WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — When you think of yoga, you might envision a hot, packed room full of sweaty yogis striking gravity-defying poses. But – depending on what ails you – the practice can also be modified to help you heal.
It’s called yoga therapy.
Yoga therapy usually starts with a one-on-one conversation within a clinical environment between a certified yoga therapist and individuals referred to as patients.
Sitting a chair with soft blocks under the feet and hands resting on the thighs is often how Danielle Foley’s sessions begin.
The 31-year-old from Oak Park has been practicing yoga therapy for about three years.
“Yoga Therapy allowed me to step out of my thoughts and, like, start to actually change my behaviors a little bit better,” said Foley.
She turned to yoga therapy to help manage anxiety and an eating disorder that she’d been dealing with since she was 10-years-old. She’s been behavior-free for three years.
”I’ve been able to see [that] I’m holding a bunch of tension. And if we’re not aware of it, we can’t let go of it,” she explained.
Certified Yoga Therapist Veronica Zador – the Director of the Beaumont School of Yoga Therapy – started working with Foley one-on-one focusing on breathing techniques and meditation.
“Yeah, just breath out. See how that feels,” said Zador softly as she facilitated a session with Foley.
“When we relax our body, often times we find it’s easier to relax the way we think as well,” said Zador.
The Beaumont School of Yoga Therapy is the first yoga therapy program in the United States to be held under the auspices of a hospital.
The program helps patients being treated for everything from Parkinson’s to pain management, MS to autism, cancer treatment to cardiac conditions.
Therapists undergo more than a thousand hours of training and work with patients in and out of the hospital as an integrative medicine modality.
“Inhale – lift up through the crown of your head,” said Yoga Therapist Natalee Neely as she instructed a small-group session she invited me to take part in.
She’s been teaching yoga therapy for 14 years inspired by personal experience treating her chronic breathing problems with yoga.
“To my surprise within a year, I no longer had asthma, and I no longer had bronchitis,” recalled Neely.
Danielle Foley was also inspired to formally train to become a yoga therapist, but she still practices on her own every day.
“I feel like actually joyful, you know? It’s really amazing,” said Foley smiling.
Yoga therapy is meant to be done with consultation from your doctor.
Beaumont’s Yoga therapists explain that the postures, mindfulness techniques, and breathing exercises can help you:
- Increase strength, balance, and stability
- Learn how your posture, breathing, and state of mind affect your health
- Alleviate stress and find peace by learning to respond instead of react
- Take time to care for yourself to feel better and have more energy
- Practice joyful embodiment of the shape you are in today
YOGA THERAPY DROP-IN CLASSES
If you’re interested in just trying out yoga therapy for yourself, there are drop-in classes available through Beaumont Integrative Medicine for only $7.00 per class.
Wednesdays: 2:30pm – 3:30pm
Fridays: 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Beaumont Medical Center, West Bloomfield
6900 Orchard Lake Road, Suite 310
It’s recommended that you wear comfortable clothing and bring along some water to drink.
Yoga mats are not necessary for these classes, and no prior yoga experience is necessary.
If you’d like more information, you can call Beaumont Integrative Medicine at (248) 551-9888.