Optimal Health through Balance – Yoga Therapy for Your Physical, Psychological, and Emotional Well-being
When it comes to physical and mental well-being, yoga is often one of the first things people think of. But did you know that yoga therapy is an evidence-based practice that can help you with a variety of serious health problems, from depression and anxiety to organ disorders, structural issues, and chronic pain?
The focus of yoga therapy is to achieve optimal health and well-being through balance and awareness of your physical body as well as the psychological aspects of your life. It enables you to tap into your body’s natural resources to strengthen and heal.
In this article, we will explore what yoga therapy is, what are its benefits, applications as well as precautions. We will also discuss how you can incorporate it into your daily life to balance the body and the mind and achieve well-being.
What is Yoga Therapy?
Yoga therapy is the application of a combination of physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation to create an effective healing and self-care program. It is a holistic form of complementary and alternative medicine to bring about optimal health and happiness.
In recent years it has been gaining increasing popularity amongst holistic therapies for its potential to help with a wide variety of health conditions including more serious medical cases. It is a form of mind-body therapy that focuses on integrating physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
What Are the Benefits of Yoga Therapy?
Yoga therapy can help physical ailments, such as breathing problems, fatigue, hypertension, etc. as well as long-term conditions, such as chronic pain, digestion problems, migraines, etc.
Its benefits are not limited to physical health, however. It can help mental health conditions as well. Studies have shown that yoga therapy reduces symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other psychological issues.
Through yoga therapy, you can manage your symptoms by dealing with them at the very root cause and thus finding balance, freedom, and happiness in your life.
What Are the Applications of Yoga Therapy?
One of the most common issues treated by yoga therapy is back pain, neck pain, and knee pain. It offers numerous ways of regulating the nervous system and helps you better cope with life’s challenges. Other common applications are to:
- Eliminate stress and tension,
- Remove fatigue,
- Cleanse your body,
- Strengthen your body and increase your fitness level,
- Improve your flexibility and mobility,
- Raise your mind and body awareness,
- Bring a long-lasting state of inner calmness and focus,
- And overall improve your health on all levels of your being.
The body of research shows its application for more serious health issues, such as:
Addiction, Anxiety, Asthma, Bronchitis, Cancer, Chronic fatigue, Chronic Pain, Cold, Constipation, Depression, Diabetes, Flatulence, Flu, Hemorrhoids, Headache, Heart Disorders, Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), Hypotension (Low Blood Pressure), Indigestion, Insomnia, Menstrual and Menopause Disorders, Migraines, Multiple Sclerosis, Neurasthenia, Obesity, Premenstrual Tension, Premature Aging, Prostate Troubles, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sciatica, Sexual Debility, Sinus Problems, Skin Diseases, Sore Throat, Stress and Tension, Stomach Acidity, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, and many other.
What Are the Types of Yoga Therapy?
There are several different yoga styles with their unique set of therapeutic benefits. Traditional Hatha Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, and Yoga Nidra are particularly therapeutic.
Traditional Hatha Yoga
Traditional Hatha Yoga is an ancient practice originating from India that was used to promote physical and emotional well-being as well as spiritual growth. It involves a series of physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation that are adapted to your needs. It also encompasses a disciplined lifestyle and correct moral conduct to save your energy and release you from any mind or body burdens.
Traditional Hatha Yoga has been long used as a form of therapy for any physical, psychological, or emotional issues to free and prepare the practitioner for a deeper spiritual practice. The practice helps to increase the capacity of the physical body, and build strength and flexibility, while also promoting a focused, calm, and peaceful state of consciousness.
Hatha Yoga strives to be progressive with modern times while maintaining a connection to traditional teachings. Today, the term Hatha is used in such a broad way that it is difficult to know what a particular Hatha Yoga class will involve. However, usually, it does incorporate poses, breathing exercises, and meditation, to help you achieve a state of balance and harmony.
Restorative yoga is a form of yoga that helps you restore the naturally balanced and relaxed state of your body. It does this by utilizing longer poses and deeper breathing. You also take the support of yoga props to enter into the poses with ease and be able to remain in them safely and comfortably for longer periods. This creates an environment conducive to focusing on yourself and your healing.
By allowing the body to relax, restorative yoga helps you reduce stress, tension, and fatigue. It can be used as a form of therapy due to its calming effects that deal with numerous health issues originating from stress and tension.
Iyengar yoga emphasizes proper alignment of all body parts in the poses and uses yoga props to help you achieve it. These yoga tools support and guide your body structure for the correct placement of all the bones, soft tissues, as well as organs.
Late B.K.S Iyengar, who was teaching for over 70 years, applied therapeutic variations of classical poses to many health problems. In his teachings, he emphasized backbends and inversions to treat difficult health issues.
Scientific research has shown that Iyengar yoga can be used as a therapy to treat complicated structural and systematic issues with great success. The precision and individualized approach of this method can be adapted for any condition.
Yoga Nidra (yogic or psychic sleep) uses guided meditation that makes you enter a deep state of conscious relaxation. During this practice, you can remain aware of your inner self while your senses, intellect, and emotions are put at rest.
It is a powerful tool for fast personal growth and very effective healing, not only for the body but also for the mind and soul. It recharges you with a high energy level, improves your focus and performance, as well as brings about a lasting state of inner peace.
It is very effective for psychosomatic disorders, which are physical health conditions that have mental or emotional causes. People with this type of condition experience physical symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and nausea, amongst many more serious issues, due to psychological distress.
By allowing the body and mind to relax deeply, Yoga Nidra restores balance in your life, leading to improved health, a greater sense of happiness, and a connection to your inner self. This technique has been found to be an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as promote a sense of contentment and well-being.
With regular practice, you can experience a profound sense of physical and mental rejuvenation, and even access states of higher consciousness. This practice recreates the broken link between the different parts of your being, bringing a sense of wholeness, life inspiration, fascination, and determination.
Yoga Nidra is also a low-risk treatment option for those who suffer from a variety of medical conditions that don’t permit them to move much. Regular practice can help to improve physical, mental, and emotional health.
How to Prepare for Yoga Therapy
Before beginning your self-healing practice you need to prepare your body and the things for safety, effectiveness, and comfort. You also need to become aware what are the different therapies with yoga available and which one suits you best.
• Eating a light meal a minimum 3 hours before the session
• Hydrating adequately
• Wearing comfortable clothing that breaths freely
• Making sure you have adequate space to move
• Ensuring there are no distractions
Essential Equipment (Yoga Props or Therapeutic Yoga Kit)
To perform yoga poses comfortably and safely you will require some essential equipment. This includes a yoga mat, a bolster, and yoga straps. Other yoga props include blocks, blankets, and cushions.
Research Different Types of Yoga for Therapy
Before consulting with a yoga therapist, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the appropriate yoga style for you. There are many different approaches with different focuses and goals, and it’s important to do your research to decide which is the best to take you toward improved health and well-being.
Choose Therapy Practices That Fit Your Needs
Once you have identified the type of yoga therapy that fits your needs, it’s time to start practicing. Your yoga therapist will be able to recommend specific yoga postures and other techniques that are tailored to your individual needs.
What Are the Techniques Used in Yoga Therapy
Yoga therapy uses body poses and exercises, conscious breathing, body cleansing, meditation, and relaxing techniques, as well as a promotion of behavioral and dietary changes in your lifestyle. In its wider variety of practices empowering the individual to progress toward optimal health, well-being, and better performance it also incorporates visualization, affirmation, chanting, and elements of Ayurveda.
Body Poses / Asanas (Structural Alignment, Placement of Bones, Muscles, and Organs in the Right Place and Giving Them Adequate Space)
Asanas strengthen the body and increase flexibility, balance, and overall level of fitness and stamina.
- Static Poses (without movement, held for longer) can be divided into Relaxing (restful) or Active (more demanding)
- Dynamic (in movement, i.e. going from one pose to another)
Awareness of Natural Breathing (Increasing Self-Awareness)
Breath awareness is a key component of the practice because it helps you go deeper into the poses and make them very restful as well as more effective.
The breath is the connection between your mind and body, and following its natural flow enables you to become calm and focused, stay longer and more aligned in the poses, as well as turn your attention inward to better facilitate your healing process.
Understanding the nature of inhalations and exhalations can help you progress faster in your self-healing practice. A breath coming in makes you feel what needs to be released, and a breath going out enables you to let it go. The therapeutic journey is about discovering your body from within and your natural breath is your best guide.
Breath Control / Breathing Exercises (Pranayama)
With yoga techniques such as breathing exercises or breath control, you work directly on the energetic level of your body to transform and purify it, increase its vitality, and regulate its hot/active and cold/passive energies.
With an ample variety of breathing techniques, you can pacify or stimulate the different functions of your organism and thus you can improve your mental and physical health.
Please note, that a very careful diagnosis of your health condition is an absolute prerequisite for using pranayama as your therapy. Nowadays due to the internet and information technology more secret and powerful methods are revealed easily to anyone, but in ancient times breathing practices were unveiled only to the physically and mentally prepared disciples.
Pranayama increases manifold or completely changes the pattern of your energy flow and is therefore a very powerful practice that brings dramatic shifts to your whole body system. It works on subtle levels of your being, and at first, you might not feel what exactly is happening.
Especially heating and stimulating breathing exercises can have long-term effects on your life, and incorrectly applied can even cause epilepsy or insomnia. Therefore, with pranayama, you need to be particularly careful, precise, and well-instructed in what you are doing.
Easier and safer pranayama like alternate nostril breathing could be practiced at the beginning to help you clear the mind, deepen the breath and increase your awareness level. However don’t push yourself, be gentle and careful to not exaggerate the counts within the rounds.
Yoga Kriya (Deep Body Cleansing)
More advanced healing yoga techniques include:
- Cleansing the sinus to promote better breathing, heal the nervous system, and even help insanity.
- Cleansing the digestive system at all heights (including stomach, higher and lower intestine, as well as colon and anus) to free the body from acidity and collection of morbid matter.
Relaxation Techniques (Removing Subconscious Blockages)
Scanning your body with awareness, deep and slow breathing, or verbal guidance by a yoga instructor are amongst many ways that you can use to let go of stress, recharge energy, and improve concentration and memory. Relaxing techniques calm your body, quieten your mind, and promote overall well-being.
Autogenic progressive muscle relaxation is one of the best methods to improve mental and physical health by eliminating chronic tensions and pains in your body. It can be practiced in Shavasana (the corpse pose) where your body comfortably rests on the back with arms and legs arranged symmetrically.
You focus on your breath while letting go of any thoughts or worries. At the beginning of such therapy sessions, you can tense and then relax different muscle groups to increase sensations in your body and release the major tension. And then you scan yourself with the awareness, progressively, visiting all the body parts in detail and letting go of any minute or greater chronic tensions discovered.
Meditation (Freedom from Stress)
Meditation is mind training to achieve lasting concentration, clarity, and emotional stability. It involves focused attention and awareness, which can be accomplished through a variety of techniques, such as maintaining focus on the breath, a particular sensation, object, or even simply paying attention to the present moment.
Meditation is usually practiced in sitting asanas, however, in specific yoga styles, it is also done in supine or inverted poses. It has a range of benefits, from improved concentration and creativity to reduced stress and anxiety.
Through regular meditation you get a deeper insight into your life, leading you to inner realizations and transformation including improvement of your health.
Visualization (Bringing about Positivity)
Visualization is a powerful technique based on the fact that the brain can be trained to focus and visualize certain images, events, or behaviors. You can use visualization meditation to reprogram your subconscious mind and thus bring transformation into your body functions or achieve your desired outcomes in life.
Visualization can use visual imagination or sensual memory. It can also be incorporated into yoga sessions with sound to create a calming or trance-inducing experience that has a very empowering and healing effect.
Affirmations (Changing Mindset)
Affirmations are an important tool in yoga therapy, as they help to reprogram the mind and create positive changes in the body. Reciting affirmations daily can have a powerful effect on both consciousness and subconsciousness, enabling individuals to evolve toward the desired health and life outcomes.
Positive affirmations decrease stress, improve health and well-being, and increase rates of success. It is important to make affirmations personal to your life for them to be most effective. They can be even recorded with your voice and listened to making it easier for you to break any negative mental patterns.
Positive statements can be related to health, self-evolution, personal goals, or even asking for blessings from higher intelligence.
They can be repeated every time at the beginning or the end of relaxation, meditation, or yogic sleep, to deeply resonate through your daily life.
Chanting (Repairing Nervous System)
Scientific research has established a factual relationship between the mantra chanting and its effects on the human mind and body. It has been shown that its rhythmic tones cause the left and right hemispheres of the brain to synchronize, switching on self-regulating and healing processes of both the chanting person as well as the listener. And it has been found to even have an impact on people with impaired hearing or organisms without auditory apparatus. These findings prove mantra chanting impact regardless of concentration or faith.
Mantras are very ancient and originate in Vedic times. They are thousands of years old, and no one knows their exact beginning. In yoga teachings, it is said that they were created by the rishis (the enlightened seers) to help humans overcome any obstacles in life and grow spiritually faster.
Mantra chanting is used in yoga to promote focus and intention. to heal, protect, and manifest desired outcomes.
People who are very musical relax and forget their worries more easily with chanting and rhythms. And they can find mantra chanting as a particularly befitting kind of practice to take the mind away to a place of beauty, far away from mundane problems, thus profoundly releasing stress and tension.
In yoga tradition chanting the AUM mantra is especially regularly practiced. This simplest mantra permeates all energetic levels in the body and mind, both gross and subtle, healing, empowering, and connecting you to higher intelligence.
Ayurveda (Ancient Medicine)
Yoga and Ayurveda are two ancient healing practices that share similar holistic principles. Ayurveda supports yoga practice by advocating, amongst many others, the use of herbs and body purification procedures. Also, the Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle principles greatly support the practice of yoga.
Similarly, yoga practice can be used to increase and speed up the effects of Ayurveda. For example, grounding practice of yoga standing poses can remove excess Vata dosha (causing bone porosity and stress disorders), cooling restful forward bending poses like downward facing hero pose can lower the excess of Pitta dosha (causing heart problems and acidity), whereas stimulating and invigorating back bending poses like inverted bow pose can diminish the excess of Kapha dosha (causing depression and obesity).
Ayurveda heals all the body systems (be it skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, digestive, urinary, endocrine, lymphatic, reproductive, or integumentary) by the careful regulation of the three above-mentioned doshas (tri-dosha).
Yoga techniques focused on regulating the doshas the process of healing is really fast and very successful.
Yoga and Ayurveda are complementary and supportive of each other, encouraging whole-body healing that includes physical, mental, and emotional health. It is like joining in tandem the 2 powerful weapons to fight disease.
How is Yoga Therapy Used?
- Diagnosis – First stage is to make a proper diagnosis to identify any physical, mental, or emotional issues. It is ineffective or even dangerous to prescribe a healing plan without going in-depth into your individual condition. This is to ensure that the techniques used will be appropriate, safe, and tailored to your specific needs.
- Designing a Program – Then a program of yoga poses, breathing, and relaxing techniques is created to help you alleviate the problems.
- Following the Program with Discipline for a Long-term – Lastly, the therapy program can have its positive effect only if it is followed precisely, regularly, and for a longer period. The health issues take longer to develop and likewise, they require time to dissolve.
Who Should Practice Yoga Therapy?
The application of yoga practices as therapy is suitable for people of all ages, genders, and physical abilities. It is very beneficial for people who are dealing with health issues, and injuries, as well as for those who want to improve their life quality, increase their strength and flexibility or need to relax and de-stress. It can also be used as a rehabilitative therapy for cancer survivors because learning and practicing yoga not only will improve overall health but bring deeper meaning to life as well.
Awareness-raising therapy is a self-empowering process and the science of yoga not only promotes self-care and encourages well-being, but it is also the medicine for the soul. Nowadays in our fast-paced world, we need something to slow down and make us look within, feel, hear, and understand our inner selves.
The teachings and practices of yoga are holistic and complementary and they address all levels of your being as well as all aspects of your life in great detail.
What to Expect from Yoga Therapy
Yoga therapy is a powerful practice that can help you take control of your health and life. However, only if you are intending to take yoga therapy seriously, which means practicing with discipline and regularity, can you expect the right results. Therapy is a process that takes time because it also took years to create an imbalance leading to an ailment.
Finding a Yoga Therapist
If you are interested to implement yoga as your healing program you might be looking for a certified yoga therapist.
Qualifications to Look For
When looking for a qualified yoga healer, you can look for certain credentials, such as certification from professional organizations or years of experience in the therapy field. It is also important to look for a person with:
- Proper training and experience in the arts of diagnosing and healing
- Knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, and pathology
- Understanding of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components of yoga teachings
It is also important to find someone who is patient, caring, and compassionate.
Certification or Credentialing and Professional Organizations
Yoga originates from India, and this is the only country where the Yoga Therapist Certificate is issued by the Government itself. The Indian Government Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy) sets high standards for certification and provides a directory of accredited yoga therapy practitioners
It is also helpful to look for recognized institutes that specialize in yoga therapy, such as The Yoga Institute, Mumbai, India (TYI) or Ramamani Yoga Institute in Pune, India (RYMYI). These institutes have a long history of treating patients and are dedicated to promoting healing yoga and provide a directory of qualified and experienced therapists.
What Is the Difference Between a Yoga Teacher and a Yoga Therapist?
A yoga teacher is someone who has received a certification or degree in teaching yoga and can share the fundamentals of yoga, such as poses, breathing exercises, and meditation. A yoga teacher may also offer personalized instruction to help students develop their practice.
A certified yoga therapist, on the other hand, is someone who has received additional education in the therapeutic aspects of yoga to be able to assess students health needs and create correct therapy plans tailored to particular physical and mental health issues.
Regular Yoga Practice vs Yoga Therapy Session
Both yoga and yoga as therapy focus on bringing balance to the body, self-care, and encouraging overall well-being. However, regular yoga is different from a therapy session, because the application of the teachings has different angles. Typical yoga might work for physical fitness, flexibility, and strength alone, whereas the therapeutic extent of yoga will also emphasize regulating all bodily functions.
How to Implement Yoga and Yoga Therapy in Your Life
Yoga can help you achieve well-being through the application of its techniques if you are willing to dedicate a little bit of time to it and do the necessary adjustments to your lifestyle as well.
To experience the positive effects of yoga you will need to practice several days per week, a minimum of 2-3 times and preferably every day. The truth is that frequent shorter sessions will benefit you more than even longer but occasional or irregular ones.
Additionally, a healthy diet and maintaining correct daily body rhythms conducive to better functioning, higher energy, and restfulness are a part of the yoga tradition. this means sleeping, resting, working, exercising, eating, etc. at the same times of the day every day. Your body doesn’t like shifting timings for its basic operations and falls sick and tired with irregularity. And it will of course affect your yoga practice.
If you set the practice schedule to try to keep the same days of the week for your sessions, as mentioned above your body functions cyclically and remembers specific times of activities be they short or long-term.
You can practice at home or join a yoga studio depending on your work and the availability of the services in the place where you live. Nowadays online classes are also a good option to consider.
If you seek out a yoga therapist to guide you in the creation of a yoga therapy program that is safe and suited to your situation you can consider the questions that we have answered in this article.
Yoga Therapy in Clinical Settings
Conditions That Can Be Benefited
Yoga therapy is increasingly being used in clinical settings as an adjunct therapy to help patients manage a wide variety of medical conditions and progress toward improved health. It also includes enhancing rehabilitation or speeding up recovery.
Commonly Used Techniques
Yoga therapy may easily apply specific body poses, relaxing techniques, breathing exercises, and meditation practices empowering individuals to progress toward health in clinical settings.
Working with Medical Professionals
Yoga therapists often collaborate with other medical doctors, physical therapists, and mental health professionals. Such a team approach helps to ensure that the patient is receiving comprehensive care to reach the healing goals with more success and faster.
Yoga is becoming increasingly popular as a way for promoting self-care and encouraging overall health, allowing you to reach lasting physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Yoga and yoga therapy intend to cultivate mindfulness and connection to yourself, recognize and dissolve negative or destructive patterns, and replace them with positive or constructive habits.
By learning to pay attention to your body sensations, breath flow, and inner insights, you become more present, satisfied, and progress in your life journey.
If you are interested in yoga therapy training and want to be a yoga healer, Beata Yoga Dhyan offers you yoga as a practice that has been proven to help thousands of people over the past 12 years.
Enquire via [email protected] for more information.
Beata Yoga Harmony is not intended to be a substitute for medical diagnosis, medication, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician or health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking medical advice because of something you have read on Beata Yoga Harmony.