Yoga is a process of transformation, a system for shedding dysfunctional patterns and activating your untapped potential. For those people who want a more personalised approach to their own yoga practice, yoga therapy is a wonderful option to precisely address specific areas you would like to improve.
Yoga therapy is a specialised form of rehabilitation which is adapted and refined to suit each individual. It is truly holistic in that it encompasses all aspects of life – including body, breath, mind, food/nutrition, habits and your environment.
As an example, you might present with neck and shoulder tension from long hours working on the computer and expect to receive a stretching program. But your unique yoga therapy program might actually comprise more breath like practices to calm down your nervous system and make you more aware of how you really feel in your body.
GOALS OF YOGA THERAPY
The ultimate goal of yoga therapy is to lead to a sense of “reintegration.”
Asana practice is the physical discipline of yoga that helps identify your unique structural challenges and movement patterns. Asana is used to reintegrate the body structurally.
“Reintegration is the process of bringing us back into a state of clarity. It is the state of changing a wandering mind into a centred one, a wanting mind into a contented one, a self-indulging mind into a self-fulfilling one. It is a process called yoga.” (A.G. Mohan)
Firstly, structural integration is addressed by the process of asana (physical yoga postures).
Our bodies are structures that have been influenced since infancy by our birth, our movement patterns, our choice of work/sports, the level of our activity, previous injuries and so on. One’s structure affects one’s ability to function.
There is a famous quote that says: “If you can breathe you can do yoga….”
Yoga Therapy is a process of personal refinement.
Yoga is a process of transformation, a system for shedding dysfunctional patterns and activating your untapped potential. An asana practice is a tool for identifying your unique structural challenges and movement patterns. But it’s just the beginning of the story.
An Example of Yoga Therapy:
Something we see often is backache, in which it becomes difficult to function well mechanically, so that even performing routine tasks such as sitting or lifting things may become painful. Additionally, physiological functions such as normal digestion or breathing may be hindered, sometimes without even being aware of these changes.
The backache may leave you physiologically debilitated by depression, fatigue, and lethargy, all of which have their own negative social consequences.
A specialised asana practice can help to reduce and manage your back pain. Yoga Therapy also incorporates proper breathing and mental concentration into these postures so as to maintain a fully integrated approach.
Yoga philosophy states that functional integration exists when the energy flow in one’s system is in order. When our energy is focused we become centred and integrated.
We can affect the state of this energy flow through:
- What we eat
- Our personal disciplines and habits
- The behaviour of our senses
- And particularly through our breath.
Here, we return to functional goals, for example, no pain while sitting at work, or throwing the ball to your dog, or surfing for greater than 2 hours without shoulder or back pain.
By using different movements and postures, Yoga Therapy uses the physical body as the primary focus for integration with great respect for the connection of body, breath and mind.