Most of those who participate in regular yoga sessions do so in hopes of improving their strength, flexibility, balance and mental focus. While the achievement of such goals may serve as an excellent first step in preventing a wide array of illnesses and conditions, the proactive yoga approach may remain out of reach for those currently suffering from physical and mental ailments. Fortunately, such individuals are also well served from the incorporation of yoga into everyday life -- research shows that, when performed correctly, yoga can induce profound rehabilitative effects.
Yoga and Physical Therapy
As a report from the New York Times alleges, neither group lessons or one-on-one yoga classes can serve as sufficient replacements for physical therapy, particularly when participants suffer from such debilitating conditions as arthritis or multiple sclerosis. However, the regular practice of targeted yoga poses can have profound effects when incorporated into an overarching physical therapy plan.
Many physical therapists actually instruct their clients on specific yoga moves in hopes of improving strength or flexibility in targeted areas. The key is receiving accurate feedback from a trained professional -- for those suffering from moderate to severe physical impediments, the wrong yoga move can result in greater injury.
Yoga and Mental Rehabilitation
Yoga is wonderful in that it provides tangible benefits in terms of both physical and mental health. Improvements to mental wellbeing are particularly profound among yoga participants suffering from depression, anxiety or other associated disorders.
A variety of studies highlighted by experts point to yoga's efficacy as a form of stress modulation. This is attributed to the practice's emphasis on deep breathing, an activity said to elicit such immediate bodily responses as a slower heart rate and decreases in blood pressure. These physical effects underlie the profound mental calming that occurs during a successful yoga session. By focusing on deep breathing, as well as specific poses and transitional movements, the participant is able to let go of the anxieties that otherwise make it impossible to experience true peace of mind. This is every bit as true for a yogi experiencing mild anxiety as it is for one suffering from severe mental illness.
Yoga continues to change lives, promoting miraculous recoveries among those with mental and physical ailments. When utilized correctly, this practice proves transformative in all aspects of life.
Issacs, Nora. “Your Yoga Therapist Will See You Now.” The New York Times. May 10, 2007. Web.
Harvard University. “Yoga for Anxiety and Depression.” April 2009. Web.