Most people turn to Yoga only when they have a health problem for which medical treatment could not give satisfactory results. This is valid for many chronic diseases, which often can be attenuated but not cured. Psychosomatic diseases are another example -the psychic factor is especially evident here and is therefore difficult to treat with common medical methods. What can Yoga therapy offer these patients?
The Yogic approach to health
The yogic approach towards health or the person who is suffering from a disease, differs very much from the one of medical science. The latter tries to isolate the pathogenic factor; a microorganism, a toxic substance, a metabolic disorder - and eliminate it. Of course, this principle is valuable, but it fails if the root cause is unknown. In this case, the symptom-oriented therapy often proves unsatisfactory.
Yoga on the other hand, does not refuse the scientific explanation of a disease, but looks at it from another point of view: from the personality of the patient. If he is ill there must be a deeper reason behind it- a disease doesn't arise by chance! There is an imbalance, a disturbance somewhere in body and/or mind, which is manifested as a disease or illness. The symptoms, the pathogenic factors, the name of the diseases are not the main issue - the root cause lies elsewhere.
Dealing with the complete personality
Yoga Therapy tries is to re-establish the inner balance by various means, working from the gross to the subtle. On the physical level it uses: Yoga postures (asanas), Kriyas (Cleansings) Breathings (pranayamas), Meditation and Positive thinking.
The second line of therapy is the work on the mind. Mental disturbances such as anxiety, stress and confusion are the most important factors, which can cause a diseased condition. Therefore, yogis employ various techniques to relax and to create positive state of mind: part-to-part deep relaxation, visualization, mantra chanting, positive affirmations, etc.
These are some of the technical means that may be used. The technical aspect is however of minor importance compared to the primary goal: to create a condition which can encourage the patient to give free way to his own inner forces. If he succeeds in doing so, the results can be surprising. If not, Yoga Therapy is at its limits - it can work only together with nature, not against it.
How does Yoga Therapy aid in healing?
It begins with a fundamental principle from Yoga. Yoga views diseases as having insufficient life force (prana) or energy, either in the whole body or in a part of it. The flow of energy within the body may be blocked or obstructed in some parts. This insufficiency results in lower vitality and susceptibility to infection.
The logic of this view of diseases is centered on the importance of the spine as the primary avenue of energy flow in the body. A misalignment in one of the vertebrae affects the nerves that transmit energy to the organs. When this happens, organs do not function at their optimum levels. If this low level of functioning is prolonged, a disease may develop. Many yoga postures in Yoga Therapy stretch and relax the spine, which helps in realigning the vertebrae.