Yoga for healing

Yoga for healing


Posted by: The personal injury help and advice team

Many consider yoga as a mainstream fad rather than a traditional and legitimate therapy. With its associated stereotypes of green politics, veganism and spirituality, it isn’t often thought of as a meaningful exercise. But rather than being a modern trend, yoga is rooted in a deep history and is proven to activate the body and mind, cultivate energy, calm the nervous system and release endorphins.

Mental health

The meditative poses and breathing techniques help to focus on the present moment, relax the mind, interrupt unhealthy thought patterns, and improve sleep.  Vernon Kenny, a fitness teacher based in London, discusses how yoga saved him from depression and substance abuse:

“Yoga helped me because smoking and drinking were just a manifestation of my desire for happiness and, as I became more happy and contented, I realised that I didn’t need these substances anymore.

Yoga brings you into a deep sense of relaxation physically and that creates more space for you mentally. I started to understand that there was no satisfaction in trying to find happiness outside myself, for example through material possessions; all this stuff brought only temporary happiness.”

Physical health

Whilst mindfulness and breathing are a key aspect, improving mental health significantly, the physical benefits shouldn’t be overlooked or considered lesser than other forms of exercise. The first notable physical changes from practising are core strength, flexibility and muscle toning; these are developed from yoga and not needed to start.

As a beginner, the exercise may light a fire in your belly and make your body shake; this energy is called ‘prānā’, an ancient Hindu concept first referred to over 3000 years ago. Like waterways or electric networks, this energy travels through the body’s channels during the exercise, which is cleansing for many.

Cyndi Roberts, an instructor from Connecticut, explains how yoga can be a vital healing process:

“Your body wants to heal. That’s its default response. Therapeutic yoga is a natural way to help that process to take place. I have personally healed injuries to my neck and shoulders, hamstring, SI joint, knee, and have found relief from almost a decade of chronic back pain stemming from a horrible car accident. Therapeutic yoga created the space I needed for true healing and actually eased the pain on a deeper level.”

Yoga poses

The exercise is based on various poses (asanas) and the flow between them, paired with breathing techniques (prānāyāmas). Below are some resting floor poses which can be practised from a few seconds to several minutes.

Child’s pose (Bālāsana)

Benefits: a nurturing posture which supports the torso, head and neck, elongates and reduces compression in the lower back and opens the hips.

1 – Place your hands and knees on the floor in a table-top position

2 – Widen your knees so that your big toes touch, then sit on your heels

3 – Bow forwards, draping your torso between the thighs and your head on the ground

Cobra (Bhujangasana) 

Benefits: increases the flexibility of the spine, strengthens the shoulders, opens the lungs and stimulates the abdominal organs improving digestion.

1 – Lay face-down with your tummy on the ground and legs extended behind you

2 – Place your hands under your shoulders, palms down with fingers facing forward

3 – Lift your head and chest from the floor with your shoulders drawn back

Downward facing dog (Adho mukha śvānāsana)

Benefits: flushes energy through the body, builds the core and strengthens the back, arms and legs.

1 – Place your hands and knees on the floor in a table-top position

2 – Lift your knees away from the floor bringing your hips upwards and extending your legs

3 – Come off your forearms onto your hands, face them slightly outwards and press into the fingers

YouTube channels such as Yoga with Adriene provide visual examples of how to adopt each pose and make the exercise accessible for anyone with an internet connection. So practise completely for free, at home, in your pyjamas if you wish. Online tutorials help to remove external pressures and feelings of judgement, and can fit completely around your day.

Adriene’s 30-day challenges mean you can track your progress, work towards goals and feel motivated to do a little each day. The Youtube channel aims to make yoga a readily available and universal tool to improve daily life; from Yoga for Self Doubt to Yoga for Scoliosis to Yoga for Migraines, the channel has it covered. With time, yoga can become an independent exercise without the need for online guidance and for many, a lifestyle choice.

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2 years ago

Great article!