An overview of yoga

What is yoga?

Yoga means union in Sanskrit – the sacred language of Buddhism in Hinduism. It has been around for more than five thousand years. The aim of yoga practitioners is and has been, to create harmony between the body and the soul. Many people associate yoga with dexterous physical postures.  This form of yoga is referred to as asanas. These postures benefit the body in many ways. These include:

  • Tone the body.
  • Improve physical strength.
  • Create good body alignment.
  • Improve circulation to organs and tissues.

 

 

Pranayama – another type of yoga

Another type of yoga called pranayama involves breath control exercises. This has a direct effect on the mind where it leads to benefits that include:

  • A calm mind.
  • Reduced anxiety.
  • Reduced stress levels.
  • Focused and well-controlled mind.

 

Benefits of yoga in physiotherapy

These go beyond the physical benefits. For example, with improved circulation, many conditions that need physiotherapy can be improved. These include painful disorders such as the various types of arthritis. Body toning and strengthening are helpful in managing problems such as chronic back pain, tension headache, muscle spasms and neurological problems such as sciatica.

Many physiotherapy patients have balance issues. Yoga practiced regularly promotes good body balance that in turn reduces the risk of falls and injury. Yoga can be a good way of helping people who lead a sedentary lifestyle start an effective exercise program. It’s gentle ‘non-violent’ nature can prepare such a person for more vigorous physically exerting exercises.

Who can benefit from physiotherapy yoga?

Essentially all people can benefit from various aspects of physiotherapy yoga. A qualified team of a physiotherapist and a yoga teacher with good knowledge of therapeutic yoga relevant to medical practice will assess the individual needs of a patient and design a treatment program. Generally speaking, the following groups of persons can benefit.

  1. The elderly.
  2. Those that need to improve muscle strength.
  3. Those that need to increase the range of motion for various joints.
  4. Those recovering from certain orthopedic procedures.
  5. Sports people.
  6. Prenatal mothers.


The take home message

While physiotherapy focuses on particular muscles or locations of the body, yoga goes further and takes care of all the muscles and the body as a whole. It goes beyond the physical realm and into the human mind and spirit. This results in a holistic approach to the health issues at hand and the wellbeing of the whole body. Physiotherapy alone can never achieve this.

 

References

  1. Gallantino ML, Bzdewka TM, Eissler-Russo JL, Holbrook ML, Mogck EP, Geigle P, Farrar JT. The impact of modified hatha yoga on chronic low back pain: a pilot study. Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine 2004;10(2):56-9.
  1. Dash, M., & Telles, S. (2001). Improvement in hand grip strength in normal volunteers and rheumatoid arthritis patients following yoga training. Indian journal of physiology and pharmacology, 45(3), 355-360.
  1. Cramer, H., Lauche, R., Hohmann, C., Lüdtke, R., Haller, H., Michalsen, A., … & Dobos, G. (2013). Randomized-controlled trial comparing yoga and home-based exercise for chronic neck pain. The Clinical journal of pain, 29(3), 216-223.
  2. Woodyard C. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. International Journal of Yoga. 2011;4(2):49-54. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.85485.