Restorative Yoga for physical therapy

How Restorative Yoga Can Help Your Physical Therapy Patients

Melanie Schorr, a restorative yoga specialist at yogatailor, talks about how therapeutic yoga can help and speed up the recovery of physical therapy patients. She also cautions against some forms of yoga which might not be appropriate for patients recovering from injury.

What is Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga is a slow form of yoga that uses props to help aid in relaxing and holding each asana (pose) in the sequence. It is a gentle form of yoga that is based on Hatha Yoga, designed to aid in healing of injured muscles, tendons, and bones. It also helps to relieve pain by building strength around injured areas, thus taking the pressure off.

It is a unique form of yoga that involves doing fewer asanas, but holding them for longer periods of time. The best way to describe it is somewhere between Iyengar and Hatha Yoga. It also triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which responds by fighting stress on the body, both physically and mentally. This creates an overall feeling of well-being and calmness. It relaxes the nervous system, which then comforts the body and the mind.

It is a unique form of yoga that involves doing fewer asanas, but holding them for longer periods of time. The best way to describe it is somewhere between Iyengar and Hatha Yoga. It also triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which responds by fighting stress on the body, both physically and mentally. This creates an overall feeling of well-being and calmness. It relaxes the nervous system, which then comforts the body and the mind.

Building awareness through movement

Some practitioners refer to Restorative Yoga as Mindful Yoga, as it helps those with injuries to expand their awareness of their body and their injury, as well as the connection between the mind and the pain that they are feeling. Slower movements combined with breath work helps to relax the mind and the body, aiding in creating awareness of what is going on throughout the healing process. In simple terms, practitioners begin to feel and be more aware of themselves and learn to adapt and help alleviate pain in their everyday lives.

The pace of Restorative Yoga opens the doorway to those that practice, resulting in them having a better understanding of their body. They have more awareness of what is going on and be able to work around their injury and pain. Restorative Yoga will also strengthen the body and thus, alleviate pain after an injury. Practitioners of this form of yoga become aware of their actions and how to deal with pain and discomfort in a more positive way. The asanas and breathing allow practitioners to become more mindful of their actions not only on the yoga mat, but also off of it.

No pain no gain? Think again

Unlike some other forms of yoga, Restorative Yoga is against the ‘no-pain-no-gain’ mentality. Instead, it creates a way to achieve benefits through releasing and surrendering to an asana, as opposed to forcing the body into each pose. This allows practitioners to accept the limitations of their body, thus helping to strengthen it. When comfort is the main key, acceptance will then naturally be the result of regularly practicing Restorative Yoga.

Yoga means to bind or unite, which is exactly what Restorative Yoga is all about. It helps practitioners reconnect with their body and mind, and the connection between the two. This is especially true when dealing with pain or an injury. It aids in flexibility, balance, strength and awareness, creating overall well-being. It also aids in self-transformation, as it connects to the physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological aspects of one’s life.

How can restorative yoga help your physical therapy patients

Restorative Yoga makes people more aware of their body and manipulate the muscles in a way that alleviates pain in specific areas. As a physical therapy patient, this means that practicing Restorative Yoga will aid in the overall healing of an injury and allow patients to continue their practice in the long-term.

In doing Restorative Yoga, physical therapy patients learn what works for them and their specific injuries. As a result, they learn how to deal with and live with their pain or injury on a daily basis, which could, in reality, last for the rest of their life.

Restorative Yoga is an excellent enhancer of physical therapy, as it will help patients to learn more about their body and pain on a more mental level. It will improve overall focus, stability, flexibility and strength, which will carry over into their physical therapy treatment.

At the end of the day, getting better and feeling positive is the end result of any physical therapy patient. Restorative Yoga will help patients get to this point in their lives, where they feel more positive about themselves and learn how to deal with their injury in a positive way.

Restorative Yoga teaches people to be more aware of their body and the connection between the body and the mind. As a physical therapist, this should be the ultimate goal of all of your patients. By combining the two, patients are able to move forward in their lives and learn how to cope and be aware of what is going on with their body.

Things to be Aware of for your physical therapy patients

Not all yoga is good for physical therapy patients. Certain styles of yoga, like Bikram and Ashtanga, actually push or force the body to do things that are not completely natural, which could injure a patient further. It is important for your patients to choose yoga styles wisely, and, if possible, even opt for private yoga sessions with an experienced teacher that knows how to work with injuries.

Anatomy is a big part of yoga, though not all yoga teachers have a lot of anatomy training. It is important for you to seek out a properly trained, highly experienced teacher that has knowledge of anatomy, the effects of certain asanas on the body, and good training in adjustments. By selecting the right teacher you can be sure that your patients will be in good hands. Having an inexperienced or unknowledgeable yoga teacher can lead to more problems down the road.

Having a yoga teacher that you can trust and refer patients to will have a really positive effect on them and their recovery. It will help them in the long-term, as they can continue their yoga practice long after their physical therapy is completed.
Once your patients are practicing a regular yoga routine, with asanas done properly for their particular injury, they may want to try to branch out on their own.

This is often the case once patients are ready to get back to their everyday lives. A great way for them to continue their practice even when on the go is by downloading a yoga app, like those offered by Yoga Tailor, who do have specialized sequences for pain management.

Personal Stories

There is a ton of proof out there that Yoga does improve injuries and aid in physical therapy treatment. For example, Elise Mitchell; a health and wellness coordinator, found yoga after breaking her neck as a result of a car accident. You can read her story here:  Dr. Ginger Garner; a DPT and yoga teacher, has a long history of dealing with people with chronic pain. She decided to use yoga as a way to treat her patients, and it worked. You can read about it here:

Conclusion

A combination of physical therapy and Restorative Yoga is a match made in heaven for any PT patient. Both are similar, in terms of healing and alleviating stress on the body, though they are also quite different. Physical therapy focuses on the specific injury itself, while Restorative Yoga works on the body as a whole, as well as focusing the mind. Combined, they create an overall feeling of achievement and well-being, which in turn creates awareness and self-esteem.

About Yogatailor

Yogatailor is the leading platform for online restorative yoga and healing mindfulness. Their flagship app creates customized and personalized programs based on user settings and then adapts based on the users progress. The app takes care of modalities like back pain, shoulder stress, lack of sleep and also caters to all levels – beginners to expert yogis.

About Melanie Schorr

Melanie Schorr
Melanie is a yoga teacher, a writer and a motorcyclist. She is a yoga expert at yogatailor.com. She has been inspiring and teaching others for nearly 10 years, while writing yoga and travel articles in her spare time. Melanie’s yoga path started 16 years ago after a traumatic car accident. A few years later had a terrible motorcycle accident. In both instances, Yoga helped her to regain her strength, both physically and mentally. As a result, she specializes in yoga for injuries. 

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend