Yoga Therapy

When people become injured, a doctor often recommends physical therapy - it's Western medicine's traditional fix. What if there were a more effective way to treat injuries and illnesses, perhaps even preventing some of them? Most people know that practicing yoga results in a more flexible body and a more relaxed state of being. There is rising evidence that using yoga with a therapeutic intention works. There is even talk of recovery from seemingly incurable illnesses.

People Who Can Benefit from Yoga Therapy

It's tempting to say everyone can benefit from yoga therapy, but this practice is yoga approached with the intention of healing; and not everyone has that intention. Yoga is about harnessing the energy within by learning to understand it, recognize it, and control it.

According to yoga beliefs, the body distributes energy across seven chakras, each corresponding to a major organ or gland and also to emotions and mental health. Illness comes from blocked energy. Yoga combats the blockages, leading to better health and healing. Yoga therapists combine many styles of yoga to find the most beneficial treatment for a specific condition.

Yoga therapy can benefit people with:

  • Depression - increases GABA levels, which decreases depression;

  • Back pain - regular yoga reduces back pain, yoga relief lasts longer than physical therapy relief, and the need for pain medication decreases;

  • Heart disease - lowers blood pressure, resting heart rate, and cholesterol, and also slows atherosclerosis progression;

  • Breast cancer - reduces pain during treatment and after surgery;

  • Menopause symptoms - decreases frequency of hot flashes;

  • Anxiety - yogic breathing helps thwart panic attacks and reduce anxiety; and

  • AIDS and cancer - there are some indications that deep yoga applications can aid people with these very serious conditions.

Yoga therapy can also help prevent some conditions. Yoga integrates the mind, body, and spirit. With science recognizing the interrelatedness of the universe, doctors are taking notice of yoga as a reputable treatment option.

A Word of Caution

Attending a yoga class is not yoga therapy. There is no "one treatment fits all" for a condition. It is vital to work with a trained and knowledgeable yoga therapist who will design therapy geared to the patient's specific problem and body type. There should also be close monitoring with adjustments as needed. Reading a book and going it alone is very dangerous - people have made their conditions worse or severely injured themselves.

Amol Gharte