What is it?

The word yoga derives from the Sanskrit word meaning union the purest aim of yoga is to unify the mind, body and spirit. For over 5,000 years, different forms of yoga have been practised in India as a form of relaxation, and as an element of meditation. In the West, Hatha yoga (and its variation Iyengar yoga) is the most popular form; this aims to co-ordinate body, breath and mental focus, and is thought to release tension, detoxify the blood, increase oxygen absorption and improve respiration and hormonal circulation, as well as improving suppleness, stamina and strength. In addition, a form of yoga has been developed since the early 1920s to help people suffering from serious health problems – this is known as Yoga Therapy; it is a marriage of traditional yoga with modern medical knowledge.

There are two elements to Hatha yoga: the physical benefits are achieved through the application of asanas, physical postures. The spiritual balance is brought about by breathing techniques, called pranayama, which influence the flow of prana (life energy) throughout the body via channels called nadis. The seven chakras, points of focused energy which form a line down the centre of the body, are invigorated through yoga; these are associated with certain organs and activities within the body. There are about 80 main asanas, though only about 20 are used regularly by most people.

Yoga Therapists do not diagnose medical conditions – they aim to promote the body’s natural healing processes and help alleviate certain diseases or symptoms. The therapy retains the fundamental benefits of yoga, but the movements and breathing techniques are tailored to resolving specific health problems.


Yoga has no side effects, other than slight stiffness of muscles and joints when beginning. But it is important not to force your body into positions that are painful.

Certain asanas may not be suitable for people with neck or back injuries, high blood pressure, circulatory problems heart disease, or disorders of the brain, eyes or ears.

Ensure that a Hatha teacher is a member of the British Wheel of Yoga or the Iyengar Yoga Institute. Yoga Therapists should be members of the Yoga Biomedical Trust.

Who is it suitable for?

Both adults and children may benefit from yoga at any time; conditions that may respond well to specific treatment include:
- Asthma
- Back pain
- Bronchitis
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Circulatory disorders
- Depression
- Digestive disorders
- Epileptic seizure disorder
- Fibromyalgia
- Headaches, migraines
- Heart disease
- Hypertension
- ME
- Menstrual problems, including PMS
- Multiple sclerosis, and other neuro-muscular diseases
- Non-insulin-dependent diabetes
- Prolapsed uterus
- Rehabilitation for heart attacks, stroke and falls
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Stress, fatigue

Yoga for the Special Child, a centre in the US, claims to use yoga to enhance the natural development of children with special needs, such as autism, Downs syndrome, microcephaly, cerebral palsy and ADHD.


The British Wheel of Yoga
25 Jermyn Street
Lincs NG34 7RU
Tel: 01529 306 851
They can also provide you with information on yoga classes for children.

The Iyengar Yoga Institute
223a Randolph Avenue
Maida Vale
London W9 1NL
Tel: 020 7624 3080

The Yoga Therapy Centre / Yoga Biomedical Trust
4th floor
Royal London Homeopathic Hospital
60 Great Ormond Street
London WC1N 3HR
Tel: 020 7419 7195

Yoga for the Special Child
1521 Chicago Avenue
IL 60201
Fax: 001 847 869-8329


Pauline Mainland - A Yoga Parade of Animals ISBN: 190188189X

Sonia Sumar, Jeffrey Volk (Translator), Adriana Marusso (Translator), Leon Dinis - Yoga for the Special Child : A Therapeutic Approach for Infants and Children With Down Syndrome, Cerabral Palsy, and Learning Disabilities ISBN: 096580240X

M. Nagarathna MD, R. Nagendra MD, Robin Monro - Yoga for Common Ailments ISBN: 1856750108


http://www.positivehealth.com/permit/Articles/Yoga/will48.htm an article for the health magazine Positive Health available online on yoga for mothers and babies.

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