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Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word 'yeung' meaning to join - is a Hindu discipline provided a range of physical & mental exercises aimed at improving control of your body & mind, focusing on body alignment. It is a simple means of relief from both mental & physical stress guiding the way to achieve good health.

In This Article
History Of Yoga How does it work?
A typical session What to expect
Timings/ Sessions/ Costs Is it right for you?
Yoga has a rich history spanning thousands of years with archaeological evidence suggesting its use around 3,000BC. The Indus Valley civilisation of Pakistan and Northern India are attributed as the first people to practice yoga. The Indus used yoga techniques for spiritual growth and enlightenment as part of their Hindu faith.

Yoga, as popular in the West, is based on 'Hatha Yoga'. This style of yoga was developed in the 15th century by Indian Yogic sage Swami Swatamarama. His yoga focussed on posture, breath control, hand seals and locks. Swatamarama's yoga is familiar to students learning yoga today.

Worldwide more than 30 million people are said to practice some form of yoga. In the UK, yoga was introduced during the 1950s and 60s and enjoyed a surge of popularity in the 90s through to present day. Yoga therapy is a modern discipline utilising traditional yoga practices with western medical science.

There are many types of yoga such as Hatha, Bikram and Lyengar but each one aims to unify the mind, body and spirit. This is achieved through postures (known as asanas) and breathing techniques (known as pranayama) that aid physical and mental well-being. Yoga therapy tailors these postures and techniques to the individual's condition and is therefore more effective and safer than general yoga classes. Yoga therapy also complements medical treatment helping to relieve symptoms.

There are thousands of postures in yoga that condition the body and return it to a normal functioning state. These are grouped into 'actions' (kriyas), 'seals' (mudras) and 'locks' (bandhas). A kriya, or action, focuses on the effort required to move energy up and down the spine. Mudras, or seals, are used for concentration and to hold energy within the body. Bandhas, or locks, is a yoga technique used to hold muscular contractions. Yoga postures improve muscle tone and flexibility. Joints, ligaments and tendons also become more flexible and lubricated. Yoga postures can also massage internal organs and glands aiding prevention of disease.

Yoga postures focus the mind to concentrate on specific body parts. How the body feels and the sensation of the muscles moving through the body results in a peaceful and relaxed state of mind. Combined with pranayama, or breathing techniques, the body and mind are balanced and merge with the spirit. This decreases the heart rate and increases energy flow (often referred to as life energy) around the body giving a sense of inner calm.

Be prepared - It is advisable to choose a yoga practitioner who is a member of, or is accredited by, an association or professional body. This ensures your yoga session is carried out in a suitable environment and by someone who has received formal training and ongoing development. Members are also bound to a code of ethics and practice. The main yoga organisations are listed at the foot of this article.

Yoga therapy is a specialised discipline and therapists are experienced yoga teachers who have undertaken further training in medical sciences to help alleviate health conditions through the application of yoga.

Before your session, spend time thinking about what you expect to achieve with yoga. Many people use yoga to improve their quality of life and to reduce stress. Yoga also has postures to help with many types of disease, disorders, allergies and pain relief. Consider what your needs are and consult with a local practitioner who can advise you on the benefits of yoga in relation to your condition.

It is advisable not to drink alcohol on the day of your appointment, drink plenty of water instead. Have a light meal (nothing spicy or fatty) a couple of hours before you see the yoga therapist and avoid any activity that requires too much exertion. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and allow plenty of time to get to your appointment; hurrying will affect your physical and mental well-being and be detrimental to the effects of the therapy.

Many yoga studios have hard floors and you may be required to bring a yoga mat. These should be made from a non-slip rubber and can be bought with extra padding and sweat resistance. Expect to pay around £15. It is advisable to bring a towel to your session to wipe away sweat or roll up and use as a neck support. Consult your local yoga practitioner before making an appointment to see what equipment you'll need to bring.

Yoga therapy takes place on a one-to-one basis as opposed to general yoga that takes place in a class environment. During your first appointment, your yoga therapist will begin with an assessment of your general health, medical history and lifestyle. They may also ask about your sleep patterns or emotional state. Yoga therapy takes a holistic approach so be honest with your answers, it will help achieve better results.

From the answers you have given, your yoga therapist will explain a suitable course of treatment. They will then begin with some relaxation and awareness exercises. This will be followed by simple yoga postures and breathing techniques. Some of these postures and techniques will require you to consciously relax while others will be more active.

The yoga therapist will guide you into postures that will strengthen, stretch and compress different parts of your body. This will help realign your body's structure and improve its physical function. Postures also enhance circulation and flush out toxins that may have built up. The breathing exercises will calm your mind by increasing oxygen levels to the brain while improving lung capacity and energy levels. During the treatment, many people experience a sense of deep relaxation and release of tension in the body.

After your session, your yoga therapist will discuss the experience with you and recommend any follow-up sessions and exercises to do at home. People experience different sensations after treatment such as invigoration and pain relief. Some people feel tired after yoga therapy while others experience headaches or emotional changes. These effects, however disruptive to your usual state, are a sign of the body responding to the treatment.

Your first session with a yoga therapist may take longer than subsequent sessions as your practitioner questions you about your medical history and lifestyle and then recommends a course of treatment. Expect this session to last 60 - 90 minutes and follow-up sessions 30 - 60 minutes.

The cost for yoga therapy varies so check with your local practitioner before making an appointment. Expect to pay £30 - £50 for your first session with subsequent sessions costing £15 - £30. If you attend classes then these costs will usually be less.

Many yoga therapists recommend a series of five or six sessions to fully explore all the possible postures and exercises that could benefit your condition. These sessions will usually take place on a weekly basis. Many people continue to use yoga after their condition has been treated as way to promote good health and prevent further problems.

Yoga is a safe and effective therapy when practised by a trained practitioner and it is suitable for all ages from children to people in their 90's. Yoga therapy can be used in conjunction with modern medicine & other complementary therapies & can help with a wide variety of ailments/ conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis MS, back pain, obesity, high blood pressure, pregnancy, arthritis & joint pain.

Consult with your GP and yoga therapist about any medical problems or concerns you have as they are trained to recognise what can and cannot be treated with the therapy.

This therapy or modality may help with:

Abdominal Pain Accident trauma Anxiety
Arthritis Asthma Back Pain
Blood pressure Breathing disorders Bronchitis
Childbirth Chronic Fatigue Chronic Pain
Circulation Problems Constipation Depression
Digestive Problems Disc Problems Dysmenorrhea
Eczema Endometriosis Fractures
Frozen Shoulder Headaches Heart disease
Heel Pain Immune System Dysfunction Incontinence
Indigestion Infertility Insomnia
Joint Pain Ligament Sprain Lumbago
Lymphedema M E Menopausal symptoms
Migraines Multiple Sclerosis MS Muscle Cramps
Muscle stiffness Neck pain Neck stiffness
Obesity Osteoporosis Period pain
Personal development PMS PMT Post operative pain
Postural problems Pregnancy Repetitive strain injury
Rheumatism Sciatica Scoliosis
Shoulder pain Sinusitis Spinal Injury
Sports injuries Sprain (Ankle, Knee) Stomach cramps
Stress Stroke Tennis Elbow
Tiredness Tremors Urinary Problems
Weight Management Whiplash

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British Wheel of Yoga (BWY) British Wheel of Yoga (BWY) More Info Association of Physical & Natural Therapies (APNT) Association of Physical & Natural Therapies (APNT) More Info


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