“Yoga Therapy is a holistic approach to health and well-being. It includes mindful breathing, gentle and supported yoga postures, anatomy education, and meditation. Yoga therapists are trained to work with clients experiencing injury, illness, and mental health issues. Rather than diagnose or try to treat medical conditions, we use the evidence-based tools and techniques of yoga to cultivate an integration of the body, mind, and spirit.” ~ Ajna Yoga
Yoga therapy can address a variety of concerns to increase overall well-being. Chronic pain, mental health, illness support, healthy aging, and neurologic issues. It is considered a newer profession in the West and is different from regular yoga classes, in that a more individual assesment to address specific conerns, cultivating practices that are tailored to the clients goals are offered. The individual is empowered with self-healing through the therapeutic relationship.
In a one on one Yoga Therapy class:
• The pace will be slow
• Participants often will have injuries and/or health issues
• There is an emphasis placed on breathing and connecting breath to movement
• The focus is on relaxation and as opposed to complex yoga postures
• Poses will be modified for participants based on their individual needs
Beyond the beneficial effects of strengthening and stretching the body, yoga improves the functioning of the nervous system. Gentle yoga triggers the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), resulting in the relaxation response. Breathing slows and is directed to the belly, the heart rate and the blood pressure decrease, and blood flow returns to the digestive and reproductive organs.
Yoga tools teach the body to put healthy stress on the body, and then trains the body to relax. A well-balanced yoga practice alternately challenges and gives rest to the body, which allows us to bring greater balance into our daily lives.
Meditation can decrease the brain’s sensitivity to incoming pain signals from the body (Orme-Johnson et al. 2006). Meditation on forgiveness has been shown to reduce chronic back pain and improve physical function (Carson et al, 2005). The effects of yoga, meditation, and pranayama were first shown to manage health problems caused by stress by Dr. Kabat-Zinn in his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). The MBSR program started in the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in 1979, and is now offered in over 200 medical centres, hospitals, and clinics around the world. MBSR combines breathing, body scanning, meditation, and yoga. Many Yoga Therapy models are based on this work.
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