What is Yoga Therapy?
Yoga is the uniting of mind, body and spirit through the use of breathing exercises, stretches, postures, and meditation. Alternative pain management strategies such as yoga help to enhance recovery that is too often limited to medications. Yoga is the perfect fusion of physical and spiritual elements and has profound benefits for acute and chronic pain. Diabetes, cancer, pregnancy, arthritis, back pain and heart problems are just a few of the conditions yoga helps improve. Yoga has also been found to be helpful in various drug and alcohol rehab centers as well as in trauma recovery.
Practice of Yoga
For more than 3,000 years the practice of yoga has been in existence. The word yoga means, “yoke”, or to form a union between the mind, body and spirit. The practice of yoga is not merely a form of exercise. Through yoga, the mental and spiritual aspects of oneself are brought out as well.
Types of Yoga
Each style of yoga benefits one differently. Some types of yoga benefit the physical aspect of the body while others focus more on the mind and its emotions. Types of yoga include:
- Bhakti Yoga
- Hatha Yoga
- Jnana Yoga
- Karma Yoga
- Kundalini Yoga
- Mantra Yoga
- Purna Yoga
- Raj Yoga
Yoga postures are far more than just a series of physical positions. Through these postures, mental awareness and spiritual development are also learned. A few of these postures are:
- Sit/Easy (Sukhasana)
- Mountain (Tadasana)
- Extension (Uttanasana II)
- Triangle (Trikonasana)
- Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
- Cobra (Bhujangasana)
- Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
- Head to Knee (Janu Shirshasana)
- Bridge (Sethu Bandhasa)
Yoga Flows (Vinyasas)
A yoga flow is a combination of various yoga postures all performed in a row. Breathing is to be simultaneous with the flow. Postures within the flow should gradually meld together into a perfect pattern. Some of these flows are:
- Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
- The Great Salutation (Maha Namaskar)
- Triangle/Warrior II
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga develops awareness and encourages us to pay attention to the core of our being instead of merely the surface. In yoga, the goal is to be conscious of each breath, muscle, movement, and posture. You focus your full attention on what you are doing and how you are doing it.
Becoming more aware of physical tension and mental or emotional stress is a huge step in personal development. Through practice and awareness, yoga helps develop a deeper connection with self. It also balances the body’s energy centers for optimum health, all the while enhancing strength, flexibility, and relaxation. This relaxation created by the practice of yoga has proven to be invaluable when incorporated into trauma treatment centers and eating disorder treatment clinics.
Yoga provides physical benefits as well – stretching and strengthening the major muscle groups as well as the deeper postural muscles. Flexibility, joint and spinal mobility, proper functioning of internal organs and overall health can all be improved with continued practice. Yoga is an ideal alternative pain management strategy because this mobility helps to alleviate the tension that can cause chronic pain. Trauma treatment centers often find yoga to be very beneficial because of its benefits in chronic pain, as this pain is sometimes caused by trauma. This practice of yoga is one of the most effective alternative pain management strategies available.