Yoga Therapy as Mind-Body Healing
Yoga therapy can help target a yoga practice to specific health concerns or health limitations. When yoga is used as therapy, it has the potential to heal or alleviate a surprising range of conditions. You will find yoga therapy practices targeting diabetes, yoga for depression, yoga for back pain, yoga for heart disease, and so on.
Even a regular yoga practice in itself offers numerous health benefits. Many yoga teachers have experienced that people attending their yoga classes often spontaneously report several health benefits from their yoga practice.
How does yoga and yoga therapy create such a wide range of effects? It comes about in many ways. When practiced in the right way-with attentiveness, awareness and without strain, pushing, or forcing, yoga creates extraordinary effects on many levels. Firstly, the long, slow stretches of yoga induce a sense of relaxation and well-being, which remains even after the practice. Often, what keeps people coming back to yoga classes again and again is the peace they experience at the end of the practice and the enhanced well-being they enjoy in the days that follow.
Beyond that, however, yoga therapy often works magic, because it doesn’t just enhance the health of the body, it offers a complete system of mind-body healing. In fact, yoga therapy doesn’t just affect mind and body; it works on all levels of our being, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
According to yoga traditions, we are not just a bodies made up of individual parts. We are holistic, multi-dimensional beings made up not just by our physical form, but by many different, interactive levels. These include our body, our vital energy, our mind and emotions, our higher wisdom self, and our deepest essence of Self. Yoga therapy has such wide-reaching effects, because yoga asanas work multi-dimensionally, on all levels of our being.
According to yoga philosophy, the different dimensions of our being are referred to as the Five Koshas, or five sheaths. The Five Koshas include the physical body, the energy body, the mental-emotional body, the wisdom body, and the Bliss body. The Five Koshas, or sheaths, are not part of our body in the usual anatomical sense; rather they are different expressions of our deepest, underlying nature. True, lasting healing comes about by creating deeper integration and balance in all these fundamental dimensions of our being.
Yoga therapy offers multi-dimensional healing, because it brings greater harmony and balance to all the dimensions of our being. According to yoga philosophy, each of the Five Koshas is mutually dependent on each other and influence one another. Imbalance or malfunction in the body is not necessarily caused on the level of the body, but may arise from a problem in another Kosha, another part of our being. This is why true healing can never take place by focusing on just one level, i.e. the physical body.
For healing to be complete and lasting, according to the yoga therapy tradition, it must affect change multi-dimensionally, involving all levels of our being. This is exactly what yoga therapy does and why yoga therapy can create positive changes for such a broad range of disease conditions.