5 Calming Benefits of Yoga Therapy

by | Dec 1, 2022 | Yoga Therapy

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Have you been feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed lately? If so, yoga therapy may be the answer for you. Yoga therapy is a form of treatment that uses yoga poses and breathing exercises to help people achieve a state of relaxation and calm. Along with this state of calm comes a series of emotional, physical, and spiritual benefits that will further improve your overall well-being.

In this article, we will discuss the top five calming benefits of yoga therapy, namely:

  • Reduced stress
  • Anxiety management
  • Chronic pain relief
  • Increased serotonin
  • Boosted self-esteem

Before we discuss the benefits in more detail, we’ll answer common questions relating to yoga therapy, such as explaining why it has a calming effect and what a standard yoga therapy session looks like. We will also explain why yoga therapy is so effective at reducing stress and anxiety, and what a standard session looks like. 

Why is Yoga Therapy So Good And Calming?

Yoga therapy is an ancient practice that has been used for centuries to promote physical and mental well-being. 

The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit root Yuj, which means “to yoke” or “to unite,” and signifies the practice’s belief that the body and mind are interconnected. By balancing the two, we can achieve optimum health. 

One of the main reasons why yoga therapy is so effective is that it offers a holistic approach to health. Rather than focusing on one symptom or disease, yoga therapy addresses the body as a whole, including the mind. 

People are able to enter a state of calm and relaxation because they are pairing controlled, deep breathing and stretches with mindfulness. As a result, you are actively working to reduce physical stress and tension while also focusing on positive mental energy.

Scientifically, the diaphragmatic breathing techniques used in yoga therapy help the human body switch from the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for “fight-or-flight” response) to the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for relaxing the body after periods of stress). 

Additionally, the physical activity required in yoga therapy promotes your body’s production of oxytocin and endorphins, which help you overcome negative emotions and physical pains, often leading the person to feel happier or even euphoric.

What Does A Yoga Therapy Session Look Like?

You’ve likely heard the terms “yoga” and “therapy” used independently of each other, but what does it mean when you put them together? What should you expect to experience, feel, and learn when you sign up for a yoga therapy session?

A yoga therapy session is an opportunity for you to focus on your individual needs and goals. The therapist will meet with you to discuss your concerns and develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs, while also aligning with the practice’s values. 

During a session, you will be guided through a series of gentle yoga poses paired with breath work, meditation, and other techniques, each specifically chosen by your yoga therapist to help you achieve whatever goal the two of you discussed. This could be anything from reducing your stress levels to alleviating pains from an old injury or chronic illness. 

Your yoga therapist will ensure you are able to perform every pose safely and correctly, before giving you the additional skills and teachings you need to be able to apply these poses and body-awareness practice to your everyday life.  

5 Calming Benefits of Yoga Therapy

There are several therapeutic effects of yoga therapy, many of which have been supported by extensive scientific research. 

Regardless of personal goals or struggles, most people who attend yoga therapy sessions agree that it has helped them achieve one or more of the calming benefits listed below. 

  • Reduced stress
  • Anxiety management
  • Chronic pain relief
  • Increased serotonin
  • Boosted self-esteem

If you’re curious how this happens, read on as we discuss each benefit in more detail. We’ll provide a scientific explanation for each and discuss what life challenges the can help you overcome.

1. Reduced Stress

We discussed earlier how yoga therapy can help your body shift from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic system, and this is the predominant way that it reduces your overall stress. 

The slow, deep diaphragmatic breathing techniques you perform will lower your heart rate and blood pressure, while this system shift lowers your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone that your body releases when it’s under stress, and it can have a negative effect on your overall well-being, especially when it is released regularly. 

By performing specific poses and techniques in yoga therapy, you’ll be able to will your body on a chemical level to enter a calmer state. Of course, there is also the mental aspect as well. A significant contributor to stress is the mental aspect of constantly dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Meditation and mindfulness help you accept things as they are and stay in the present moment. 

2. Anxiety Management

Like stress, anxiety can be a constant and even debilitating factor in everyday life. Luckily, it too can be overcome and managed using yoga therapy.

In fact, anxiety is often a result of stress, and so, if you can reduce your body’s stress levels using yoga therapy in the ways we discussed previously, you’ll likely reduce your anxiety levels as well. This intense emotion is also affected by the posterior or sympathetic area of the hypothalamus, which can be inhibited with mindfulness, deep breathing, and other coping and management techniques. 

Research has even shown that practices of trauma-sensitive yoga used in yoga therapy have benefited individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because it helps reduce the overactivation of their sympathetic nervous system.

Anxiety can also be a side effect of a larger physical health problem that yoga therapy might be able to help you overcome by increasing your strength and flexibility and/or reducing pain. 

It can also help you train your body and mind to react differently when faced with anxiety-producing situations, allowing you to respond with a calmer attitude and a more composed or positive mindset.

Check out this article on grounding yoga poses for anxiety.

3. Chronic Pain Relief

A significant number of people seek out assistance from yoga therapists to help them manage their chronic pain. 

They are often able to achieve this to some degree by:

  • increasing their body’s strength and flexibility
  • improving their posture
  • realigning body parts
  • releasing tension in muscles

Reducing or completely alleviating pain that your body has been experiencing for extended periods allows it to settle into a calmer, happier state, and might resolve associated mental challenges, such as stress, anxiety, and depression.

4. Increased Serotonin

Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter that can also act as a hormone. It’s primary functions in the body are to aid in mood stabilization, learning/memory, and healing, the calming effect people seem to recognize the most is that the increased serotonin levels they produce during yoga therapy results in a general feeling of happiness and reduction in anxiety.

This is another reason why individuals with depression benefit from yoga therapy, as the mood stabilization and increased happiness that comes with boosted serotonin activity in your brain can overshadow general feelings of hopelessness and sadness.

5. Boosted Self-Esteem

Yoga therapy can increase confidence and self-esteem in its practitioners in so many way. Most people who start yoga therapy sessions are beginners. Not only do they slowly learn how to perform and master various yoga poses and techniques, but they also reap the physical and mental benefits of this activity as well. 

From improved physical strength and flexibility to elimination of pain to a calmer state of mind, there is a lot to be proud of during one’s yoga therapy journey. 

Making progress in such a tangible way helps to build feelings of accomplishment and joy that empower individuals to take on more responsibility and tackle goals in other areas of their lives. 

Utilizing the teachings and coping mechanism they learn from yoga therapy in their daily life also helps them feel in control now that they have the tools they need to ensure they are in charge of their struggles, not the other way around.

Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Yoga Therapy

Yoga therapy might not be for everyone, but there’s no denying that for a significant number of people, it has proven to be a safe and effective way to promote physical and mental health. If you are feeling weighed down or beaten by life and its challenges, yoga therapy might be worth exploring. You never know; it could be the key to unlocking your own inner calmness.

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