September 16

Integrative Yoga

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Yoga can also be used as a form of treatment (known as yoga therapy) for numerous conditions. Integrative yoga is a program that trains people to become yoga therapists, who go on to work in various fields to help people restore and balance health in the body. 

Yoga is a very popular form of light to moderate exercise and can be used to help alleviate issues like stress and sleep problems. Using asanas (poses that stretch the body and muscles) and pranayama (breathing exercises), yoga can be helpful in improving strength and flexibility. Today, yoga continues to gain traction as a type of exercise that is beneficial for everyone, as poses can be adjusted according to one’s ability to do them. Yoga can also be used as a form of treatment (known as yoga therapy) for numerous conditions. Integrative yoga is a program that trains people to become yoga therapists, who go on to work in various fields to help people restore and balance health in the body. Plenty of research demonstrates how yoga can boost your cognitive and physical well-being. Integrative yoga therapy classes are typically taught either one-on-one or in small groups so that teachers can personalize each session to students' individual needs. 

The Man Who Created Integrative Yoga  

In 1993, Joseph Le Page founded integrative yoga in order to promote health and wellness. Before integrative yoga though, he trained at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health as a yoga teacher and energy healing bodyworker. He also completed a Master’s degree in teaching and has a background in Tibetan Buddhism. After being a yoga teacher for 20 years, he decided he wanted to bring a more spiritual approach to yoga in the Western world. This led him to create integrative therapy, which has trained people all over the world. Today, Le Page is the founder and director of one of South America’s largest yoga centers, the Enchanted Mountain Yoga Center in Brazil. There, yoga classes are taught in both Portuguese and English. Le Page’s classes offer various aspects of yoga, with an emphasis on Ayurvedic and therapeutic approaches. 

What is Integrative Yoga? 

Integrative yoga teaches their students a type of yoga that is meant for the health of the whole person, creating a physical, emotional, and spiritual balance in the body. This yoga training program is known as a pioneering yoga therapy training program. The idea is that students should be able to experience yoga directly and not just theoretically from reading books. The methodology for integrative yoga allows students to naturally bring the philosophy of yoga into their daily lives so they understand yoga beyond the classroom. Integrative yoga therapy is a combination of asana (poses for stretching), pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation, yoga Nidra (a state between sleeping and waking), mudra (a symbolic or ritual gesture or pose), and mantras.  

How to Complete Integrative Yoga Therapy Training? 

Integrative Yoga Therapy is an intensive training program that creates a unique and comprehensive learning experience. Many who complete the training go on to be yoga therapists in all sorts of different fields, such as hospitals, businesses, universities, senior centers, and mental health programs. There are two non-profit organizations that certify people as yoga therapists and both have their own separate standards for qualifications. The Yoga Alliance (YA) requires registered yoga therapists to have a minimum of 200 hours of teacher training. The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) will certify a yoga therapist after they complete a minimum of 1000 hours of teacher training. The yoga therapy courses offered by the yoga center founded by Joseph Le Page is a 20-day course, where students will complete a 200-hour yoga teacher training course. An 800-hour Professional Yoga Therapist Program is offered through the Kripalu School of Integrative Yoga Therapy, which is accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists. Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health acquired Le Page’s Integrative Yoga Therapy program several years ago. 

Benefits of Yoga Therapy 

As stated earlier, research has shown time and again how beneficial yoga can be for the mind and the body. Yoga therapy uses poses, breathing exercises, and meditation to improve mental and physical health. It is designed to have therapeutic effects on the mind, body, and spirit. Modern yoga therapy brings in elements from both physical therapy and psychotherapy and is a growing field, where it is more widely accepted as a form of treatment by Western medicine. It is an individualized, personalized, and holistic approach to healthcare and can be part of a person’s individual treatment plan. Alongside strength and flexibility, yoga therapy is helpful with several conditions, including: 

Chronic Pain: lower back pain, arthritis, and premenstrual Syndrome 

Mental Health: anxiety, depression, trauma and PTSD, and insomnia 

Neurological Issues: complications of Stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS), parkinson’s disease, and traumatic brain injury 

Support for Illnesses: cancer, heart disease, and diabetes 

Medical practices that prescribe yoga therapy as part of a patient’s treatment will also ideally see the patient eating a nutritious diet, reducing caffeine intake, cutting out/reducing other substances (drugs, alcohol, and tobacco). The most effective practice will incorporate breathing techniques, postures, meditation techniques, and self-reflection to teach people how to calm themselves and lower stress levels that lead to disease. Of course, yoga therapy should not be used in place of medication or psychotherapy, but alongside those treatment options to promote optimal health.  

The Difference Between Yoga and Yoga Therapy 

While it’s easy to assume that yoga and yoga therapy are the same thing, there is actually a difference between them. While yoga can be therapeutic in nature, it is not exactly like yoga therapy. This is because yoga therapy is the direct application of yoga techniques to alleviate or improve medical conditions. Not all yoga teachers are certified yoga therapists. While most yoga teachers do receive some training in anatomy and physiology it is not at the same level as a yoga therapist. 

A major point to note is that not every pose is for everybody. Yoga teachers in a regular yoga class are not aware of people’s medical issues and may be using poses that are not appropriate for everyone. However, a yoga therapist is teaching a class with that knowledge, which is why they teach either one-on-one classes or in small groups. They will be using poses that are intended to target the specific needs of the student(s). 

What to Expect With Yoga Therapy 

The integrated approach of yoga therapy involves an initial assessment that will review your needs. The assessment will identify health problems, assess lifestyle and physical capabilities, discuss what your own goals are, and set up a treatment plan. After the treatment plan is established then the sessions can be scheduled depending on the frequency of treatment.  

During the sessions, your yoga therapist will guide you through the appropriate poses that are intended to target problem areas and teach you a series of breathing exercises. Meditation is also included for relaxation and mindfulness, which are an important part of the process. Guided imagery provides a guided visualization that is meant to establish inner peace. Sessions will also give you “homework,” as a way for you to incorporate elements from the sessions into your everyday life.  

Don’t Forget to Check Us Out 

If you are interested in integrative medicine, which combines conventional medicine and holistic therapies, and healthcare that focuses on your individual needs call Shakthi Health and Wellness Center today! Dr. Jyothi Rao is a highly skilled and experienced physician who can effectively evaluate your symptoms and optimize your body’s vitality. Call (301) 703-5067 and speak to our concierge staff to schedule your appointment today.   


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