Yoga is a way to re-create the body so that it serves a higher purpose;
to fine-tune ourselves with existence so that everything functions
naturally and harmoniously and we live to the best of our ability.
~Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, modern day Yogi and mystic
Yoga is a spiritual discipline that involves mental, physical and behavioural processes and practices. All methods aim to create harmony between the body and mind, elevate and expand the spirit, and realise our ultimate nature. Plus, Yoga practice provides countless side-benefits.
While traditional Yoga is primarily concerned with healthy individuals, the main concern of modern Yoga therapy, or Yoga chikitsa is correcting the mental and physical issues of ailing individuals to a state of holistic balance. Today Yoga therapy is an emerging field, in the process of defining itself both in India and the West. Around twenty years back Yoga therapy was accepted by the Government of India, Ministry of Health, as an indigenous Medical System.
While there are many schools of Yoga (Raja, Jnana, Bhakti, Karma, etc), Yoga therapy, with its emphasis on integration of mind, breath and body is most aligned with Hatha Yoga, the “forceful Yoga” that aims to perfect the physical body as a pathway to the Divine. In everyday terms, Hatha Yoga and Yoga therapy aim to develop power, purity and harmony between all bodily and mental functions, especially via the nervous system and subtle channels. They aspire to create a joyful, adaptable, vibrant way of feeling and living across all levels of being—physical, vital, mental, emotional, social and spiritual.
As short-term therapeutic tools and long-term lifestyle practices I primarily work with Hatha Yoga processes taught by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, founder of the Bihar School of Yoga, in Munger, India; B.K.S. Iyengar, founder of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, India; and Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, living Yogi and mystic, and founder of the Isha Yoga Centre in Coimbatore, India.
As a physical therapy, I teach Yoga to help improve flexibility, strength, stamina, digestion, immune function, blood pressure, heart health, relaxation and sleep; and decrease bodily weakness, discomfort, imbalance and disease. I also use Yoga practices to facilitate natural processes such pregnancy and ageing, and nurture mental benefits including higher moods, more stable emotions, and greater peace and clarity. I help individuals to apply skills selected from Yoga’s eight-limb path, including:
Associated methods include:
Other important aspects of Yoga therapy include:
In Yoga, true healing begins with self-awareness. In addition to diagnosis and individualised guidance, as a therapist I hold space for people to delve more deeply into themselves, perceive more clearly their internal environment, understand their personal needs, build self-empowerment and motivation, and actively release and take on what the mind/body system requires in order to rebalance. Beyond physical and mental healing, Yoga is a life-long inwardly transforming and self-realization tool.
As a sister science of Āyurveda, Yoga is an integral aspect of Ayurvedic therapies, and knowledge of Ayurveda strengthens Yoga practices. All Yoga therapy approaches are chosen based on each person’s unique Ayurvedic dosha or constitution, and individual health and lifestyle needs. All methods are chosen and adapted to serve the person; not the person adopting a method.
I prefer to work with people one-to-one, and occasionally in small groups. I also carry out online consultations. Explore consultation options here.
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In mantra, the “man” refers to the mind, and “tra” to protection. Mantra protects the mind of the one who does it. In Yoga traditions, mantras are an advanced practice, given according to each person’s spiritual predisposition and chosen pathway. In Āyurveda, mantras are given to individuals to help rebalance the doshas and mental qualities (sattva, rajas and tamas).
As a therapy, I use mantras to:
Mantras (and also mudras and Yoga Nidra) originate from Tantra, an ancient Indian spiritual philosophy and practice that delineates rules and processes for safe and full living. Tantra emphasises personal experimentation and experience as a way to move forward on the spiritual path.
Mantras can be a single syllable or sound (known as a bija [seed] mantra), or incorporate many words and syllables—all of which must be pronounced perfectly in their original Sanskrit language.
When uttered for a period daily, each mantrum creates specific vibrations that, if chosen and performed correctly, can change the physical chemistry and metabolism, mental functions and patterns, and affect the soul’s deepest expressions.
As therapy, I may suggest specific mantras to be repeated once or twice daily for five or more minutes, over a period of one to two months.
The Sanskrit word mudra can be broken down to “mud” (rhymes with ‘could’) to mean delight, and “dra” meaning to draw forth. Mudras are a subtle gesture or attitude that draws forth delight.
In therapeutic practice, I use mudras to:
Mudras promote happiness by sealing in and redirecting the flow of vital life-force throughout the body, to stimulate specific mental, emotional, sensory, and meditational states.
A mudra can involve posturing the whole body or face, but are most commonly applied as simple hand gestures, held for some time while seated.
As therapy, I may suggest specific mudras to be held once or twice daily for five or more minutes. Specific mudras can be incorporated while practicing mantra repetition.
The Sanskrit root of Kriya is “kri”—to do, act and react. Kriya Yoga involves certain actions or practices that concentrate and master flows of vital life-force to accelerate spiritual development. Kriya Yoga practices are also highly beneficial for mental and physical wellbeing. Specific techniques often involve series of prānayāmā, mantra, and mudra.
Traditionally the practices of Kriya Yoga were well-guarded secrets communicated via a guru-disciple relationship. Today Kriya Yoga practices continue to be well-guarded, ideally communicated only to those who make a genuine commitment.