Medical yoga has been touted as an incredible way to reduce stress on the body, prevent and potentially treat physical illness as well as imbalances in the emotional system. But what is it, and how might it help you?
Medical Yoga is a holistic and highly individualized treatment programme that incorporates the key yogic elements of postures, breathing and mindfulness techniques.
It has been shown to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as reducing high blood pressure.
Medical Yoga Therapy is prescribed by a qualified physician.
It can be used alongside conventional drug treatments and psychotherapy.
What is Medical Yoga?
Medical Yoga Therapy is the application of yogic principles for the prevention and potential treatment of a variety of medical conditions. In general, the practice is not as physically dynamic as regular yoga classes, and includes a set of additional elements.
Beyond the physical elements of a classical yoga posture practice, Medi Yoga incorporates breathing techniques, meditation, mindfulness and self reflection to achieve the maximum possible benefit for the patient.
The treatment aims to create ease within the mental and physical states of the body, combined with a sense of spiritual well-being. It can be performed sitting, standing and even laying down.
What conditions can Medical Yoga help with?
A general yoga practice has been shown to improve mobility, flexibility and strength. The application and design of a Medi Yoga program of care can help relieve symptoms of:
- Stress-related illnesses
- High blood pressure
- General aches and pains
- Chronic pain conditions, such as lower back pain
- Respiratory issues
- Digestive conditions aggravated by stress, such as irritable bowel syndrome
This is by no means an exhaustive list. However, it goes some way in describing the vast array of issues that could benefit from Medi Yoga.
Who provides Medical Yoga Therapy?
Physicians with specific Medi Yoga training will design a programme of care that is highly individualized and based on a person’s specific needs. The idea is to create a regime that is holistic and takes into account the mind, body and spirit.
The prescribing physician will also delve into the person’s family life, support networks, work circumstances and their culture. The holistic approach is considered beneficial as it looks at multiple elements in the lives of patients - designing systems that reduce stressors and encourage support in the environment.
For example, if the physician is prescribing a programme for a person with anxiety, they will incorporate postures, breathing techniques and mindfulness practices that are specifically designed to help with nervous system regulation.
What are the essential elements of Medi Yoga?
Practitioners and physicians who prescribe Medical Yoga to their patients describe the practice as having ‘ingredients’. These are the appropriate use of:
Postures - specific yoga poses that will help with the individual's physical needs.
Breathing techniques - a variety of different breathwork exercises that have been shown to help with particular issues.
Meditation - a powerful way to de-stress, calm and regulate the nervous system.
Mindfulness - becoming aware of certain patterns of behavior, increasing compassion and empathy for the self and others.
Self reflection and study - the practice of looking inward and charting progress with the specific programme of Medi Yoga prescribed.
Nourishing diet - the delivery of essential nutrients to support the entire body system.
Relationship improvement - taking a look at family and friendship circles and making communication improvements where possible.
Support networks - ensuring there is a supportive environment for the individual to make progress with their programme of care.
Following the individual recipe is vital to the success of a personal Medi Yoga plan.
What are the benefits of Medi Yoga?
As well as the obvious improvements in strength and flexibility that come from a regular practice of yoga postures, Medi Yoga offers a whole host of additional benefits.
The meditation and mindfulness aspects in Medi Yoga are used to train the patient's mind. By practicing these techniques, repetitive thought streams and negative ways of thinking can be reduced. These practices build resilience and offer the patient new ways of dealing with environmental stressors and triggers for anxiety.
Self reflection may also uncover the original causes of anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. It’s important to note that Medi Yoga is an excellent complementary therapy that works well alongside both medication and psychotherapy.
Medi Yoga mitigates and improves the harmful effects of stress on the body. Our systems are not designed to handle prolonged periods of stress. The body responds with changes to immune system function, digestion and energy expenditure and storage. Over time, the cumulative build up of stress responses can lead to illness.
Learning effective ways to deal with stress, as well as calming and regulating the nervous system can have a profound effect on the body’s ability to heal and deal with stressors.
The science behind Medi Yoga
A study found that patients who partook in a Medi Yoga plan for 12 weeks showed improvements in their health-related quality of life and systolic blood pressure. These results are encouraging for the use of Medi Yoga to improve the quality of life for those with cardiovascular diseases.
Harvard Medical School published that yoga increases the number of brain cell connections. Such an increase leads to improved cognitive skills such as learning and memory. It has also been demonstrated that regular practitioners of yoga retain a thicker prefrontal cortex which typically declines with age.
There is no doubt that yoga is beneficial to the body and brain. Visiting a qualified Medi Yoga physician, or finding a Medical Yoga Therapy center near you could be valuable for many health conditions.