Have you ever considered Yoga as a treatment option? A treatment not only for your body but for your mind and soul too? Well… Yoga Therapy is just that!
What is Yoga Therapy?
According to the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT):
‘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’
Yoga Therapy can be identified as a type of Mind-Body Therapy (MBT) which focuses on the interaction between the mind, body, and spirit and specifically the ways in which emotional, mental, social, and spiritual factors can directly impact health. MBT can also include therapeutic Pilates, Qigong, hypnotherapy, and meditation.
Yoga Therapy is multidimensional and very adaptive to the individual need, providing a truly holistic approach to health and happiness. Practices may include adapted yoga postures, specific breathing exercises, meditation, and guided imagery to improve mental and physical health.
In modern day society there seems to be a disconnect between the mind and the body. We have busy lives and often our health is the last on the list until a problem arises. This disconnection, or poor self-awareness, can have a direct impact on physical and mental health.
For example, it may cause imbalances in the body physically which then manifest as pain. Poor self-awareness reduces our ability to self-manage problems which can then lead to a worsening health conditions or chronicity of existing ailments. Recovery and rehabilitation potential are then limited. People may result in heavy reliance on pharmacological options leading to an endless cycle of mismanagement an overall reduced quality of life.
As a Physiotherapist, I have seen how treating patients on a purely physical level is often unsuccessful. The mind is incredibly powerful and thus an integral part of health.
In Physiotherapy training we learn to incorporate the mind into a holistic approach to assessment and treatment. This means assessing and treating every patient as a complex individual with many associated factors. During my Yoga teacher training, I was struck by the overlap between Physiotherapy and Yoga. Superficially, both require an in-depth knowledge of anatomy and physical function of the body, but both also stress the importance and promotion of self-awareness and the autonomy to look after your own physical and mental health.
Yoga teaches us to connect the mind with the body and the breath, and Physiotherapy is about managing and looking after your body through autonomy and self-awareness. By connecting the mind to the body, we become engaged with our physical function and ultimately, our physical and mental health.
Using both the teachings of Yoga, and the knowledge of Physiotherapeutic management, Yoga Therapy can be a very powerful tool to ameliorate health and wellbeing.
Bridging the gap between Yoga and Healthcare is something I am very passionate about and aspire to be a part of. I recently studied for an MSc at Cardiff University and adapted my Advanced Physiotherapy programme to the use of Yoga Therapy within my practice. My dissertation focused specifically on using Yoga Therapy for chronic MSK pain and looked at the barriers and facilitators to using Yoga Therapy within Healthcare. One of my findings was the lack of understanding of both what Yoga Therapy is and its benefits which causes many to be put off from using Yoga Therapy as a treatment option.
I hope that this blog helps people to consider the power of Yoga when planning their health management, or better yet planted a seed!
The Minded Institute https://themindedinstitute.com
International Journal of Yoga Therapy (IJYT) https://iaytjournals.org/. (Indexed on Medline)
Yoga International https://yogainternational.com/
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