Holistic Physical Therapy + Yoga

Titles for Website (15)
Anna Cook

Yoga: derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning “to yoke,” or “to unite.” 1

Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in ancient India. The practice aims to create union between body, mind and spirit, as well as between the individual self and universal consciousness.1

Does it Work?


Yoga is not only important and effective for strengthening the body, it also incorporates several different types of breathing techniques, mindfulness, and meditation in order to achieve maximum holistic benefits.3

Mental health is an important aspect of not only overall wellbeing, but also helps improve physical health. Making sure patients have a positive mindset and outlook is key to a successful treatment regime.3

Figure 1: The effect of yoga intervention on various neurotransmitters in different brain regions. GABA: γ-aminobutyric acid.


Positively impacting the body in several ways, yoga helps regulate blood glucose levels, improves musculoskeletal ailments and keeps the cardiovascular system in tune.3
Increasing mental energy, positive feelings and decreasing the negative feelings of aggressiveness, depression and anxiety.3

Yoga is considered a widely-used approach for health conservation and can be adopted as a treatment modality for a wide range of medical conditions, including neurological and psychological disorders. Yoga experts positive impacts on patients with a diverse range of disorders, including its modulatory effects on brain bioelectrical activities, neurotransmitters, and synaptic plasticity. The role of yoga practice as an element of the treatment of several neuropsychological diseases was evaluated based on these findings. The figure below shows the positive effects of yoga on the brain.3

Beginner Yoga Poses

Examples of Yoga being used in Therapeutic Treatments:

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Motor ImpairmentsThere is growing evidence for motor impairments in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including poor gross and fine motor performance, poor balance, and incoordination.

A research study was conducted to compare physical therapist-delivered yoga vs. academic intervention. After the intervention, children in the yoga group improved gross motor performance.

Overall, creative interventions, such as yoga, are promising tools for enhancing the motor and imitation skills of children with ASD.4

Effects of Mindfulness Yoga for Patients’ who have Parkinson’s Disease
For patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s Disease, a research study found that compared to the control group, a mindfulness yoga program was found to be as effective as stretching and resistance training exercise in improving motor dysfunction and mobility, with the additional benets of a reduction in anxiety and depressive symptoms and an increase in spiritual well-being and health related quality of life.5
Patients’ with Anxiety
Meta-analyses revealed evidence for small short-term effects of yoga on anxiety compared to no treatment. Yoga is an effective and safe intervention for individuals with elevated levels of anxiety.6
Patients’ with Multiple Sclerosis Fatigue LevelsThe effect of yoga intervention on fatigue in patients with MS was significantly better compared to the MS control group, and did not show significant difference compared to the exercise group. Yoga was found to be a simple exercise for patients with MS that is capable of decreasing fatigue in these patients.7
Yoga program for cognitive enhancementStudies recently have shown the positive effects a yoga practice has on cognitive functioning. A yoga program was associated with improvement on manipulation and maintenance working memory measures as well as enhanced mindfulness scores.8
Yoga Therapy in JapanAll over the world, medical professionals are beginning to incorporate yoga into patients’ rehabilitation. In Japan, yoga therapy is being introduced into cancer and palliative care, senior citizen homes, alcohol and drug addiction rehabilitation, cardiovascular rehabilitation, and research on trauma and schizophrenia.9


Providing exceptional health care should be expected by patients, to do this health care professionals need to consistently push the ceiling of treatment options. Not every patient is going to respond the same way to a treatment, this is why health care professionals need options. Yoga is one more option in a healthcare professionals tool belt. Yoga has been practiced over thousands of years and benets those who practice it. Introducing a yoga practice to a patient’s treatment will not only improve their physical well being, but also mental. Psychological outcomes including depression, distress and anxiety are found to improve with the use of a yoga practice.10 Physical Therapists need to advocate for patients’ needs and goals, thinking outside the box is important for maintaining successful outcomes. Physical therapists are also already using yoga as a treatment option for various health conditions and injuries to improve physical and mental health.11 Pushing the normative boundaries of treatment options for patients is important for the evolution of health care. Holistic medical practices are becoming increasingly popular. It is important to strive towards holistic lifestyle practices available to all individuals around the world to maintain health and wellness. Preventative medicine practices should be integrated into the healthcare system, as well as holistic treatments for patients with a variety of illnesses and injuries. The goal of my work as a physical therapist is to increase the use of holistic movement-based treatments for musculoskeletal disorders and injuries, and emphasize the significance of improving mental health. In today’s society, we are failing to improve our mental health, which will result in a decline in our physical health as well. A person’s mental health is strongly influenced by their physical health, and we need to put our efforts into improving both. More open discussion is needed about the many opportunities and options patients have to improve their quality of life and overall well being.

Learn more about Dr. Anna Cook at the links below.

Dr. Anna Cook, PT, DPT

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Collab blog post for Dec 8

Instagram: @sageandseapt

Website: https://annacookdpt.wixsite.com/sageandseapt

Works Cited

  1. What is yoga? – definition from Yogapedia. Yogapedia.com. https://www.yogapedia.com/denition/4/yoga. Accessed March 1, 2022.
  2. Stephens I. Medical Yoga Therapy. Children (Basel). 2017;4(2):12. Published 2017 Feb 10. doi:10.3390/children4020012
  3. Nourollahimoghadam E, Gorji S, Gorji A, Khaleghi Ghadiri M. Therapeutic role of yoga in neuropsychological disorders. World J Psychiatry. 2021;11(10):754-773. Published 2021 Oct 19. doi:10.5498/wjp.v11.i10.754
  4. Kaur M, Bhat A. Creative Yoga Intervention Improves Motor and Imitation Skills of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Phys Ther. 2019;99(11):1520-1534. doi:10.1093/ptj/pzz115
  5. Kwok JYY, Kwan JCY, Auyeung M, et al. Effects of Mindfulness Yoga vs Stretching and Resistance Training Exercises on Anxiety and Depression for People With Parkinson Disease: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Neurol. 2019;76(7):755-763. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.0534
  6. Cramer H, Lauche R, Anheyer D, et al. Yoga for anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Depress Anxiety. 2018;35(9):830-843. doi:10.1002/da.22762
  7. Shohani M, Kazemi F, Rahmati S, Azami M. The effect of yoga on the quality of life and fatigue in patients with multiple sclerosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2020;39:101087. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2020.101087
  8. Brunner D, Abramovitch A, Etherton J. A yoga program for cognitive enhancement. PLoS One. 2017;12(8):e0182366. Published 2017 Aug 4. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0182366
  9. Kimura K. Yoga Therapy in Japan. Int J Yoga Therap. 2017;27(1):127-129. doi:10.17761/1531-2054-27.1.127
  10. Danhauer SC,Addington EL,Sohl SJ,Chaoul A,Cohen L. Review of yoga therapy during cancer treatment. Support Care Cancer. 2017;25(4):1357-1372. doi:10.1007/s00520-016-3556-9
  11. Thomas A, Kirschbaum L,Crowe BM,Van Puymbroeck M,Schmid AA.The integration of yoga in physical therapy clinical practice. Complement Ther Med. 2021;59:102712. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2021.102712
  12. The Good Body. The best yoga poses for beginners. The Good Body. https://www.thegoodbody.com/yoga-poses-for-beginners/. Published November 24, 2021. Accessed March 1, 2022.
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Titles for Website (38)
Anna Cook
Anna Cook
As a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Dr. Anna Cook is also enrolled in a 200 HR Yoga Teacher Certication program. She was born and raised in Charlotte, NC, where she currently lives with her boyfriend Sam and a wild kitty named Sunshine. As an avid hiker, rock climber, holistic health specialist, yoga and meditation practitioner, gardener, and lover of plants, she loves to talk about all kinds of interesting theories and philosophies in life. Moving the body and living a holistic life are critical to living a long, healthy and fullling life. So she began educating everyone she could about these important factors. In the physical therapy world, many professionals get stuck in their own tunnel vision and forget to teach clients and patients how to move their bodies in the way they prefer with the best physical therapy interventions and knowledge available. Using a fun, positive approach, she shows people you don't need a fancy gym or yoga studio to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health.

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