Massage Therapy and Yoga Therapy: How Each Works

yoga therapy boston

The term “yoga therapy” is now commonly used in hospitals all around the United States. For those who have experienced yoga therapy sessions, you will know that it is a life-changing and transforming experience. Many who attend these sessions have found that they have gone from being a “carefree person” to a person who is calm, rested, and filled with hope and confidence. This is because the mind/body connection created during yoga therapy treatments has made them stronger, more balanced, and more alert. In this article, we are going to look at what is involved in a typical yoga therapy session.


A person sleeping on a bed

As a massage therapist who is regularly called upon to give yoga treatment, I’m often asked if my massage techniques can help heal patients. The answer is a resounding yes! As a massage therapist, I understand how it feels to put a client through an intense physical stretch. When I start a new client, I do this because I want to help them overcome pain and muscle tension, which is part of yoga.

During one of my sessions with a patient in Boston, I noticed that she was holding her stomach as her breath became more shallow. She was gasping for air, and her head was now very foggy. I could see the concern in her eyes, and her mouth was open in a big way, indicating that she was experiencing a lot of pain. She was clearly not getting the relaxing, centering-out-the-zone feeling from her yoga sessions. Her posture was also very off-kilter.

I asked the patient if she had ever done yoga therapy before. She told me she had been seeing a massage therapist but had gotten out of the program early because she was having so much pain. She indicated that she wanted to do yoga to help her body “get back” into a normal rhythm.

Yoga Therapy Boston

A person sitting on a bed

I shared with her what I had observed, and she said, “I know what yoga is about. It is very grounding.” I assured her that yoga is certainly healing, and I felt good that we were on the same page. I asked her if she had any questions she wanted to ask me. She was quite agitated, and I could tell by her facial expression that she was ready to leave.

I gently put her in a chair next to me, put on my massaging robe, and massaged her abdomen, upper and lower back, left and right sides. I focused on the deep muscles of her abdominal walls, including the transverse abdominis, the rectus abdominis, and the external obliques. I lifted up my hands and positioned myself behind the patient so that my body was directly over her. I began by applying gentle yoga postures to the transverse abdominis and then moved to more difficult yoga positions.

Massaging Therapist

The massaging therapist, who was a very young woman, was able to identify and help with the muscular imbalances and tightness in her shoulders and arms. I noticed how her shoulders were stuck up and how her arms were in a T-formation. After a few minutes of soothing and balancing exercises on my massaging table, the patient relaxed, and I helped her straighten her legs. By reducing the tension in her shoulders, arms, and legs, I was able to release some of the stress that was building up in her body due to her occupation.

Bottom Line

I told her, “The more you practice yoga, the easier it will become for you. You don’t need a yoga therapist to help you get started. Just focus on maintaining a straight posture while you practice yoga. And once you feel better physically, you’ll find that your mental state is much more stable.”

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