Therapeutic yoga can provide stress-reducing benefits, improve your well being and alleviate stored muscle tension and pain. Setting time aside for this practice regularly will help you the next time your back is aching or you just can't take someone else barking at you, whether it be your boss or child. You'll be able to handle that stress better, so you will not feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.
About Therapeutic Yoga
Therapeutic yoga combines breathing and relaxation techniques with restorative yoga poses -- usually performed using props, such as blankets and blocks -- to promote easier breathing, relaxation, and stress and pain relief. The use of props helps you hold the stretches longer, enabling your muscles to totally relax and stretch to their fullest extent. According to therapeutic yoga practitioner and certified Kripalu yoga instructor Marie-Daphné Roy, therapeutic yoga may also help alleviate ailments such as insomnia, backache, anxiety and respiratory or digestive problems. (See Reference 1)
Restorative Yoga Poses
Restorative yoga poses may seem easy and almost deceptively simple, but they can produce profound results. These poses are designed to facilitate relaxation, calm your mind and body, settle your nervous system and increase circulation to the pelvic area, according to yoga therapist Sue Dumais in an article for Yoga U. (See Reference 2) Beneficial restorative poses include Child's pose, Savasana, and Legs-Up-the-Wall pose. In fact, renowned yoga instructors Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman call Legs-Up-the-Wall one of "the most therapeutic poses in yoga - allowing you to fully relax and rejuvenate in less time than a nap." (See Reference 3)
Importance of Breathing
When performing restorative yoga poses, cultivating an attitude of mindfulness and using proper breathing techniques are key. One of the principles of yoga is that the breath is the link between the mind and the body. By practicing yogic breathing, you can enhance the therapeutic benefits of the poses. According to yoga therapist and therapeutic yoga instructor John Grimes, proper breathing stimulates your relaxation response and may stimulate the flow of energy in your body. (See Reference 4) Yogic breathing involves slow, deep, controlled breaths that stem from your abdominal area.
Consult a qualified instructor with therapeutic yoga experience to learn the proper alignment and how to use props during restorative yoga poses. If you have any physical condition that may affect your ability to perform certain poses, consult your doctor before beginning a therapeutic yoga program. According to yoga instructor Sara Duke on her website, Do Restorative Yoga, restorative yoga poses may be contraindicated for people with degenerative bone disease, hiatal hernias, retinal problems, glaucoma, migraines, heart problems, neck problems or infections in the head or for those who are pregnant or menstruating. (See Reference 5)
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.