3 Reasons to Try Yoga Therapy

Yoga therapy may help with both mental and physical healing. Here are 3 signs that it might be right for you…

Yoga can be a great way to relax and de-stress, improve flexibility and functional strength, and even improve your mental health. But besides these many benefits, did you know that yoga can also help to complement modern healing modalities such as talk therapy or physical therapy? Yoga therapy is a specialized form of yoga that involves working one-on-one with a specially trained yoga therapist.

These sessions can provide both physical and mental healing for conditions ranging from depression and anxiety, to rehabilitation after surgery, to diabetes management.

If you are looking into yoga therapy, below are a few reasons why it might be right for you:

1.) You value more collaborative, personalized health care

According to yoga therapist Ingrid Yang, MD, you should seek out a yoga therapist when you want to be more active in your own health care. “Yoga therapy is patient-centered care,” Yang says. “Yoga therapy interventions are a co-creation between the therapist and the patient, so the patient has ownership of the plan, instead of just being told to take this pill, or do that pose.”

Evan Soroka, a certified yoga therapist, 500-hour trained yoga teacher, and the creator of Soroka Yoga Therapy, based in Aspen, Colorado, agrees…

“Yoga therapy is about understanding yourself, understanding your needs, and understanding what’s out of balance and how to bring it back into balance…Yoga therapy takes the tools, practices, and philosophy of yoga, and tailors them specifically to a person or condition.”

As a yoga therapist, Soroka helps people manage physical pain from injury or disease, develop customized practices for healthy aging, address neurological issues, and much more. But her specialty is working with people who have diabetes. With their input, she creates yoga-based practices to help diabetic clients manage blood sugar levels and feel more in control of their lives. She connects the biology, physiology, and psychology of diabetes to yoga, using spinal movement, breathing techniques, and meditations to help clients feel empowered to take charge of their own self-care.


2.) You want to get to the root of the problem

Yoga therapy may be for you, too, if you’re interested in getting to the root of your physical and mental health issues, instead of just treating the symptoms. “The people I work with are drawn to the whole-person perspective,” says Marsha Banks-Harold, a certified yoga therapist and trauma-sensitive yoga facilitator.

Banks-Harold, also the owner of PIES Fitness Yoga Studio and Holistic Yoga Therapy School in Alexandria, Virginia, practices and teaches yoga therapy using a kosha-based model. The koshas are the energetic layers, or sheaths, that make up a whole person, including the physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and pranic elements of existence.

For example, Banks-Harold works with cancer survivors at a local hospital who are suffering on multiple levels. Some may be recovering from surgery or chemotherapy, while also working with a stage four diagnosis and not knowing how much longer they have to live… Their yoga therapy plan may include relief from physical symptoms of pain and exhaustion, but also the psychological work of dealing with grief and loss.

Or maybe you deal with regular migraines and want to understand why. “Yoga therapy will help relax the tension in your neck fascia and help you breathe better and improve vasodilation to decrease migraine symptoms,” says Yang. “But it will also also get to the root cause, asking where in your journey you experienced wounding that could exacerbate or originate these symptoms…”

3.) You believe integrative health care works

Yoga therapists integrate addressing biomedical pathologies with psychological support to bring balance to the body and mind. And modern Western science is now backing this time-tested tradition.

Every day there is more peer-reviewed science supporting the ways yoga can help with everything from decreasing blood pressure and inflammatory markers to easing stress, anxiety, and depression. Yang cautions that yoga isn’t meant or shown to cure physical and mental health issues, but it can effectively treat symptoms.

The proof is in the way you feel after yoga therapy, she adds. “If you have less arthritis pain despite Xrays that show nothing has changed physically, it’s working.”

Want to try it for yourself? To find a yoga therapist near you, search the IAYT member directory, or ask your local yoga instructor for recommendations.

Read more at YogaJournal.com


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