As a hatha yoga teacher, I have been able to see the usefulness of adding yoga therapeutics to my private acupuncture practice.
As yoga has become a more acceptable form of mental and physical fitness in this country, yoga can be prescribed as an aid and ally for the health of our clients. Because of the gentle nature of yoga, it can be almost universally used by both old and young, and well as the energetic vs. the debilitated. Gentle or therapeutic yoga would be recommended for the elderly and depleted.
Hatha yoga has been used for thousands of years as a path to spiritual enlightenment because of its effects of producing mental clarity and body strength. Hatha yoga is comprised of both simple and complex postures of the body, which simultaneously build strength, flexibility, and balance. Some postures help with the opening of the lungs and chest cavity, while others help lengthen and stimulate the spinal column. Some postures can help cool the body, and others can help cleanse the liver and kidneys or stimulate the adrenal glands. All postures help build the strength of the nervous system and help the circulatory system.
In my private practice, I use chest and lung openers for clients who suffer from depression, heart conditions, digestive disorders, lung conditions (shortness of breath, bronchitis, etc.) and for mental clarity. Clients feel better almost immediately, begin to breathe more deeply and release tension. I use sitting and standing postures for clients who come in with knee and ankle injuries, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and abnormalities of the legs. These postures strengthen the ankles, open the knee joints and improve overall circulation through the legs. Improvement is seen after two or three postures. Many yoga postures are designed to help women through different stages of their lives from menarche to menopause and are also used to help with gynecological disorders such as fibroids, endometriosis, and amenorrhea. For my clients who have limited strength due to a depleted condition, I give them postures to gently build up their strength and endurance.
This is only a short list of the many benefits that therapeutic yoga can give to your clients. Another great benefit of the postures is that the clients can begin to do them at home as part of their treatment strategy. As a nine-year practitioner of yoga and an avid student of yoga therapeutics for three years, I do caution which yoga practitioner is recommended for your clients. A practitioner with training in therapeutic yoga is a MUST; like all things physical, people can injure themselves through improper alignment and positioning. There are also contraindications for some yoga postures. Private yoga lessons are recommended in the beginning until the yoga teacher sees that the client is ready for a class environment. If the client seems reasonably healthy physically and mentally, an introductory yoga class is recommended.
Acknowledgements to my yoga guru, Shri B.K.S. Iyengar whose method of yoga I practice and teach, whose wisdom and discipline has led to an intimate knowledge of the body and spirit, through the exploration of inner consciousness and spiritual enlightenment. My yoga training and study indebted to Lois Steinberg, my mentor, and guide.