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What is Therapeutic Yoga?

Therapeutic Yoga is an integral part of yoga in the modern world. The practice helps those recovering from or living with injuries and illnesses. It see’s yoga as a form of deep therapy in healing the body and mind. Therapeutic yoga uses alignment principles and tailored programs as an alternative way to treat physical and emotional issues.

Healthcare professionals are increasingly using yoga to support healing and recovery. Yoga has been shown to help with conditions like sciatica, stress, high blood pressure, and arthritis. Its increasing popularity in health can be linked to the growing availability of evidence.

What is the evidence for Therapeutic Yoga for Stress?

There are a number of research papers looking the benefits of therapeutic yoga and its application with health conditions. However, today we are going to focus on its role therapeutic yoga for stress. Stress is a condition that affects almost all of us and a great place to start.

A study by Martarelli in 2011 looked at how diaphragmatic breathing reduced exercise-induced stress. The study found that breathing to increase relaxation was effective for the athletes following an intensive exercise program. It found participants had reduced cortisol levels and raised melatonin levels.

Cortisol is the ‘stress hormone’. It causes blood sugar to increase and suppresses the immune system. Too much of this hormone is linked to chronic diseases. This study also infers that cortisol is a major factor in oxidative stress. On the contrary, Melatonin is an antioxidant and regulates sleep. During periods of high stress, sleep patterns can become irregular. This, in turn, affects our ability to relax and feel calm. The breathing techniques used as part of yoga increase melatonin production and therefore reduce stress.

While we have only scratched the surface of the research available, we can see from this study that and similar ones, a correlation between the healing effects of yoga and a reduction in stress.

Author: Alexa Kho-Hinkson – Yoga Instructor and Therapeutics Specialist

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