Yoga is an ancient practice that involves a series of movements and postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama) and periods of meditation that foster a deeper connection with oneself. The word yoga means “connect” or “union”. Yoga connects the body, mind, soul and breath, seeking harmony and concentration, without mental distractions. Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. People who follow the discipline closely observe a number of beliefs and practices, including ethics, food and spirituality.
There are many different forms of yoga. Some types emphasize physical poses and alignment. Other types focus on the mastery and awareness of breathing, and still others place a stronger emphasis on meditation, philosophy, selfless service or purification techniques. Hatha yoga is the most common form practiced in North America in yoga studios. It is also a general term for all forms of yoga that involve the adoption of classical yoga postures and breathing methods. The types of hatha yoga are, for example, Iyengar yoga, restorative, Sivananda, Kundalini and Anusara, to name a few.
You can learn yoga from books or videos, but it is best to learn in the company of a qualified yoga teacher in a group or in private individual lessons. You reduce your risk of injury and make sure you learn the proper poses and breathing techniques.
You may feel more comfortable attending private sessions with a certified yoga therapist. Therapeutic yoga, or yogatherapy, is the use of yoga philosophy, poses, methods of breathing and meditation for certain diseases or dysfunctions. Therapeutic yoga is done in individual session that appeals to all layers of your being: mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. A yogatherapist can come to your home to help you with specific issues. For example, a yogatherapist can work with you when you feel physically weak or fragile, feel physical or emotional pain, or want to boost your immune system or manage stress better. Yogatherapists often work on anxiety,
As with any new exercise program or mental health intervention, it is best to discuss with your health care team whether yoga is safe for you. It may also be a good idea to ask the yogatherapist to contact your health care team.