THE YOGIC APPROACH TO HEALTH
In Yoga and Ayurveda health and disease is approached differently from modern medical science. The latter attempts to identify the pathogen; a microorganism, a toxic substance, a metabolic disorder, and eliminate it. Of course, this principle can be highly useful, but it usually fails if the root cause is unknown. In such cases, the symptom-oriented therapy prescribed by modern medicine frequently proves inadequate.
Yoga and Ayurveda does not reject the scientific explanation of diseases, but looks at it from a different perspective: from the nature and lifestyle of the patient. If a person is ill there must be a deeper reason behind it since diseases don’t just happen by chance.
When there is no congenital disease, there is usually an imbalance or a disturbance somewhere in body and/or mind, which is manifested as a disease or illness. Therefore, the symptoms, the pathogenic factors or the name of the diseases are not the main issue since the root cause lies elsewhere. Yoga and Ayurveda therapy tries is to re-establish balance by various means.
On the physical level it uses diet, Yoga postures (asanas), Ayurvedic herbs, cleansing practices (pancha karma), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation. Another course of therapy is to balance the mind. Mental disturbances such as anxiety, stress and confusion are important factors, which can cause disease. Therefore, in Yoga and Ayurveda we employ various techniques to relax and to create a positive state of mind such as deep relaxation, visualization, mantra chanting, positive affirmations, neuro linguistic programming etc.
The methods described are of minor importance compared to the primary aim which is to create a condition or environment that activates the patient's own self healing mechanism.
In Yoga and Ayurveda, healing begins with a fundamental principle where the presence of diseases is considered 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 or disease.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, we focus on improving digestion (agni) and reducing toxins (ama). In Yoga, the spine is 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. When this low level of functioning is prolonged, a disease may develop. Many yoga postures in Yoga stretch and relax the spine, which helps in realigning the vertebrae.
Using Yoga for therapeutic purposes does not mean that this alone cures diseases. When it is combined with Ayurveda positive results can be achieved within a short time.