Yoga is widely accepted as one of the best activities for physical and mental health, offering a wide range of benefits. This has made the discipline incredibly popular, with more people signing up for yoga classes than ever before. Of course, this widespread recognition of yoga hasn’t translated into a clear understanding of the different types of yoga, disciplines within yoga, and therapeutic applications of yoga. Yoga therapy or remedial yoga therapy is rapidly emerging as an important field within yoga and the health care system as well. So, let’s take a closer look at what it is and how it works.
What is Remedial Yoga Therapy?
Remedial yoga therapy is a specialised practice that is focused on the holistic treatment of ailments, whether acute or chronic, mental or physical. Yoga therapy can include a variety of approaches or a combination of techniques. These can include the use of physical poses or asanas, breathing exercises or pranayamas, meditation techniques, stress reduction and relaxation techniques, and mindfulness. But what makes remedial yoga therapy unique is that it also includes the use of the TCM meridian to balance the body. Depending on your health condition or the underlying cause of illness, a remedial yoga therapist will instruct you in the use of specific techniques or a combination of methods to restore balance in your body and mind.
What sets yoga therapy apart from standard yoga sessions is also the medium of instruction. While most yoga instructors will focus on teaching you various yoga poses and the appropriate sequences, a remedial yoga therapist is not so much an exercise instructor as a therapist. The yoga therapist is primarily concerned with training you in the application of specific yoga techniques that can be beneficial in the management of your health condition. These techniques are picked specifically to alleviate symptoms or relieve the underlying condition itself.
How Remedial Yoga Therapy Works
Unlike gym instructors and yoga teachers, remedial yoga therapists undergo rigorous training to provide patients with personalized care for specific health conditions. The relationship is not one of a teacher-student but of a therapist-patient. Yoga therapists are typically trained to help in the management of conditions like anxiety disorders, depression, chronic disorders like hypothyroidism or lupus, inflammatory disorders like chronic back pain or arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and so on. Yoga therapy is even used in clinical settings, with some hospitals using it as a complementary or adjunct therapy to support medical treatments. Aside from the specialised training and expertise that remedial yoga therapists have, yoga therapy sessions also offer personalised care in a private setting. This is absolutely essential for any treatment program, as every individual’s experience of a particular ailment is unique.
Remedial yoga therapy works at a holistic level, taking into account the mind, body, soul connection. The therapeutic process in the therapy is also empowering, as it encourages mindfulness or greater self-awareness and knowledge that can be used to address physical and mental challenges. Yoga therapy also takes into account the ancient yogic ideas of prana or energy that flow through all of us. The healing process takes into account this natural energy and explores the meridians of the body and chakras or energy centres to address blockages that can result in imbalances – with both physical and emotional manifestations. While much of this therapy is based on theoretical knowledge from ancient texts, there is also support from modern scientific sources.
There’s no denying the healing and strengthening effect of the various yoga postures or asanas. Different poses are known to target specific muscles and stimulate internal organs, helping relieve a range of conditions when targeted appropriately. What is often overlooked, however, is the role of yogic breathing exercises and meditation. These techniques have proven therapeutic benefits, with research showing increases in GABA neurotransmitter levels, which tend to be low in individuals afflicted with mental health problems like depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD. As GABA levels are also low in individuals battling addictions, yoga therapy is also regarded as potentially beneficial in the treatment of addictions.
Aside from the psychological health benefits that yoga is most noted for, studies also show that yoga therapy can help in the management of chronic pain disorders, from arthritic disease to inflammatory bowel syndrome. A study conducted among patients afflicted with carpal tunnel syndrome found that individuals found greater improvement in grip strength and pain reduction with yoga therapy, as compared to the use of wrist splints. Similarly, yoga has been proposed as a remedial therapy for IBS, as it can relieve comorbidities like anxiety, depression, and fatigue; this can subsequently relieve IBS symptoms because of the role of the brain-gut axis in such ailments.
It would be impossible to touch upon all of the ways in which remedial yoga therapy works here and we’ve just touched the surface. If you or a loved one suffers from an ailment, especially a chronic disorder, it would be a good idea to find a centre that offers remedial yoga therapy in your area. Yoga therapy is inexpensive and extremely effective if you find the right therapist.