5 Ways Combining Yoga and Physical Therapy Promote Better Healing

When healing from an injury, there is much more at play than just the one body part that has been affected. As whole human beings, many things can affect our healing processes, which is why the integration of yoga and physical therapy into one’s treatment plan can provide a more holistic approach.

In several clinical studies, yoga has been shown to improve strength, flexibility, heart rate variability, cardiovascular function, digestive function, sleep patterns, mood, appetite, immune function, relaxation, self-awareness, acceptance, and quality of life. It has been proven to decrease pain, edema, resting heart rate, stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, frustration, impatience, and fear avoidance.

Yoga, meaning to yoke or to unite, originated several thousands of years ago as a practice to harmonize mind, body, and spirit. Yoga has evolved greatly over the years and encompasses a wide variety of practices with countless benefits. Several elements of yoga are directly beneficial in influencing and improving health and wellness, especially when combining yoga and physical therapy.

5 Ways Combining Yoga and Physical Therapy Promote Better Healing

  1. Mindfulness: Awareness of the present moment and how you are interacting with it. Noticing and being in tune with what and how you are feeling without judgment. Re-orienting the focus through guided imagery and cues.
  2. Postural alignment: Holding the body in optimal positions to allow for full motion and muscle recruitment and to prevent and avoid injury. This is especially important with any position that will be held for a prolonged period of time in daily life and when performing exercises, which is crucial when using yoga and physical therapy in your recovery process.
  3. Breathwork: Yoga uses a variety of breathwork techniques to teach deep, easeful breathing. This is vital to fill the entire body with nourishment using the proper breathing muscles (namely the diaphragm and intercostals) and avoid overuse or compensations with accessory muscles of the neck, chest, ribs, abdominals, and back, which can lead to further dysfunction.
  4. Asana: Physical postures that build range of motion, flexibility, strength, balance, coordination, and endurance. Asanas can be used to orient the body in a way to lengthen restricted fascial lines and planes in the body (the whole-body linkages and connections of your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia), allowing for myofascial release and better functional movement from each link in the chain. Modifications and props are used as necessary to meet the individual wherever they currently are which, when practicing yoga and physical therapy, helps avoid straining while striving towards any particular posture.
  5. Neurological rewiring: Teaching the body to move into positions (asanas) with mindfulness, correct postural alignment, and proper breathing patterns, allows it to move past fear avoidance and experience motion with less or no pain. Repeatedly practicing this balances the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous systems, helps the body to learn over time not to be afraid of movement and rewires the neurological response so that pain is not the predominant expected experience in certain positions or with specific movements.

If you’re interested in a treatment approach that combines yoga and physical therapy, schedule an appointment with our yoga-trained physical therapist today. You can give us a call or complete the form below.

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