home pagenew patientsphysical therapistsintegrative workshops  

Janisse Therapy
offers a unique combination of traditional physical therapy and integrative pain management techniques to help individuals enjoy the best health possible.










What Is Yoga Therapy?

In the west, Yoga therapy links the timeless insights from the tradition of Yoga with the technology of mind/body science. It focuses on creating wellness rather than curing disease. It views health in a comprehensive manner that includes the physical, psychological and spiritual levels.

In classical India, Yoga therapy was a combination of Ayurveda, the medical practice of that time and Yoga. Ayurveda provided the lifestyle, diet, purification measures and herbs to prepare the body for Yoga. In the west, Ayurveda is becoming more recognized for its ability to individualize a person's health regime.

Yoga therapy in the west is used primarily to treat stress-related disorders by reducing stress and increasing awareness. An increased awareness of sensation helps us identify the causes of physical pain. Awareness of our thoughts and feelings lets us view our situations from a larger perspective. We notice more about ourselves and others and that opens us to more creative solutions. This is accomplished with selected movement, specific breathing techniques and meditation.

Mind/body science explains the effectiveness of Yoga Therapy in its understanding of the relationship between stress and illness. We are just beginning to understand the importance of stress management in creating health. Programs at the Mind/Body Institute connected to Harvard University, the Sharp Institute for Mind/Body Medicine and the Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles are pioneering this field. They are treating stress-related disorders such as cancer, heart disease, pain, anxiety, infertility, chronic fatigue, headache, gastro-intestinal disorders, and auto-immune disease.

When we calm the body, we calm the mind. A space is created for to recognize stress and to look at fear, anger and attachments that may be contributing to the pain or illness. Done regularly, Yoga therapy weakens the conditioned stress response and lets us view our stress as largely due to subconscious patterns of thought and perception. We can begin to make choices that more clearly reflect our highest values and priorities. It is by returning to our deepest values that true healing occurs on the physical level.


Three Word Glossary

Asanas -- Yoga poses

Asanas are one of the eight components of Yoga as described by Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Asanas stretch, strengthen, and stabilize our physical structure and benefit the physiology and mind as well.

The essential qualities of asanas are from the Sanskrit words: "Sthira:" (1) steady alertness; and "Sukha:" (2) light and comfortable. When Yoga is applied therapeutically, the poses are adapted to the individual as directed by the physical therapy evaluation. Incorrect use of asanas to create excessive spinal flexibility or muscle length can cause injury, and prematurely age our movement system. Ahimsa (the philosophy of non-violence) is in agreement with the Hippocratic oath: "At least, do no harm."

Depending on the individual, the poses are performed either statically or dynamically in what is called Vinyasa, a series of flowing movements. When asanas are linked to the breath, they affect not only the physical body but also the mind. It is through the breath that we can truly link the mind to the body.


Pranayama -- Yogic Breathing

There are many breathing techniques used in Yoga, each with its specific effect on the physiology and the mind. Some forms of breathing are used to energize the body. Some are used in strengthening poses to teach the body to respond to stressors without weakening the immune system. The diaphragmatic breath stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. It reverses the cycle of stress and rapid shallow breathing that is characteristic of the stress response. The Ujjayi breath improves balance and endurance in more challenging asanas. Most importantly, the combination of asanas and pranayama has a balancing effect on the mind. Together, they remove the distractions and tensions in the body and the mind as a preparation for meditation.



Instruction in meditation can take many forms. Some clients may choose to use this time for silent prayer or for an already established meditation practice. A Tibetan Buddhist form of mindfulness meditation is taught by Allan Wallace, a former faculty member in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, CA. Author of many books on Tibetan Buddhism, Wallace speaks of the importance of developing "attentional stability." The meditations can be used while clients are on modalities in the department to develop the ability to focus the mind. The first mindfulness meditation centers on sensations in the body. Progressively more challenging is the ability to stay focused on the breath, on the thoughts that come and go, and finally on the mind itself. These initially require verbal guidance and can be as short as 5 minutes.

Another form of meditation repeats a sound (mantra). Herbert Benson, MD uses this form at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center connected to Harvard University. Mantra, energized sound or sacred word, is the basis of all religious traditions, scriptures and prayers. In one form or another, it is the key religious practice of humanity.

Initially, when a person quiets the mind, the relaxation response will cause drowsiness and the person may fall asleep. It is estimated that 80% of our population is sleep deprived. For this reason, some advise taking one-half hour of rest before beginning asanas so that meditation can go beyond drowsiness into a state of inner wakefulness. In this state, the heart rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure decrease, while the mind stays alert. To a degree this may be experience in single-pointed activities such as gardening, giving a massage, most forms of art, and during the practice of asanas and other forms of movement meditation. The more this state is cultured in the nervous system with a sitting meditation practice, the more it flows into our activities. Advanced Yogic masters can experience all activity from this level.

Meditation is an important tool for healing the mind and the body. Recent studies by both Dean Ornish and the Transcendental Meditation movement suggest that stress reduction by itself can reduce atherosclerosis without changes in diet and exercise. The latter study was published in the March 2000 issue of the American Heart Association's journal Stroke. Director of the Preventive Cardiology Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Dr. Noel Bairey-Merz says, "This is one of the few proven stress management techniques that has been tested with our best science. I would concur that it appears to have an effect on blood pressure and carotid artery thickness, and it has no adverse effects."

2002 -2019
   Janisse Therapy.
contact usresourcesabout us