It’s widely known that regularly practising yoga is useful for relaxing. However, these benefits are nothing in comparison to what yoga therapy, a discipline designed to aid recovery, can do.

With mediation, poses, and intense relation, yoga therapy is an art that blends yoga (Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, and Iyengar Yoga, etc.) with a therapeutic philosophy. Thus, those who do it can get stronger after each session.

In this article, Superprof is looking at the physical and mental benefits of yoga therapy, what Pranayama (breathing exercises) and Asanas (poses) are, and how it can be used to help patients recover from physical and mental illness.

How Does Yoga Therapy Work?

The term yoga therapy was created in 1970 by Doctor Bernard Auriol. He was looking for a way to treat psychiatric patients using the ancient Indian art of yoga and conducted a study as part of his thesis that would form the foundation of the benefits of yoga therapy.

How does yoga therapy work?
Whether you do group sessions or private yoga therapy, you can reconnect with yourself. (Source: janeb13)

You can define yoga thus:

“Yoga therapy is the specific use of yoga techniques to prevent and treat certain physical or mental conditions.”

You have to consider it as a complement to modern medical treatments and not some kind of miracle cure. However, don’t underestimate the physical and psychological benefits of it. Yoga can greatly increase your well-being.

There are several methods and techniques involved in yoga therapy:

  • Asanas (yoga poses)
  • Pranayama (controlled breathing)
  • Mudras (symbolic practices)
  • Stretches
  • Shavasana (relaxation)
  • Meditation

By regularly practising either with or without a yoga teacher, you can alleviate pain, tone muscle, and improve your physical and mental well-being. Furthermore, yoga therapy is for people of all ages.

In reality, yoga therapy adapts to the patient and not the other way round. Each yoga therapy treatment is personalised according to the patient’s objectives: recovering from an illness, relaxation, training their body, etc. The discipline is based on around 50 fundamental yoga practices.

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The Physical Benefits of Yoga Therapy

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” - Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

This quote perfectly sums up yoga therapy. Anyone can do yoga therapy. Thus, most sequences are very simple since the objective isn’t to tone up but rather regenerate and recover.

What are the physical benefits of yoga therapy?
Just like with traditional yoga, yoga therapy can help you improve your physique and physical fitness. (Source: AndiP)

If you go to a yoga centre for an individual class or group class, you’ll probably do a more physical brand of yoga and you’ll slowly strengthen your body and tone up. Similarly, you’ll get more flexible and limber.

Yoga therapy, however, is aimed at those recovering from a physical condition. For example, someone with back pain or respiratory problems will be looking to use yoga therapy to recover rather than tone up.

Yoga therapy can be used to help with:

  • Hypertension
  • Back pain
  • Internal problems
  • Sciatica
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic pain

You may strengthen your muscles as a result but the main goal is to feel better. There are a lot of benefits to physical exercise, especially if you do it regularly!

Learn to Relax with Yoga Therapy

Yoga therapy is a great way to learn to let go of everyday stress. This is why yoga has become so popular. Through meditation and breathing exercises, a yogi can achieve mindfulness.

Breathing is another fundamental part of yoga therapy:

“Respiration being disturbed, the mind becomes disturbed. By restraining respiration, the Yogi gets steadiness of mind. So long as the (breathing) air stays in the body, it is called life. Death consists in the passing out of the (breathing) air. It is, therefore, necessary to restrain the breath.”

What are the mental benefits of yoga therapy?
Yoga therapy is a great way to manage stress and improve your mental wellbeing. (Source: Ataner007)

Yoga therapy focuses on breathing to manage stress and looks to align the body and emotions for the benefit of the patient. Thus, they become peaceful, which helps them to get better. It also give the patient the tools to strengthen themselves from within.

Yoga therapy is used for psychological conditions, too. For example, it can be used to help those who have trouble sleeping and get to the root of problems such as insomnia or sleep paralysis.

Yoga therapy can be used in conjunction with treatments for chronic migraines, Parkinson’s disease, hyperactivity, or anxiety attacks. The person’s age doesn’t matter, either. You don’t need to be young and supple to meditate.

Yoga therapy works on the nervous system and can be useful for chronic illnesses, mental health, or preventing problems. Again, yoga therapy is adapted to each patient; there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Yoga and meditation are at the heart of yoga therapy and allow the patient to focus on the present, rediscover their energy, and save it through relaxation techniques. Again, it complements the treatment rather than replacing it.

Living a Healthy Lifestyle with Yoga Therapy

“Take care of your body so that your soul will want to stay in it...” - Indian Proverb

How can you improve your lifestyle with yoga therapy?
In addition to the physical and mental benefits of yoga therapy, its teaching will also help you improve your lifestyle. (Source: diapicard)

Yoga therapy is useless if you don’t live a healthy lifestyle outside of your sessions. In order to balance your life, there are a few aspects of your life that you need to think about: lifestyle, diet, relationships, exercise, and mental health. Yoga therapy is a great way to improve several aspects of your life.

It doesn’t matter what your goal is, yoga therapy requires a few changes to your lifestyle that will help you prevent other problems requiring modern medicine. Physical exercise is a great way to fight stress and manage your digestive system, for example.

Generally, yoga therapy allows you to improve physically. Sessions with a yoga therapist will help you improve your body and live a healthier lifestyle, eat better, exercise, and have better relationships. It’s a holistic discipline that takes into account several aspects of your life. Yoga therapy will involve you putting in the effort outside of your sessions if you really want to see the benefits. This “homework” may involve meditation, diet, exercise, or just moments of self-reflection. Finally, keep in mind that if you practise yoga therapy, your therapist will adapt the exercises to you. It may take a while before you see any change, but you need to be patient when it comes to taking care of your body.

Now you should know a bit more about the benefits of yoga therapy. You can learn more about it by reading our other articles. Similarly, you can also get private tutorials from one of the many experienced and talented yoga teachers and tutors on Superprof! There are many different types of yoga including Ashtanga Yoga, Bikram Yoga, and Power Yoga so make sure you see which is right for you.

There are a lot of different types of yoga available and three main types of yoga tutorial available on Superprof: face-to-face, online, and group. Each type of tutorial comes with a set of pros and cons and what's right for one person may not be right for another. You need to think carefully about choosing the right tutor and the right type of private tutorial.

Face-to-face tutorials are between you and your tutor; there's nobody else there. This is great if you require highly-tailored yoga therapy, for example. However, as a bespoke and tailored service, these tutorials tend to be the most costly per hour. With your tutor dedicating every minute of the session to you, they're also the most cost-effective type of tutorial.

Online tutorials, while usually better for academic subjects, can be quite useful if you're on a budget. Since the tutor doesn't have to travel and can also schedule more sessions per week, they have the potential to earn more and spend less and can charge a more competitive rate for their tutorials. If you prefer a hands-on approach, these tutorials won't be for you, but if you have a decent webcam, microphone, and internet connection, you can get quality and tailored tutorials without having to break the bank.

Finally, group tutorials are similar to traditional yoga therapy sessions and you won't be the only person there. With multiple attendees footing the bill, these tend to be cheaper per person per hour than the other types of tutorial but it does mean that the lessons won't be tailored to you. Since most yoga therapy is geared towards a specific condition or ailment, most of you there will have the same needs and goals. This means you can all benefit from affordable private tutoring and yoga therapy and maybe even make some new friends.

Have a look around on the website for different tutors and make sure you make the most of the tutors that offer the first hour of tuition for free!

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Daniel