You have probably heard the debate over whether contemporary yoga should be considered as a form of exercise or a spiritual practice, with each side sure of its position. But what about the idea that yoga is a type of medicine?
This idea is not so bizarre in India. Yoga along with its sister science Ayurveda, has been traditionally prescribed to treat mental and physical ailments, not just for things like a bad back or recovery from a muscular injury.
For many years, T Krishnamacharya and his students (namely BKS Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, his son TKV Desikachar) have offered sequences of yoga poses for treatment of asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes, amongst many others.
Because this application of yoga has not been given much attention by research science, it has not been widely practiced outside of India until recently.
What is yoga therapy?
The science of yoga is concerned with integration of body and mind.
Yoga therapy refers to the application and adaption of yoga for therapeutic benefit.
A yoga therapy program is designed according to individual needs of a person, wherever they may be at, with the objective of attaining optimal wellbeing.
Yoga therapy is suitable for everybody regardless of age, fitness, state of health or belief system. A personal practice is prescribed according to the physical, emotional and psychological needs as well as the circumstances of the individual.
For example, a practice may be designed simply to maintain health and fitness, or to help remedy asthma, diabetes, a back or knee problem, a hormonal issue, an emotional disorder, a chronic physical or psychological condition or disability, cardio-vascular condition, to enhance sports prowess or to facilitate meditative practices.
Yoga therapy recognises that everyone is different and no single approach or practice will be appropriate for all. Yoga therapist will combine and modify a selection of available tools of yoga in accordance with the needs of the individual to achieve a specific outcome.
Whilst yoga therapy might help cope with certain medical problems, it’s important to remember that it is complementary to, rather than a substitute to standard medical care.
Clients are advised that they should always continue seeing their doctors.
What to expect in a consultation?
The initial consultation takes 1.5 hours which includes:
A follow up session is recommended a week later to ensure the individual is doing the practice correctly and to update the practice with changes.
A final session is scheduled in 4 weeks to monitor the progress and upgrade the practice as required.