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Yoga Therapy - Improving Chronic Health Conditions

Updated: Oct 30, 2022

Yoga as Therapy has been used thousands of years in the founding countries and cultures. It was common knowledge that daily practice improves physical health and keeps the mind strong and resilient. However, it was in 1920 that Swami Kuvalyanada created the phase "Yoga Therapy" and stated openly that he believed Yoga could make physical and physiological changes in a person that could benefit those with injuries and illness.


What Is Yoga Therapy and Is It Different from Standard Yoga.


Yoga Therapy is different from Hatha, Vinyasa, and other styles of Yoga because it is usually taught in private classes for individuals or small groups of individuals with the same or similar condition. Yoga Therapy uses a combination of different facets of Yoga to target areas of the body that require support depending on the condition being treated.


These tools are:


· Postures (Asana)

· Gestures (Mundra)

· Relaxation (Restorative Yoga)

· Meditation (Savasana and guided Savasana)

· Lifestyle Guidance and Dietary Changes.


The International Association of Yoga Therapy States:


"Yoga Therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress towards improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of Yoga."

For example, a person suffering from chronic stress may have chronic inflammation, excessive cortisol, insomnia, stomach, indigestion issues, migraines, or chronic headaches. Therefore, Yoga Therapy would take a holistic approach to treatment, and a specialized Yoga Therapist would incorporate a class that uses the tools to assist this condition specifically. For example, applying Asana (postures) assists the gut and digestion, usually supine twists, happy baby, and stretches of the midriff. Also, applying inverted postures to improve circulation to the brain and heart, such as the downward dog, bridge pose, hero pose, and forward folds. These postures with long holds and specific pranayama (breathing) and Mundra (gestures) and combined breath and mudras will empower the person to learn techniques that quiet a worried mind to assist with sleep and teach the mind not to overthink. In addition, releasing muscle tension that may be causing headaches assists with gut health, decreasing cortisol and chronic inflammation.


What Conditions can Yoga Therapy Assist with?


Yoga can assist with many illnesses and conditions simply by improving the overall physical and mental health of a person; however, Yoga Therapy specifically targets some particular conditions and has been able to assist with:


Mental Health Conditions

1. Depression

2. Anxiety

3. Stress

4. PTSD

5. ADHD

6. Schizophrenia

7. Addiction

8. Eating Disorders

9. Post-Natal Depression

10. Chronic Burnout


Physical Conditions


1. Autoimmune diseases that incorporate inflammation.

2. Brain Injuries.

3. Parkinson's.

4. Alzheimer's.

5. Asthma and COPD.

6. Diabetes.

7. High Blood Pressure.

8. Skeletal Issues and Injuries.

9. IBS.


Yoga Therapy is often recommended for these conditions in the UK and America to the point that the NHS covers some treatments with Yoga. In addition, some insurances in America also cover it as a legitimate treatment for the above conditions. In Australia, the NDIS supports Yoga Therapy as a treatment for specific conditions.


Can All Yoga Teachers Hold a Yoga Therapy Class?


Yoga Instructors must complete specific courses, be certified by the International Association of Yoga, and continue their education while continuing to teach. If you are considering Yoga Therapy as a further asset to your studio, or you wish to utilize it as a treatment for a condition that you wish to reduce the symptoms of or take control of, ensure that you are seeing a fully qualified Yoga Therapist. This will give you the complete in-depth treatment that will bring you the optimum desired results for your condition.


International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT)

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