Yoga Therapy: Benefits, Types & Outlook
Last Updated: November 20, 2023
Yoga is often a beneficial way to supplement the addiction recovery process. When you practice yoga, it helps your mind and body work together so that you can alleviate stressful thoughts and effectively manage triggers. Addiction treatment centers often integrate holistic practices into recovery, and that means yoga is becoming increasingly recognized as a beneficial component of the recovery process.
What is Yoga Therapy?
Yoga therapy paves the way for participants to be empowered to improve their health and sense of well-being. It’s a holistic or whole-body approach to health. You can use the tools from yoga to achieve mental, physical, and emotional goals and needs. Yoga tools include physical movements and postures, breathing exercises, meditation and relaxation.
Certified yoga therapists meet with participants to create a safe and effective practice tailored to their needs. Yoga therapy is different from casually doing yoga or taking classes. There’s an emphasis on safety, learning proper form and techniques to prevent injury and helping participants meet their personal goals for wellness.
What Health Conditions Can Yoga Therapy Treat or Manage?
As well as bringing together the body and mind, yoga has extensive physical and mental health benefits, including:
- Stress relief
- Improved focus and concentration
- Better mood
- Improvement in heart and circulatory health
- Increases in energy levels
- Better metabolism
- Reduction of negative or anxious feelings and thoughts
- Pain management
- Relief from physical tension
- Alleviation of depression symptoms
- Feelings of calmness in those with trauma
What Happens During Yoga Therapy?
Before beginning yoga therapy, you meet with a yoga therapist who learns more about you. They’ll talk with you about what you hope to achieve, your health concerns and your mental and physical medical history. Then, your therapist can create a plan for practicing yoga, integrating your health, age, goals, physical needs and ability. After your session, the yoga therapist will give you a practice plan that you can do on your own to progress toward your goals.
Yoga therapy sessions will include movements and stretches to improve flexibility, balance and strength. You might practice sitting in a chair or standing with the chair for support.
Your therapist guides you through how to sit and stand properly, movements for range of motion and exercises to open you up for better breathing.
Along with the physical movements, your therapist will also guide you through breathing exercises. Breathing exercises promote stress and pain management. Your session ends with a relaxation practice.
Yoga Therapy Session Duration
A yoga therapy session will usually last for 30 to 90 minutes. Your therapist may advise you to do yoga independently between therapy sessions.
Yoga Therapy Frequency
Your yoga therapist will recommend how often to practice based on your lifestyle, goals and needs. Yoga therapists will also consult with your healthcare provider as they create a plan for you.
Risks and Benefits of Yoga Therapy
The benefits of yoga therapy are extensive, including
- Stress relief,
- Strengthening of muscles,
- Reducing pressure and pain,
- Mental clarity,
- Better balance,
- Improvements in sleep,
- Alignment so your body functions well.
There are minimal risks of yoga therapy. Yoga therapists are trained to ensure they’re creating a practice and plan that’s safe and accessible for you individually. You might feel deep stretching during yoga therapy, but never pain.
Long-Term Outlook When Doing Yoga Therapy
There’s not a particular time window where you’ll definitely start to feel better or see results. You’ll likely feel less stressed and more relaxed right after a session, so the mental health benefits tend to appear first. It can take weeks or months of regular practice to see strength, balance and other physical improvements.
There’s a sense of practice, training and patience needed for yoga. Your initial session will feel a lot different from your later sessions. As you get more experience, it’ll begin to feel more manageable, and you can do more challenging movements under the supervision of your therapist.
Your therapist guides you throughout your experience so that if something feels painful or uncomfortable, they can modify it or suggest something else.
Yoga Therapy at The Recovery Village Kansas City
Yoga therapy in addiction treatment and mental health care tends to be most effective when combined with other approaches. Yoga helps promote stress relief and mindfulness, which is helpful to prevent a relapse.
However, other things can also lead to relapse, which is why a holistic addiction treatment approach is so important. The Recovery Village Kansas City does offer yoga therapy in our addiction treatment and mental health programs. Contact a Recovery Advocate to learn more.
International Association of Yoga Therapists. “Contemporary Definitions of Yoga Therapy.” Accessed November 9, 2023.
Woodyard, Catherine. “Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life.” International Journal of Yoga, 2011. Accessed November 9, 2023.
McClafferty, Hilary. “Medical Yoga Therapy.” Children, 2017. Accessed November 9, 2023.