Yoga is often misunderstood as being limited to various poses that provide physical benefits and help you relax. But we shouldn’t forget that yoga also offers immense benefits for uniting the mind, body, and breath. By harmonizing all three, you are creating a calmer, happier frame of mind and developing a stronger, more flexible body at the same time.
When yoga is utilized as a therapeutic practice, it can be incorporated into an integrative treatment plan for a variety of mental and physical health issues. While yoga generally aims to improve mental and physical health, yoga as a therapeutic practice involves the strategic use of specific poses to alleviate mental and physical symptoms.
Utilizing yoga as a therapeutic practice has become so mainstream that many doctors and healthcare institutions are now incorporating it into their treatment plans for a variety of mental and physical conditions. It is becoming widely recognized for its multidimensional benefits, and even professionals in the mental health field recommend yoga regularly as part of an integrative treatment plan.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at how yoga can be used as a therapeutic practice and how its benefits can be integrated into treatment protocols for many common health concerns.
How Yoga is Used as a Therapeutic Practice
The beauty of yoga as a therapeutic practice is that it empowers the patient by allowing them to incorporate a personalized and evolving practice into their treatment. Not only are they addressing their illness in a multi-dimensional way, but they are also relieving their symptoms in a non-invasive and complementary manner.
While it may not be a cure for their illness, it can help to manage the illness and promote healing, both mentally and physically. Incorporating yoga into an integrative treatment plan aligns the patient’s needs with yoga teachings for powerful curative effects.
For example, an individual who suffers from chronic lower back pain can utilize specific yoga postures to strengthen and support the back while also relaxing the area and relieving pain. At the same time, yoga practice helps the patient manage the stress and depression that often accompany chronic physical pain.
Another example is a patient who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Yoga provides a gentle way to calm the nervous system and help the patient reconnect with the mind and body. Sessions may include postures as well as meditation and breathing techniques to help the individual develop strategies to manage their symptoms outside of practice.
The Integrative Benefits of Yoga
- Holistic Fitness
The postures, meditation techniques, and breathing techniques taught in yoga are the definition of holistic fitness. They improve overall mental and physical strength and health while detoxifying the mind and body. That makes yoga beneficial for almost any ailment from depression to ADHD and chronic pain. It can also be useful for relieving the symptoms of serious chronic illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and more.
- Improved Posture, Flexibility, and Joint Health
Regular yoga practice improves core strength, which is vital for good posture. It also stretches and tones the muscles throughout the body, improving strength, flexibility, and balance.
According to experts at the Yinova Center acupuncture clinic in New York City, “Good posture aligns the bones and muscles to work the most efficiently, while any posture that forces muscles to strain is going to have repercussions for the joints and muscles.”
Correcting the posture improves joint health by taking strain off the joints caused by incorrect posture. Realigning posture is essential for individuals with chronic back and hip pain, arthritis, and other joint disorders while improving balance and flexibility is beneficial for preventing falls and injuries in senior patients.
- Weight Loss
Yoga promotes weight loss in a number of ways. Much like any other exercise, performing the postures burns calories and builds muscle.
But even more than that, individuals who practice yoga regularly often find that they become more active outside of yoga practice, simply because they have more energy and fewer aches and pains.
Practicing yoga also promotes a stronger connection between the mind and body, making the practitioner more in tune with what their body needs. This encourages healthier lifestyle habits, including a greater awareness of our food choices and body weight.
Weight loss can be a critical part of an integrative treatment plan for fertility issues, diabetes, fatty liver disease, heart conditions, chronic pain, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and much more.
- Improved Immunity and Reduced Inflammation
Yoga is an effective immune booster because it lowers the level of stress hormones in the body, which can weaken the immune system and leave you more prone to illness. Yoga also strengthens the nervous system while promoting lymphatic drainage, which supports detoxification and relieves inflammation.
Strengthening immunity and reducing inflammation is essential, not only for preventing illness but also for relieving the symptoms of many ailments, from cancer and heart disease to the common cold.
- Improved Circulation and Cardiovascular Health
Yoga promotes blood flow and improves the oxygenation of the blood. Improving circulation is beneficial in many ways, from increasing energy to speeding muscle recovery and improving cardiovascular health.
Yoga also improves your heart rate, lung capacity, and helps to lower blood pressure, which further improves heart function and health. In fact, research published by the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing reports that people who practice yoga consistently for twelve weeks experience lower blood pressure and a healthier heart rate.
Improved heart health is important for everyone, but it’s especially beneficial for anyone who has a higher risk of heart disease, or even for those who are already experiencing heart disease symptoms.
Wrapping Things Up
Yoga offers some incredible integrative benefits when used as a therapeutic practice for reducing the symptoms of mental and physical health concerns. Just be sure to run it by your health care professional before you start, especially if you are dealing with a chronic health issue. They may be able to offer some valuable insight into how you can get the most benefit from your practice.