More information on Yoga as a therapy
Yoga is a holistic approach to therapy that recognises and effects many aspects of our being (body, breath, mind and more). It recognises that a key component in accessing and linking these is The Breath.
On a physical level
The physical benefits of strengthening and mobilizing the body using yoga are only one element of how yoga can be used as a therapy. In this approach, we link all movement to the breath to have more impact on our system as a whole.
Changes in our breath normally happen automatically without us noticing. For example under stress breathing speeds up and when we’re relaxed slows down and most of the time we don’t notice. The body’s reaction is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. Our breath is one part of a whole ‘chain of events’ that occur in the body under stress.
In yoga we consciously harness the breath to appropriately impact our nervous system. By harnessing the breath part of the ‘chain of events’ we have an impact on the nervous system and in turn other body systems. So breathing practices within yoga, either within movement or practices on their own, cultivate awareness of breath that in turn influences, body, breath and mind.
Yoga can therefore be used as a therapy for more than just ‘physical’ ailments of muscles and joints but can be used to help heal problems in other body systems too.
According to ancient Hatha Yoga texts ‘As is breath as is mind’ and so a long slow steady breath reflects a calm steady mind. In this approach to yoga we link all our movements in asana to the breath and conduct our asana practice in such a way that we nurture a calm slow steady breath with a view to having a calm slow steady mind. Helping to combat stress, anxiety and problems that impact our psychological wellbeing.
Many eastern medicine approaches recognise energy pathways within the body. This energy in Hatha yoga, is known as ‘Prana’. In yoga we work in very specific ways with different elements of the breath, in postures and breathing practices in order to access and influence prana. This is a valuable therapeutic component which can be applied and is relevant to health issues or illnesses which impact our energy.