Chronic back pain contributes to 264 million days of missed work in one year. Experts predict 80% of people will experience back pain in their lives. Back pain is the third most common reason for doctor visits, forcing Americans to spend 50 billion in yearly healthcare costs. These statistics have incentivized doctors to recommend yoga to patients with chronic back pain. However, you cannot treat all back pain the same way. Gabriella Barnstone has worked closely with Dr. Loren Fishman, a leading physician who has successfully treated certain types of back pain with yoga therapy. Under his tutelage she studied the nature of common sources of back pain, among them herniated disc, spinal stenosis, and Piriformis Syndrome. She can create a yoga program to help combat these specific issues so that clients are pain free and more mobile in their everyday lives.
Because more of us are living longer there is now a clear focus on physical issues related to aging. Osteoporosis currently affects more than 200 million people. Weight bearing exercise is recommended to help promote bone density, but not all weight bearing exercise is ideal for those prone to fractures. Recent studies using yoga as an alternative treatment have shown promising results for maintaining bone density. Under the guide of a trained therapist a patient diagnosed with osteoporosis can practice in a safe way to guard against fractures and other side effects of osteoporosis.
Mental stress, emotional stress, and depression can slow the recovery process for survivors of cancer. Yoga provides cancer patients with tools to manage anxiety during recovery. It has been shown that yoga can also help cancer patients with fatigue from treatments. In a group setting a yoga class creates an invaluable social network for the patients outside of their regular treatments. In this environment patients can connect with fellow survivors through movement and mindfulness practices.
Since the 1970’s mindfulness practices have been recommended to those suffering from anxiety, depression, trauma recovery, sleep disorder, and stress. Yoga offers a rounded approach to healing, making it a powerful and effective modality for mental health care. Certain practices, particularly breathing practices, can actually control the stress response.
It is estimated that between 80 and 90% of doctor visits are related to the effects of stress on the body, yet many medical professionals have a difficult time discussing how to help their patients manage stress. In a national survey over 85% of people who did yoga reported that it helped them relieve stress. A three-year NIH funded study at the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute in Brookline, Massachusetts showed the effects of yoga on women with PTSD.
Yuliana Kim-Grant has taken exceptional care with this disorder stemming from her own experiences with depression. She experienced first-hand the profound impact yoga had on her ability to manage the disease. In her work she draws from all aspects of yoga- Postures, Breath work, and Mindfulness practices- to provide the client with a set of tools to manage their daily life and take control of their mental health.
Therapeutic yoga can be a powerful complementary treatment for people with heart conditions. Sonja Rzepski has had the privilege of teaching female cardiac patients in various stages of recovery at Lenox Hill Hospital, witnessing first-hand the profound effects of weekly yoga classes on recovering patients. She has collaborated with cardiologists in their research efforts, producing positive results that have been published in the Annals of Cardiology Medical Journal 2019. In her research the cardiac patients documented lower markers for inflammation, a contributor to heart disease. Practicing yoga can also lower blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels, making it an effective lifestyle intervention.
Due to pressures from the field elite athletes often train and compete even when ill or injured. In partnership with the coach and other members of the support team, Integrative Yoga Therapy can play an important role in managing the health of the competing athlete. The Yoga Therapist can help navigate the right balance between health and optimum performance. Yoga Therapy can improve an athlete's focus so she is able to concentrate and remain calm and steady before competitions. The approach encourages the cultivation of balance alongside empowerment in the athlete’s lifestyle.
Yoga therapy is the professional application of the principles and practices of yoga to promote health and well-being within a therapeutic relationship that includes personalized assessment, goal setting, lifestyle management, and yoga practices for individuals or small groups.
Yoga is a scientific system of self-investigation, self-transformation, and self-realization that originated in India.The teachings of yoga are rooted in the Vedas and grounded in classical texts and a rich oral tradition.This tradition recognizes that the human being’s essential nature is unchanging awareness that exists in relationship to and identification with the changing phenomena of the empirical world.
The yoga tradition views humans as a multidimensional system that includes all aspects of body; breath; and mind, intellect, and emotions and their mutual interaction.Yoga is founded on the basic principle that intelligent practice can positively influence the direction of change within these human dimensions, which are distinct from an individual’s unchanging nature or spirit.The practices of yoga traditionally include, but are not limited to, asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra, chanting, mudra, ritual, and a disciplined lifestyle.
Yoga therapy is the appropriate application of these teachings and practices in a therapeutic context in order to support a consistent yoga practice that will increase self-awareness and
engage the client/student’s energy in the direction of desired goals.The goals of yoga therapy include eliminating, reducing, or managing symptoms that cause suffering; improving function; helping to prevent the occurrence or reoccurrence of underlying causes of illness; and moving toward improved health and wellbeing.Yoga therapy also helps clients/students change their relationship to and identification with their condition.
The practice of yoga therapy requires specialized training and skill development to support the relationship between the client/student and therapist and to effect positive change for the individual.
Yoga therapy is informed by its sister science, Ayurveda.As part of a living tradition, yoga therapy continues to evolve and adapt to the cultural context in which it is practiced, and today, it is also informed by contemporary health sciences. Its efficacy is supported by an increasing body of research evidence, which contributes to the growing understanding and acceptance of its value as a therapeutic discipline.
- International Association of Yoga Therapists