(New York - WABC, June 11, 2007) (WABC) -- Many practice yoga for stress relief, but more people are turning to one-on-one yoga sessions to heal the body when there's been an injury. Especially when conventional physical therapy doesn't seem to be working.
Eyewitness News reporter Lauren Glassberg has more.
Yoga therapy is a growing discipline that aims to help people with chronic pain or injury. Unlike standard yoga classes, this therapeutic approach is customized for each practitioner.
"When I first started up [yoga], I couldn't do this," Jacky Clyman said while stretching.
Clyman can now stretch and move more easily. For years she suffered with back and neck problems. Then she turned to yoga as a therapeutic way to heal her body.
"I tried a lot of physical therapy, and that didn't seem to help," she said. "And I decided to try yoga."
Unlike group classes, yoga therapy is one-on-one sessions where poses are modified to strengthen and stretch injured bodies.
The ancient practice looks at the body as a whole to promote healing.
"Not only are you working perhaps on creating some muscular, skeletal relief," Robyn Ross said. "But you're also relaxing the thoughts of the mind, breathing and balancing the nervous system, and then also, at the same sense, getting a sense of vitality."
Ross is a certified teacher with years of training as a yoga therapist. But not all yoga teachers are therapists and their credentials should be checked.
Dr. Christopher Lutz from the Hospital for Special Surgery says people in pain should first see a doctor.
"I think it's important to get a good diagnosis first," he said. "Educate yourself, and have the physician and physical therapist educate you about what time of injury you have."
"What's really important is that the yoga therapist has all of the information, and ideally works with doctor, works with the physical therapist," Ross said.
For Jacky, her practice has become more than therapy. It's now a way of life that's helping her to feel better every day.
"Basically it's been a lifesaver," she said.
Yoga therapy is also used to help reduce stress and help people deal with illnesses like cancer.
For more information on this therapeutic approach to healing, you can check out these Web sites:
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