Tracey L. Kelley
When Asana Isn't Enough
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
It's quite common for practitioners to encounter a variety of aches and pains due to movement or sitting patterns, exercise, landscaping chores, or physical trauma. In many ways, asanas, or postures, create a balance in the body that helps wellness.
But sometimes, it doesn't.
There, I said it. I'll probably get kicked out of the super-secret yoga teacher club now.
Through various types of bodywork, many people experience greater range of motion, improved stamina, an effective release of pain, scar tissue, and other injury overlays, and better structural realignment.
One of the many benefits to expanding my teaching knowledge is working with modality experts who have deeper understanding of kinesiology , anatomy, nerve meridians, and other biomechanics to help people move with grace, pain free.
Now, I've witnessed how yoga opens the body in ways that didn't seem possible a few months before consistent practice. I've experienced this repeatedly in my yoga journey, and with dozens of students. Sometimes the asanas, as well as directed breath, unlock areas that provide tremendous relief or prevent further injury.
And sometimes, we simply need a little extra help. Here are some complementary medical practices that allow for beneficial physical changes.
Physical therapy (PT): A therapist provides a series of movements designed to help you regain previous mobility or reduce consistent pain. What most people don't know about PT is while your attending physican may prescribe a key number of sessions for you, you can also seek out PT without a doctor's recommendation. It's always good to complete whatever plan your physical therapist details for you, and continue to do the exercises.
Chiropractic care: Working with the musculoskeletal system, chiropractors make a series of adjustments in various areas throughout the body. They may also use techniques such as muscle stimulation, balance exercises, immunotherapy, and others.
Myofascial release therapy: Fascial tissues support and surround the muscles, which is a good thing. But, if they're restricted in some way, usually due to injury or repetitive motion, you'll notice this in a variety of ways. Myofascial release creates elasticity in the tissues and their connective points to provide pain relief and increase mobility.
Acupuncture: This ancient Chinese method stimulates nerves, muscles, and connective tissue. This helps to increase blood flow and engage the body's natural pain killers. Some people also use acupuncture for other conditions. Yes, teensy needles are used but no, they don't hurt to have in your body.
Much. (Depends on where they're placed!) Other modalities to assist mobility include numerous types of massage, including sports massage; rolfing; acupressure (no needles, but still focused on activating trigger points); Ayurveda treatment; and somatic therapies. Here's an extensive list with definitions.
It's important to remember, regardless of age, that pain or restriction isn't just "the way it is." Yoga often reveals aspects of possibility, and adding modalities like the ones above to enhance your wellbeing will not only improve your physical practice, but also allow for better positioning of stillness.