Yoga as therapy

Yoga Chikitsa

Ashtanga is a traditional form of hatha yoga and is among a rare few that could be considered a science, continually proving itself as a way to create and maintain well-being on many levels. In India, this science has been passed down from teacher to student for hundreds of generations, keeping this practice refined and alive. Ashtanga’s primary series is known as yoga chikitsa, literally “yoga therapy.” The practice encompasses a broad range of physical yogic practices which promote balance physically, mentally, and spiritually. Hence it is inherently theraputic. Struggle is an inevitable piece of the human experience, and a mindful yoga practice offers the space to face any type of difficulty. Whether training for a marathon or preparing for another round of chemo, energy and consciouness can facilitate any training or healing process.

Everyone responds to yoga differently. Just like a single pill can’t cure an illness, no single yoga pose or class will fix destructive patterns of behavior. Rather than limiting oneself to specific kinds of classes, such as “Yoga for [body part]” or “Yoga for [illness]“, a more whole-istic approach is more effective. Healing involves the whole body, the whole mind, the whole self. More importantly, the process takes time. Yoga is the antithesis to instant gratification—longer to occur, longer to remain.

… the lack of optimum physical health often proves to be the root of most ailments and imbalances…

Because Ashtanga requires students to practice consistent sequences of poses, this idea can seem counterintuitive. Yoga chikitsa works on everyone because it targets the foundation of physical health: the body’s various systems (such as circulatory and digestive) functioning fully. In other words, the lack of optimum physical health often proves to be the root of most ailments and imbalances, physical or otherwise. All yoga enables the body to become stronger and more flexible, and Ashtanga combines that strength and flexibility with pranayama (breathwork) to allow openings on multiple levels.

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