We all know yoga can improve your balance and flexibility. But did you know yoga therapy can alleviate pain, improve your strength, and help prevent future injuries? Read on to find out about yoga therapy and how it can target the cause of your pain.
What is yoga therapy?
It is the use of specific yoga practices to alleviate pain and maximise health and wellbeing.
The International Association of Yoga Therapists defines it like this:
“Yoga therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of Yoga.”
It differs from regular yoga because you don’t just follow a class or move through a standardized sequence. Your therapist provides a one-to-one intervention, specific to you, based on your needs and on what you want to achieve.
Who is it for?
Yoga is a hugely popular form of exercise. It has become well known as a method to improve flexibility and strength. It has impressive benefits for mental health too, with studies showing it aids relaxation, improves mood and brain function, and even alleviates the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
But problems can arise when yoga practice doesn’t account for individual needs and capabilities. For some people, the approach to yoga needs to be flexible and focused.
Beginners to a yoga class sometimes don’t get the full attention they need to learn the techniques safely and correctly. A therapist tailors your session to you, so you learn the proper form and are able to progress from a solid foundation.
Yoga puts you in touch with your body and is a great way to learn about how you move as an individual. But when you’re trying to follow along with a class, it can be all too easy to push that little bit too far to try and achieve the perfect position.
A therapist will work with you to ensure that movements and positions can adapt to your body. This way, you’ll progress at the rate that’s right for you, rather than fitting in with the rest of the class!
If you are prone to injury, yoga therapy might be the answer you’re looking for.
Injuries often occur when one part of the body is under strain because it’s having to compensate for another part that isn’t working properly.
Yoga therapy focuses on whole-body integration. This means ensuring each part is at full function. The emphasis is on quality of movement, rather than on quantity.
A therapist looks at the flow of movement. For example, despite being flexible enough to touch your toes, you might have a tendency to strain your back. A therapist will teach you to improve the quality of that movement. That might mean increasing the movement in your hips, therefore reducing the load on your low back. Yoga therapy, then, is an ideal solution for those looking to combine strength and flexibility while recovering from injury, or for those seeking to prevent old niggles from recurring.
If you have a medicalcondition, such as multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular disease, or a respiratory disorder, then yoga therapy can help.
Yoga’s use of movement, mindfulness and breathing techniques has been shown to have benefits for many such conditions. It can reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, help weight management, and regulate stress hormones.
It’s important that you work with someone who understands your condition and how it affects you. A therapist takes time to understand your goals and plan an intervention that specifically works towards helping you achieve them.
Thinking of trying yoga therapy?
So whether you’re dealing with a shoulder injury, chronic back pain, stress, or ill-health, yoga therapy is a tailored intervention that can alleviate your symptoms and maximise your health.