What is Yoga Therapy?
At Ashtanga Yoga Newcastle we recognise that a one-size-fits all approach to yoga, while sometimes beneficial in the initial stages, ultimately needs to be expanded into a practice tailored to the individual. Yoga as a practice is highly therapeutic and empowering when delivered and practiced in this bespoke fashion.
Yoga Therapy uses particular yoga practices and the known benefits of those practices to treat specific physical and mental health conditions. The Yoga Therapist gears the practice to the individual or the group based on their specific health condition or symptoms.
So, rather than the yoga student fitting themselves into the same poses and sequences as everyone else in the class, a yoga therapy student does a practice that is customized for them and/or their particularly health condition.
How is yoga therapy used?
Yoga therapy aligns the unique and precise health needs of the client with yoga practices which the yoga tradition and also medical science find to have particular curative effects.
In yoga therapy a personal practice is prescribed according to the physical, emotional and physiological needs as well as the circumstances of the individual. That is, a practice may be designed simply to maintain health and fitness, or to help remedy asthma, a back or knee problem, a hormonal issue, an emotional disorder, or a chronic physical or psychological condition.
For example, with back pain there are specific yoga positions and postures for strengthening and supporting the back and even soothing the symptoms of a herniated disc. For anxiety and panic attacks, there are specialized ways of regulating the nervous system and downgrading the fear (flight and fight) response.
And for heart disease, yoga based interventions such as the program development by Cardiologist Dr. Dean Ornish have been shown to reverse the effects of the condition. This is just to name a few.
A variety of applications
Which conditions have evidence supporting the use of Yoga Therapy?
Yoga Therapy can be used to treat:
Mental Health Conditions:
- Panic Attacks
- Eating Disorders
- Post-Natal Depression
- Back Pain
- High Blood Pressure
- Brain Injury
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Heart Disease
Who would benefit?
Yoga Therapy is suitable for everybody regardless of age, fitness, state of health or belief system. It is a common misconception that yoga is only for the fit and able. The reality is that almost the whole spectrum of human conditions are able to be accommodated by an appropriate and intelligent practice. Even a person with severe physical restrictions can do, and will benefit from yoga, physically, physiologically, and emotionally.
Use in conjunction with other treatments
The Yoga Therapy approach works very well in conjunction with other types of therapy, both mainstream and complementary. The practices prescribed in yoga therapy can be used alongside other modalities very easily and clients are encouraged to continue any other forms of treatment they are currently undertaking for as long they find them beneficial.
What can I expect in a session?
- The first time you talk with or meet your Yoga Therapist you will discuss your unique needs and be able to ask any questions you have about the approach and the benefits for your condition or circumstances.
- During the first session your Yoga Therapist will work with you and develop a preliminary outline plan for the sessions and also a plan of daily practice. The therapist will usually recommend a minimum of six sessions to begin with. Your plan will typically include a combination of elements specific to you including asana (yoga postures), pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation.
- Following the outline plan developed in the first session each future session can then be tailored to how you are progressing with the practices and how your condition is presenting on that particular day.