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Yoga as Healing
As a fitness approach, yoga offers tremendous benefits, which are valuable in their own right. At the same time, it's important not to lose sight of the deeper potential yoga offers as a therapy for healing and transformation. Yoga therapy is the therapeutic use of yoga, specifically to help alleviate or manage disease conditions.
The way yoga has developed in the West, yoga postures (yoga asanas) and yoga breathing techniques (pranayama) are the focus of most people's yoga practice. Yoga postures and breathing techniques purify and strengthen the body to increase the flow of vital energy, or prana, and still the constant chatter of the mind. But the deepest aim of yoga isn't to come into an advanced version of Pretzel-asana. It is not about achieving a specific goal, or perfecting a specific pose. Yoga ultimately is about process; it's about the journey, not about arriving.
Yoga is about taking little steps, consistently and patiently, to deepen your relationship with your body, to invite greater health and vitality into mind and body, to achieve greater balance of mind and spirit. It is exactly in this way, step by step, exploration after exploration, that yoga spontaneously creates its therapeutic effects.
When practiced in the right way-with attentiveness, awareness and without strain, pushing, or forcing, yoga creates extraordinary effects on many levels. The long, slow stretches of yoga induce a sense of relaxation and well-being throughout the practice. Often, what keeps people coming back to yoga again and again, is the peace they experience at the end of a yoga class and the enhanced well-being they enjoy in the days that follow.
As long-term practitioners of yoga can attest, yoga is therapy, because it not only enhances the health of our body, but augments our mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Yoga is therapy because, ultimately, true healing must involve not just our body, but our mind, our emotions, even our spiritual life.
Yoga is therapy because it takes us out of sluggishness and inertia and sets us on a path of transformation and growth. Yoga therapy affects a gentle mind-body repatterning, which enables us to let go of habits that no longer serve us and embrace lasting change and growth.
People who develop a regular yoga practice often find a natural shift in their outlook on life and a deepening in their perception of who they are. Using yoga therapy can help you look at life in a deeper, calmer way; open your eyes to things you have not experienced before and make you look at familiar things in new ways. Many people who practice yoga continue to do so, because they find that yoga has helped them to not just deal with a health issue like depression or back pain, but to develop a new and deeper appreciation of life, and a greater joy and happiness.