Physical & Mental Health Benefits Yoga

From Diabetes to Depression

Philippa Berry
Written by Philippa Berry

I am a Yoga Therapist based in Edinburgh, and am heartened by the rapid growth in the Yoga Therapy market of late. The public are now coming to realise that Yoga is more than just physical exercise or postures which can help with muscular skeletal problems and aid with relaxation.

T Krishnamacharya

My interest in Yoga Therapy is inspired by the teachings of T Krishnamacharya and I have been working with teachers at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram (KYM), in Chennai since 2006. I have been privileged enough to see how powerful Yoga can be when used skilfully making use of asana, sound, breath and diet. The philosophy of the Yoga Sutra’s of Patanjali is very much the approach of the teachers at KYM.  A student is first given a consultation and then assigned a teacher with consideration given to which teacher would best suit the students’ needs both physically and emotionally. KYM believes that the student teacher relationship is at the heart of any knowledge transfer and transformation which will be undertaken by the student.

Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram

At KYM emphasis is given to the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic parts of the nervous system when individual practices are designed. The student is asked to complete a health questionnaire, and give thought to what time of the day they wish to practice. It is usual to place emphasis on exhalation and closing postures if a student wishes to practice in the evening to enable the body and the mind to let go of the stresses of the day and get ready for asleep. The opposite is true for a practice at the start of the day where we use the breath, sound and movement with emphasis on inhalation and opening the body. The individual practice tends to be designed for the student to practice for around 20 minutes daily, however if appropriate the student may wish to practice for longer.

Yoga and Diabetes

A diabetic requires a practice which allows the digestive system to work at the optimum and therefore requires twisting and forward bending postures including knees to chest. Emphasis would also be placed on breath with movement. Long controlled exhales use the diaphragm to massage the internal organs of digestion and help with calming the mind. As the quality of the glucose to the brain for a diabetic can be variable, it is also useful to have a meditative practice to improve focus and memory. At KYM sound in the form of chanting is often used as a meditative practice to help with focus and memory.

Yoga and Depression

Treating depression involves postures with emphasis on the inhale such as warrior and cobra. Use of sound in the form of chant can be extremely useful for changing mood. Also twists and knees to chest postures help improve digestion which often becomes sluggish for a student suffering from a depression.

About the author

Philippa Berry

Philippa Berry

I have studied Yoga for 20 years and was first introduced to ViniYoga in 2004 where a teacher from Bristol visited Edinburgh. I took my first trip to Krishnamacarya Yoga Mandiram in 2006 where I completed a 4 week programme of study in a group of around 35 students from across the world. I started working individually with my teacher Padmini in 2007 and have made around 5 further trips to India since.

I qualified as a Yoga teacher in 2009 and have experience teaching; in a medical centre in California, teaching women fleeing from domestic abuse in Edinburgh, general Yoga Classes and individual lessons also in Edinburgh. I also arrange annual trips to KYM in Chennai each February for those who’d like to know more about Yoga Therapy.

Along with my Yoga qualification I also hold qualifications in Massage, Nutritional Therapy, Teaching and Counselling Skills. I am a keen student of schools of Philosophy both from India and the West and I have a particular interest in how Yoga can improve self-esteem.

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