Aspects of yoga originated in the Far East and have been practiced for thousands of years. Yoga therapy includes postures, breathing exercises, and meditation practices that connect the mind and body. Different yoga therapies are practiced around the world, often used as a complementary treatment alongside traditional medicine.
Yoga can improve both mental and physical health
Deep breathing exercises and slow movements help increase circulation and warm up muscles, while yoga poses strengthen muscles and improve balance and flexibility. Recent scientific studies conclude that yoga improves both mental and physical health.
Anyone can practice yoga
Yoga is suitable for everyone. If you are a beginner, prepare yourself to show up for instruction and participate in practices that are appropriate for you.
More about yoga
There are various types of yoga practiced around the world. In Western countries yoga is often used as a complementary treatment alongside traditional medicine.
Hatha (traditional) yoga is the style of therapeutic yoga offered by UCHealth’s integrative medicine practices. Hatha yoga is a slower paced form of exercise that focuses on breathing exercises, stretching, and calm movements. There are hundreds of different postures and several breathing practices that are modified to fit your specific needs. Through Hatha yoga, you will learn a sense of balance and calming techniques that you can apply to your entire life.
Studies show that Hatha yogic practices can be beneficial for regulating your body’s metabolism, improving your physical health, and reducing stress. It can also boost your mood and improve your overall sense of well-being.
The many benefits of yoga therapy
The practice of yoga and its variety of methods has been shown to decrease chronic pain and stress, and improve range of motion, strength, focus, and sleep. Yoga therapy can help people who suffer from various conditions to improve their overall well-being, reduce their symptoms, and restore balance.
Because yoga focuses on both the mind and physical health, the benefits of yoga may help with the following:
- Arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Balance problems.
- Cancer and the side effects of chemotherapy.
- Chronic back, neck pain, or joint restrictions.
- Chronic fatigue.
- Chronic pain.
- Heart disease, heart conditions, and hypertension.
- Low-back pain.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Sleep disorders such as insomnia.
- Substance abuse issues.
Yoga therapy can be tailored just for you
Yoga can be modified to fit your age, experience, ability, and/or health condition.
Even if your movement is limited, or you are in a wheelchair, you can practice yoga.
Yoga practices begin with a trained yoga therapist. Yoga therapists focus on their clients’ needs, understand why they come to yoga classes, and support them with proper and beneficial techniques. Certain yoga postures may be difficult to perform if you lack flexibility and balance; however, therapists will offer different approaches to do various poses.
What is individual yoga therapy?
Yoga therapy improves health and well-being through the application and the teaching of yoga in an individual session, or small groups of people with similar concerns.
As conducted at UCHealth, individual sessions are completely customized and take into account your level of physical ability, health, and injury status. Sessions are designed to meet your specific requirements.
Skilled yoga therapists. Yoga therapy applies the teachings of yoga under the direction of a skilled yoga therapist, and is not the same as the recreational modern yoga that is practiced in many community yoga studios and recreation centers.
A yoga therapist will begin with a personalized consultation and will focus on the specific problems that bother you. They’ll work with you to create a yoga practice that helps you cope with these issues and meets your health goals.
Yoga therapists may specialize in more specific training for chronic pain, heart and stroke conditions, cancer recovery, trauma, pregnancy, or arthritis. The intention is to provide support to help patients learn how to practice yoga, while respecting their health conditions, so they can live healthier lives.
How yoga therapy works
In an individual session
Before your session.
Yoga therapy sessions are held in a calm space at the Integrative Medicine Center and last 75 minutes. Before your session, you will be asked to fill out a brief health questionnaire.
During your session.
Our yoga therapist will begin your session with an assessment and detailed understanding of your health history, concerns, lifestyle, and goals. The yoga therapist will assess physical strength, flexibility, and balance, as well as body and mind patterns. A personalized yoga practice will be developed and taught to meet your needs.
After your session.
Handouts and other materials will be provided, so you can continue with your regular yoga practice at home. Follow-up sessions are scheduled as-needed to continue your progress or modify your yoga practice as your needs change.
In a group class
Group yoga classes offer a relaxed and supportive environment where you can move at your own level. They’re especially helpful if you’ve been injured, are recovering from an injury, or dealing with physical limitations.
Regardless of the cause of illness, everyone benefits from the deep relaxation, gentleness, overall toning, and breath exercises that are a part of the practices of yoga. Postures are adjusted individually as is appropriate; chairs and exercise equipment provide great options for keeping knees, hips and back free from strain and distress. People leave class with a greater sense of peace and calmness.
Before your class.
For your comfort, please wear loose, relaxed clothing. Shoes are optional. Please inform your instructor of any health problems, recent injuries, if you are pregnant, or if you experience dizziness, shortness of breath, headaches or severe pain.
During your class.
Gentle Hatha yoga classes are held in a calm environment. They typically last 60 minutes. The class consists of breathing exercises, gentle yoga postures, and stretching. At the end of the class, you will have a short time to meditate and relax. Classes are adapted to the needs and abilities of the participants.
After your class.
You will leave the yoga class feeling relaxed with an improved sense of well-being.
It is normal to experience soreness after your class, because you will use new and different muscles. The soreness should subside after a few classes and with regular practice.
MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine. Yoga for health (https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000876.htm)
National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): National Library of Medicine. Medical Yoga Therapy (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5332914/)