Yoga for Healing: Why Doctors Are Now Prescribing Yoga Therapy
Over the past couple decades, Medicine has come a long way to help treat general health and the condition of the human body. However, despite the discoveries and achievements, medicine does have setbacks. For example, the opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing issues in the U.S at the moment. As of March, of this year, more than 115 American will overdose on opioids every day, due to the fact that painkillers are inherently addicting, readily accessible, and easy to abuse. Doctors have become so concerned over the spikes of deaths and overdose statistics, that they have been turning to alternative measures such as Yoga therapy to help their patients. Furthermore, patients may suffer mental illness in conjunction with a physical condition – which poses the question: where does a doctor begin to approach these circumstances?
In today’s world of modern medicine, one of the main strategies that can reverse the damage of disease and illness is the implementation of holistic treatment. Holistic treatment is a type of healing that focuses on treating a person’s mind, body, and spirit in addition to their ailment. More often than not, holistic treatments such as yoga, homeopathy, and acupuncture are met with skepticism and even criticism. But today, holistic treatment, particularly yoga therapy, is quickly establishing itself as a reliable method to treat and alleviate disease.
Doctors are favoring yoga therapy as a legitimate form of treatment because the therapy focuses on equally improving both the mind and body of an individual and tailors to approaching the individual’s unique factors regarding their condition as opposed to providing them with generalized treatments options.
Yoga therapy is gaining momentum in the health world
The Yoga Journal conducted a survey in 2004 asking if readers did yoga for health-related circumstances; only 5% said “yes” to that statement. However, in 2016, the Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance Joint Yoga found that 50% of the participators in the survey implemented yoga into their lives to improve their overall health – which is more than triple the number of individuals from 2004! Fortunately, that number has also been increasing exponentially over the years.
Additionally, yoga-related research has been receiving a gradual increase in funding in medical divisions. In 2010, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center was given over $4.5 million – singlehandedly one of the largest and most generous yoga-related grants in history – from the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute that sought to propel a treatment program forward for breast cancer patients. Through the research, it was concluded that the breast cancer patients combining yoga therapy with their radiation therapy have significantly reduced levels of stress and fatigue, as well as live a more satisfying quality of life.
Moreover, in July 2017, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine conducted an experiment which found that individuals who suffered low back pain and completed a 12-week two-hour yoga program reported having less pain than their counterparts who had only received medication, basic physical therapy, and exercised. The patients who did yoga had also reported that they improved their joint mobility and strengthened their core in addition to lowering their ability to experience pain, stress, and tension through relaxation and breathing techniques.
Yoga’s philosophy from a medical standpoint
Any form of a physical or psychological ailment will take a toll on a person’s well-being at some point or another. Yoga therapy is able to approach that matter, as well as encourage an individual to develop the emotional resilience to overcome their ailment.
For example, take the circumstance of an individual recovering from a severe car accident that left their back to endure chronic pain the rest of their lives. They endure not only frustration and sadness but are physically incapable of physically functioning like their past self. Anyone in that situation would feel discouraged, lost, and angry. For them, yoga therapy can come into the picture by giving them an alternative strategy besides physical therapy to gradually improve physical movement through specific asanas (poses) that work injured muscles, intentionally relax areas of their body that suffer extreme tension, and bring awareness to their emotional and mental state of mind.
The gentle nature of yoga therapy helps them to continuously develop emotional and physical resilience, cultivate a headspace of empathy, acceptance, and understanding for their circumstance, and enhance their abilities of self-awareness and introspection – all of which also reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety. Evidently, because yoga therapy emphasizes nurturing the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of one’s conditions, the individual devotes equal attention to amending each element to affect the others positively.
Yoga therapy has a promising future
It is inevitable that holistic treatments, especially yoga therapy, will be met with skepticism. However, over time, it has earned its place as a method of healing that has legitimate evidence to supports its philosophy and is a highly-beneficial practice to implement into one’s life that not only treats illness but enhances one’s overall quality of living.
ContributorTrevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic whose been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.