The tools and techniques of Private Yoga Therapy
Movement and Postures (Asana)
Postural practices often play a key role in a yoga therapy session and may be done standing, sitting, or lying down. Specific poses and movements are carefully selected depending on any health conditions, injuries or goals you may have.
Generally speaking, asana are used to help both stretch, stabilise and strengthen different parts of the body, as well as promote increased circulation and energy flow to target areas. Your posture and balance will also be improved through asana practice.
Have you ever noticed how your breath reflects how you’re feeling? When we’re feeling calm, the breath tends to be gentle, unhurried and unlaboured. When we’re upset or angry the breath becomes short, shallow and choppy.
This awareness of the breath as a direct link between the mind and the body (particularly the nervous system) is at the heart of yoga.
Breathwork exercises help us to explore this dynamic. By manipulating the breath through simple exercises, we can dramatically enhance our mood, improve our focus and rebalance the nervous system.
Meditation and Relaxation Techniques
Yoga is a holistic therapy in the truest sense because it recognises the importance of our mental health in our overall sense of wellbeing. The health of our mind is as important as the food we eat, the exercise we undertake and how much sleep we get.
Meditation and relaxation techniques offer us a way to gently enquire into the nature of our minds and to see when they may be working against us through repetitive, negative thought-patterns, turbulent emotional states or self-sabotaging reflex reactions.
Essentially we are learning how to ‘befriend’ and quieten down our minds so that we can develop greater insight, perspective and equanimity.
Meditation and relaxation practices also work on dampening down the fight-and-flight side of our nervous system. Therefore, they are an incredibly powerful tool in managing chronic health conditions that are caused or exacerbated by stress.
Mudras are symbolic signs, gestures or body positions that allow us to harness and direct the energy of the body in specific ways. Mudras might be used in yoga therapy to cultivate a certain quality, such as a hand gesture used in meditation to promote focus, or to bring awareness and energy to a specific area of the body.
Traditionally a mantra is a letter, word or a phrase that is used repetitively to help quieten down the discursive mind and induce a greater sense of focus, calm and inner peace.
You could liken mantras to the Western modern-day equivalent of a self-affirmation, a meaningful statement that is repeated either silently or aloud to promote a mental shift in perspective.
Studies are showing that mantra is an incredibly powerful tool in ‘rewiring’ our brain’s stress response and helping us to manage a wide-range of health conditions including chronic pain, trauma and depression.
Yoga recognises that health is determined by a complex network of interrelating factors such as diet, genetics, environment, lifestyle factors and relationship networks.
Often when we are trying to discover the source of a particular health concern, or to understand how to manage an existing problem better, we need to delve into these other areas. Yoga therapy offers us some practical and often very simple suggestions on how we can adapt our existing habits to promote better physical, mental and emotional balance.