Therapeutic practices in Yoga

by Dr. Padmashree Yadav

Terapeutic YogaTherapeutic practices in Yoga, especially Hatha Yoga are so expansive that they deal with external or gross body as well as with inner faculties. The yogis have gone to astounding length of remarkable knowledge to display the curing, healing and preventive measures.

As regards to practice of therapy, healing and medicine as spearheaded from the ancient time of Atharvaveda and its subordinate Vedas i.e. Ayurveda or even in Yoga it stands on a different platform. Yoga and Ayurveda support human beings to mainly fulfil the main goals of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. The highest objective of yoga is to terminate all the fluctuations on physical, pranic and mental planes to maintain inborn state of balance. According to Yoga, man is born divine and it the only potentiality due to which it comes to life, lives and by its dictum passes away perhaps to either merge into divinity or to take rebirth. Yoga strongly believes in having wisdom and awareness of this potentiality is happiness and disintegration of this potentiality is illness. When disintegration percolates to intuitive, mental, emotional and physical planes various symptoms erupt causing diseases. So restoration of integrity is restoration of true health.

Yoga puts forth that process of evolution is illness, it is dis - ease as it brings in suffering and ill-health. Reversing the process of evolution that is involution is true health and eternal peace.

According to Yoga the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual, all these aspects or dimensions should be in sync or integration for a human being to have good health.

Charaka the author of the most respected treatise on Ayurveda defines disease as dukha a feeling of not being at ease, mental constriction of circumstances not being unfavorable to us. We have to overcome from dukha to achieve the feeling of mental broadness, lightness, freedom in circumstance when they are favorable i.e. sukha state of mind. We continuously oscillate between them. Yoga sutras through Yama, Niyam, Asana, Prayanama, Dharana practices help one progress from Tamas and Rajas state of mind to maintain in the satvic state of mind.

Hatha yoga gives a plethora of remedies to balance the mental and pranic energies. Bringing balance of these energies is purely for the goal of liberation but during this process one attains a lean and strong body, cheerful face, brightness in eyes, sense of well-being, control on bindu, rise in gastric fire, purification of nadis and hearing of mystical sounds.(Hathapradipika)

Principles of Yoga Therapy

  • 1.Shuddhi -
    - Physical/Gross level
    - Nadi shuddhi
    - Bhuta Shuddh
  • 2.Homeostasis – morals and ethics through Yama and Niyama
  • 3.Sthirata – stability at physical, pranic and mental levels.
  • 4.Manipulation of nostril dominance
  • 5.Yogic diet
  • 6.Awareness of states of consciousness
  • 7.Pratipaksha Bhavana

Advantages of Yoga Therapy

The Upanishads propagate that human being comprises of five sheaths i.e. annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya, vidnyanamaya and anandamaya. The holistic or integrated approach suggests if annamay sheath is disturbed all other layers will get unstable, breathing will lose its rhythm, mind will waver, intellect will be lagging and bliss will be missing.

Yoga emphasis on completeness of self, the physical, psychic and spiritual plane. Yoga plays a crucial role in alleviating some complexities through mental and emotional balance, offering physical relief too. Yoga helps as prevention, supports in curing, healing and in rehabilitation. Thus it can be regarded as complementary therapy.

Limitations of Yoga Therapy

Yoga has no material medica like other sciences. The practices given in traditional texts seem to be gross but are very secretive and subtle. Yoga is an experimental science and it has vast dimensions to offer which can be perceived and implemented by scholars through wisdom of yoga.

Conclusion - Therapeutic practices in yoga are mostly intended towards preparation for higher dimensions to realization of true self. However recent research studies show Yoga plays an important role in supporting to alleviate psychosomatic disorders.It helps as a supporting science to obtain relief from somatic disorders too. Traditional knowledge of Yoga is a boon to mankind as it assists not only for preventive purpose but also for healing and curative purposes.

Dr. Padmashree Yadav is Founder/Director of Neeramay Yoga Ayurveda Research Center - Pune

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