All yoga is therapeutic when practiced appropriately.
Yoga Therapy uses the yoga techniques specifically and purposefully for their healing benefits, while keeping the and bigger purpose of yoga in mind and heart:
It is designed to address the individual needs of the student and is a collaboration between student and yoga therapist .
Yoga science sees each person as a multi-layered being
and seeks to bring balance and integration on all these levels.
The "Five Kosha" model is utilized to understand the multi-layered nature of each person
1. Annamaya Kosha ~ the Physical Sheath
2. Pranamaya Kosha ~ the Energetic Layer
3. Manomaya Kosha ~ the Mental and Emotional aspects of the being
4. Vijnanamaya Kosha ~ the Intellect, higher mind, the witness within
5. Anandamaya Kosha ~ experience of deep Contentment; that Bliss layer
On the Physical level
We first identify individual needs, which vary greatly person to person.
The most helpful yoga therapy practices may be totally different in each situation, for instance: athletic injuries, degenerative disc disease, occupational repetitive use injuries, one recovering from a fall or automobile accident, or one dealing with cancer and its treatment.
Many physical challenges stem from imbalances in the muscular/skeletal system. Through observation and practice we strive to bring all opposing muscle groups, our skeletal structure and the entire body into balance and comfort. Weak muscles are strengthened and tight muscles are stretched. Posture improves and life energy moves freely in the system. Imbalances in the skeletal and muscular systems are responsible for accelerated wear and degeneration of cartilage, causing pain and problems of all sorts. Yoga therapy brings awareness of and interrupts habitual movement patterns and brings all areas of the body into “wholeness”. For one who is bedridden, the physical work may be simple breath-synchronized movement to reduce or avoid atrophy. Or, our work together may focus more on the energetic and emotional aspects through the breath, deep relaxation and Yoga Nidra, and, in synchrony with one's belief system, praying together. For one with degenerative disc disease, we may focus on strengthening the core muscles that hold the pelvis stable and level, and gentle movements that increase healing energy and circulation in the area.
On the Energetic level
Yoga therapy balances and restores the energetic body and allows for efficient unimpeded energy flow. The channels and circuits must be open and functioning for us to feel well.
The breathing and awareness practices/pranayama, the breath ~ synchronized movements,
and the delightful "Yoga Nidra" help the energetic system function optimally.
On the Mental/Emotional level
We may explore the basic drives and emotional responses of the nervous system including the "flight or fight" response. We become more aware of the importance of our place in the larger social system and our natural personality traits. We learn to recognize, identify, reevaluate and interrupt any "circular thinking"; habitual patterns of negative thought and emotion.
The "Wisdom Body"
We work to understand our own life experiences and the wisdom gained through them, and develop insight to detect patterns of living which are not supportive or even injurious to us. Through developing the "witness consciousness", we come to see the full impact of our own thinking and belief systems.
The "Bliss Body"
There is an aspect of our being that is always in total bliss. It is as real as our own physical body and we can nurture it and develop it in very much the same way. It is our True Self; immortal, unified. Communion with this layer of our being is the goal of all yoga practices ~ Self Realization and Unity with ALL!
When practicing, be sure to breathe slowly and deeply. Stay aware of the breath as much as possible. Move slowly, with awareness. If you feel strain or pain, stop, relax, then proceed more gently. Never push into pain or hold against pain.
Daily practice brings sure results. ("Practice, practice, and all is coming!" Sri Pattabhi Jois)
These practices lead one toward comfort in the body, calmness of mind, and an open compassionate heart. When the body becomes clam and relaxed, the mind becomes peaceful and the heart feels lovingly inclusive. If you suffer with chronic pain, are recovering from injury, illness or surgery, or if exercise generally is too strenuous for you, please give Therapeutic Yoga a try. Many are having great results from these gentle, thorough, deeply healing practices.
is one of the powerful and important practices of Self Inquiry within the ancient science of yoga, developed and refined for about the last 3000 years, and given to us as a gift ~ for our healing and evolution now.
Nidra means sleep, but it is actually the waking up from the sleep of our consciousness, into fully integrated beings. It helps us examine our beliefs and become familiar with the witness consciousness. We awaken to our true nature which is eternal and infinite.
One awesome gift of yoga nidra is the purification of the emotional and mental levels. As we go deep into relaxation in the emotional and mental “sheaths” of our being through the yoga nidra practices, we “forget” to hold down the old pains and repressed emotions, and they may bubble to the surface and be released in quite an easy and pain free way. What a delight when we find ourselves lighter and more at peace each time we practice yoga nidra.
When practicing yoga nidra, we want to be as physically comfortable as possible, in a position that can be maintained without moving for the entire time. Lifting the knees feels good on the low back. Find something appropriate to roll up under the knees, letting the heals touch the floor about hip width apart, feet flop outward. Open the low back and buttocks beneath you, draw the shoulder blades down and together, palms facing upward. If needed place something under the head to bring the forehead and chin level.
A wonderful heart opening and upper body posture improver is a narrow role/bolster along the spine, starting mid back and extending past the back of the head.
+ Cover up, stay a comfortable temperature. (See photo above)
+ Once very comfortable, we set an intention. It’s called “Sankalpa”, a resolve. State it as if it is already a fact. It’s meant to be an uplifting, something profound like:
I am deeply satisfied.
Gratitude fills me.
Or the classic: I am happy, healthy and whole.
We’ll repeat it at the beginning and the end of the yoga nidra practice. Sankalpa is known to be very powerful, very effective. Choose your sankalpa thoughtfully and stick with it until it comes to pass.
Do your best to stay awake! The practice will still be beneficial if you fall asleep, however you’ll receive much more if you stay alert, conscious and present. Next we may practice bringing emotions to our conscious experience, alternating those we’d consider positive along with negative.We’ll move back and forth between the emotions, eventually staying equally relaxed and non reactive in both.
From here we’ll go through any of many relaxation techniques focusing on the physical realm. Just let your mind move with the direction of the voice. Know that wonderful things are going on in the brain and mind, as well as the body, even at a cellular level. This is all now scientifically measurable.
Next the awareness moves to the breath. Again, just let your mind rest ~ on the breath, and follow along with the instructions.
Then, we may go through a process of visualizing images, inside the space of our mind. We use images and universal symbols that have deep and powerful associations. They help loosen repressed memories and emotions and allow them to bubble to the surface to be released, accepted and integrated. From my own experience and that of my students so far, it’s a very enjoyable process, and I hope you’ll enjoy it very much, and benefit very much.
Finally it’s time to finish. Gently coming back, we’ll repeat our sankalpa, our intention, amplifying it out ~ out from us and also deep within us.
Be sure to come out of the practice carefully and be fully back in your body before opening your eyes. Let the muscles move slowly, roll to one side and take a few breaths before pushing yourself up to sitting.
Thank you for your interest in Yoga Nidra.
May we continue to drink deeply from the treasure of Blessings that is Yoga.