Research on yoga has proliferated over the last decade, and by now there are more than 3400 studies on the benefits of yoga.
Yoga has been shown to positively affect more than 75 health benefits, ranging from back pain and high blood pressure to depression, anxiety, insomnia and numerous other conditions according to Dr. Timothy McCall, author Yoga as Medicine—The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing.
Not surprisingly, the applications of yoga as therapy have grown enormously in the last several years. There is now a 1,000 hour certification track standardized by the International Association of Yoga Therapy, and the first several hundred yoga therapists are about to be certified.
The opportunities for the use of yoga as therapy going forward are great, but there are also some considerable challenges, says Dr. Timothy McCall in this free download.
In the West, we’re very dominated by the Western medical model. But in yoga therapy, if someone has high blood pressure, we don’t just treat the high blood pressure, we treat the whole being. We don’t treat conditions, we treat individuals.
There is also a tendency to think that we need to have a specific yoga sequence for a specific condition, which again is based on the medical paradigm. But that’s not true in yoga. Yoga has it’s own diagnostic techniques – we look at posture, breath, Ayurvedic imbalances—that’s what we’re targeting. The medical diagnosis is more indicative of what we shouldn’t be doing (contraindications) than what we need to be doing.
Canned sequences can’t possibly consider all these factors, says Dr. McCall. You can’t create a sequence without reference to the person you’re teaching.
Crucial to yoga therapy is the idea of tailoring the approach not just to the medical diagnosis, but to each student’s unique constellation of physical, emotional, spiritual and environmental factors, notes Dr. McCall. Yoga therapy routines are not “one size fits all,” but need to be personalized to each individual’s unique needs, aptitudes and preferences —and usually need to be modified over time.
Dr. McCall also discusses the tremendous value that the integration of yoga’s “sister science” of Ayurvedic medicine offers to better understand yourself, and your students, and better plan yoga routines.