Yoga Therapy is quite a new discipline, combining the Ayurvedic Science and modern medicine, along with the traditional form of Hatha Yoga and meditation. Why Hatha Yoga specifically, you may wonder?! Because this type of yoga tailors to the individuals’ needs of people with health problems, with simple postures (asanas), breathing, relaxation and meditation practices, while considering the medical diagnosis and holistic factors. It emphasizes Mind – Body integration, extended awareness and the cultivation of a sense of harmony with the rest of life. Yoga Therapy can be applied to many chronic conditions, along with other complementary therapies.
Yoga Sessions vs. Yoga Therapy
What Yoga Therapy actually is? All Yoga is Therapeutic by Essence. However, there is a difference between yoga sessions and yoga therapy. Yoga therapy is the adaptation of Yoga to a particular set of people with health issues, such as Coronary Heart Diseases, management of Diabetes, Hypertensive Clients, Obesity and all the other Common Disorders i.e. Hormone Imbalance, Sleeping Disorder. Yoga Therapy tailors yoga to Individuals, while taking into consideration their medical condition, constitution, and life situation. While Yoga Therapy is rather a more specialized field, it still goes along the basic principles and aims of Yoga. Therapy Yoga is based on the holistic therapeutic concept, which includes a balanced set of practices that calm and vitalize the mind and body, as well as acting on diseased parts.
According to Ayurveda, India's traditional medical system, each one of us has an inborn constitution, or prakruti, that shapes our bodies, minds, and predilections. Most yoga teachers have some knowledge on Ayurveda and the notion of the basic constitutional types (doshas) of kapha, pitta, and vata. According to the Ayurvedic Practitioner Swami Shivananda, the Sanskrit word "dosha" literally means "that which becomes imbalanced." Disease begins with the accumulation of one or more doshas.
The three doshas, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, are three mind-body operators that govern the body's functioning. Though at the basis of the physical body, the doshas themselves are not physical — they are principles of intelligence. When the three doshas are in balance, the person enjoys good health. However, through imbalanced diet, lifestyle, and exposure to stress and environmental factors, one or more of the doshas can begin to become imbalanced. The first stage of this imbalance is that the dosha increases in quantity, or "accumulates." Ayurveda also holds that people of different constitutions are prone to diseases that reflect the ways the doshas become imbalanced.
The intention changes in yoga therapy sessions for individuals or groups with specific conditions. After an appropriate intake and assessment, therapists will often focus on the specific symptoms that trouble their clients and identify methods to help them manage symptoms like pain or sleeplessness. Additionally, the therapist empowers clients to take a more active role in their self-care. The therapist’s job is less about teaching yogic techniques and more about helping clients to overcome their challenges and gain independence. The job of the therapist here, represents a different focus, a different kind of education, and an exceptionally different skill set.
Yoga is used for the treatment of cancer patients to decrease depression, insomnia, pain, and fatigue and increase anxiety control. Yoga's ability to improve cognitive functions and reduce stress makes it appealing in the treatment of schizophrenia,as well, because of its association with cognitive deficits and stress related relapse. In one study, at the end of 4 months those patients treated with yoga were better in their social and occupational functions and quality of life.
Overall, studies of the effects of yoga on heart disease suggest that yoga reduce high blood pressure, improve symptoms of heart failure, enhance cardiac rehabilitation, and lower cardiovascular risk factors. Long-term yoga practitioners have reported musculoskeletal and mental health improvements, as well reduced symptoms of asthma in asthmatics. While yoga by itself can alleviate a number of problems, it is particularly effective as a complement to other alternative and conventional forms of health. Studies suggest, for example, that yoga therapy can subsidize the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments for people with cancer and facilitate faster recovery after bypass surgery. In clinical trials, many patients with asthma, type II diabetes (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes), or high blood pressure who began a regular practice of yoga were able to either lower their drug dosage, or eliminate some pills entirely.
Yoga alone should not be substitute for appropriate medication or psychotherapy. However, in situations where a patient is at risk of an illness but does not need intensive therapy, yogic practices may forestall or even prevent progression to the point where medical therapy is needed. It is also important to remember that not all yoga is appropriate for all patients and that yoga therapy is different than simply taking a group yoga class where the yoga instructor may be unaware of an individual student’s health concerns or problems. Most certified yoga teachers, or instructors, have received some training in anatomy and physiology; however, this training can be quite varied and is not equivalent to the training required by the yoga therapist or healthcare practitioner. As noted previously, yoga therapy, different from a yoga class, starts with a detailed history and physical examination and assessment from the health practitioner.
Here you can also enjoy a video on the health benefits of yoga and yoga therapy: