Yoga therapy is based on principles of mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, and yoga to promote health and healing. The therapeutic approach focuses on personalized assessment, goal setting, yoga practices, and lifestyle management for individuals. Unlike yoga, this practice focuses on the individual and their needs, whether it be mental, physical, or spiritual.
Yoga therapy aims to develop knowledge and realization through various yoga tools. For instance, these may include physical postures (asana), breathing practices (pranayama), sounds (mantra), hand movement (mudra), chanting, meditation, and other yogic rituals.
Self-awareness is an essential component of yoga therapy that focuses on healing different layers of the body, including physical, psycho-emotional, energetic, and spiritual. The practice focuses on your body as a multidimensional system, which includes body, mind, breath, emotion, intellect, and their mutual interaction.
History of Yoga Therapy
Although yoga therapy is based on the ancient Indian practice of yoga, it wasn’t recognized until the 1980s when Dr. Dean Ornish published a study on the topic.
The study uncovered how Ornish’s healthy lifestyle program could reverse heart disease. The program also included dietary changes and meditation as attributes for a healthy lifestyle. In 1990, Dr. Ornish’s program was approved by insurance companies as a method for managing and reversing heart disease.
In 1983, the Biomedical Yoga Trust was founded, launching more studies around yoga therapy and the practice itself. In 1989, the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) was founded and now hosts conferences, publishes journals and formally recognizes the practice of yoga therapy.
Today, yoga therapy is a common holistic healing practice used to relieve the symptoms of many health conditions including diabetes, respiratory diseases, insomnia, stress, depression, back pain, kidney disorders, and even cancer.
The Difference Between Yoga & Yoga Therapy
Although all types of yoga practices are therapeutic, yoga therapy focuses more on health and healing. Yoga does not create specific structure and content for students, instead, it focuses on the healing needs of each individual student and uses yogic tools to heal.
The practice of yoga itself takes a more generic approach to everyone in a class. The program meets the requirements of many students, if not all. On the other hand, yoga therapy focuses on processes that allow the therapist to create a more personalized approach that enables an individual to connect to his or her true source and alleviate any symptoms or illnesses.
The primary objective of yoga therapy includes reducing, managing, and eliminating symptoms that cause pain and suffering. It also aims to prevent the occurrence or reoccurrence of a particular disease or disorder.
Benefits of Yoga Therapy
Even though yoga therapy is a relatively new practice and phenomenon, researchers continue to dive into its benefits. As the number of certified yoga therapists continues to increase, we learn more about the impact of this holistic healing practice.
Yoga Therapy for Pain Relief
A 2011 study carried out by Catherine Woodyard highlighted that yoga therapy is the application of yoga practice to treat various health conditions. She stated that it helps prevent structural, emotional, physical, and spiritual pain.
The study found that yoga therapy can strengthen muscles, improve body flexibility, promote relaxation, and improve cardiovascular and respiratory functions. It is also an excellent way to treat addiction-related problems, stress, depression, and anxiety.
Woodyard further stated that yoga therapy had shown promising results in patients suffering from chronic back pain, sleep disturbances, and insomnia. She concluded that yoga therapy could enhance the overall health and quality of life for practitioners.
Yoga Therapy for Diabetes
A 2018 research study shows that yoga therapy can increase insulin receptors and their ability to bind to certain chemicals in diabetic patients. Not only does yoga therapy improves insulin kinetics, but it also reduces its fasting levels, leading to normalized insulin-to-glucose ratio.
The same study highlighted that yoga therapy could decrease fatty acids levels in cells to reduce insulin resistance and improve its sensitivity. When combined with deep breathing and meditation, yoga therapy can improve lung function, promote cellular immunity, and enhance lymphocyte migration in Type-II diabetes patients.
Yoga Therapy for Immunity
Yoga therapy’s principles have been equated to a higher quality of life. Studies report that yoga practices and yogic properties can increase muscle strength, lung capacity, cardiovascular activity, and more, thus resulting in a stronger, healthier you!
Another study highlighted that one month of yoga therapy could reduce anxiety and enhance cellular immunity in patients with HIV-1 infections.
Online Yoga Therapy You Can Try Right Now
Interested in specializing in or learning more about yoga therapy? There are many options, including online or physical workshops and certification programs. Inner Peace Yoga Therapy works with yoga teachers and health professionals to apply the teachings and practices of yoga therapy for client empowerment and healing. The school offers a variety of certifications, and a new virtual level one program will launch in May 2021.
Yoga therapy is a modern technique that uses the principles of ancient Indian yoga. It focuses more on therapeutic and healing processes instead of connecting mind, body, and spirit. The aim is to help patients improve their self-knowledge and deal with their particular illnesses.