. Essentially, regular yoga practice can reduce the effects of the ‘fight or flight’ response which can leave you feeling tense, stressed, and anxious.
Yoga also helps to relieve stress by teaching mindfulness. Helping clients to stay in the present, meditation and mindful breathing can relieve stress, anxiety, and even depression. If you’re feeling particularly on edge, try meditating for a few minutes before work. This simple step can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, allowing you to head off to work feeling relaxed.
When practiced in the evening, yoga can drastically improve sleep quality. Encouraging the body to relax, restorative asanas are a great way to wind down after a busy day. When your body and mind is relaxed, you are able to sleep deeper. This means that you’ll wake up the next morning feeling refreshed and restored.
When practiced regularly, yoga can improve your circulation and blood-flow. Over time, this can lead to better physical and emotional health. When your circulation is good, oxygen-rich blood is delivered to each area of the body. This allows each organ to function correctly. If you’re suffering from poor circulation, you may experience numbness, tingling, and dizziness. If left untreated, poor circulation can lead to more serious health issues such as heart disease and blood clots. Thankfully, practicing yoga for just a few minutes each day will help your blood to flow smoothly.
Whether you’re suffering from insomnia, pain, or general fatigue, yoga therapy can help you to overcome your condition. Over a series of classes, you will learn how to manage your symptoms and regain control of your life. If you choose to attend a group class, you will meet like-minded individuals and may even make friends for life! Better still, they will understand the struggle of living with a chronic health condition. Before your first session, it’s a good idea to find out what equipment you need. If you’re unsure, a comfortable yoga mat and a breathable outfit will be your best bet.