A little push to begin

In case you need some encouragement to get started with yoga therapy, here are a few reminders of what the practices are all about.

This article from the American Osteopathic Association outlines some of the physical and mental benefits that come with yogic practices: An osteopathic physician and yoga teacher notes that in addition to decreasing chronic pain including low back and headache pain, “Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia.” She notes additional physical benefits of yoga, including:

  • increased flexibility, muscle strength, and tone;
  • improved respiration, energy, and vitality;
  • maintenance of a balanced metabolism and possible weight loss;
  • cardiovascular health;
  • improved athletic performance; and
  • injury protection.

Meditative practices, which may include but definitely aren’t limited to formal “sitting,” are a key part of yoga therapy’s toolkit, too, so don’t let the perceived physical nature of the practice dissuade you! (An emphasis on the external form of yoga asana, or posture, practice reflects Western culture’s orientation toward the physical and tangible—this focus can have benefit, of course, but it certainly doesn’t capture all that yoga philosophy has to offer.)

And even if you think you “can’t” meditate, the myriad health benefits of such practices make trying them worthwhile. This article lists some of the advantages and offers help for those who have trouble sitting still or who have found themselves unable to empty their minds. (Spoiler alert: That’s not necessary at all!)

Once you get going with a practice, cultivating the yogic principle of tapas keeps things moving toward transformation. This principle, one of the niyamas, or self-disciplines, represents the enthusiasm and determination needed to stick with a routine over time.

(Note that the resources given here, like many currently available, don’t distinguish between general yoga practice and individualized yoga therapy, but they offer an overview of what to expect from the practices.)