Yojana June 2019 - Yoga & Alternative Systems of Medicine (Part - 1) (Download PDF)


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Key Topics Included In This Article: - Yogic Practices for Well Being, How Yoga Works, Yoga & Mental Health, Yoga – Indian Ethos, Yoga & Youth, Lifestyle Changes Include, Special Features of Yogic Practices, Benefit of Eight Limbs of Ashtang Yog, Evolution of Medicine Since Ancient Times, Siddha Medicine, Basic Human Principles 96 Thathuvas.

Five Sheaths (Kosham)

  • Homeopathy Addresses Multi Morbidity Successfully
  • Concept of Health promotion & Disease Prevention
  • Therapeutic Modalities Used in Naturopathy
  • Research in Ayurvedic Fundamentals.

Towards Holistic Health

  • Word ‘Yoga’ comes from Sanskrit which means to unite, & hence yoga is not just physical exercise but a means to achieve a balance b/w thru & actions & channelizing body & energy as a holistic approach to well being.
  • Each year June 21 is celebrated as International Day of Yoga, & especially for India Yoga has a cultural & heritage value too.
  • Naturopathy, Siddha system of medicine, Ayurveda, Unani, Homeopathy, Naturopathy & others, are various practices in addition to more popular system of medicine

Yoga: Art of Being & Science of Well-Being

  • Aim of Yoga practice (sadhana) is to overcome & endure all kinds of sufferings that leads to a sense of freedom in every walk of life w/holistic health, happiness & harmony.
  • Founders of philosophical thru Vedic seers, ancient Indian Yoga Gurus, Maharishis, Mahavir, Buddha, Christ, Mohammed & Sufis have dedicated their lives to quest of understanding source of suffering of mankind.
  • Roots of Yoga are in ancient India; its universal origin is burning desire in heart of burning desire in heart of philosophers yearning to be happy & free of suffering.

Traditional Schools/kinds of Yoga

  • Yoga led to emergence of diff. traditional schools. These include Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Patanjala Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Dhyana Yoga, Jain Yoga, Bouddha Yoga etc.

Fundamentals of Yoga

  • Yoga works on level of one’s body, mind emotion & energy.
  • This has given rise to four broad classifications of Yoga: Karma Yoga where we utilize body; Jnana Yoga where we utilize mind & intellect; Bhakti Yoga where we utilize emotion & Kriya Yoga where we utilize energy.

Yogic Practices for Well Being

  • Widely practiced Yoga sadhanas are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi, Bandhas & Mudras, Shatkarmas, Yuktahara, Mantra- Japa, Yukta Karma etc.
  • Yama’s are restraints & Niyama’s are observances.
  • Asanas, capable of bringing about stability of body & mind “kuryattadasanam-sthairyam”, involve adopting various psycho- physical body patterns & giving one an ability to maintain a body positon (a stable awareness of one’s structural existence) for a considerable length of time.
  • Pranayama consists of developing awareness of one’s breathing followed by willful regulation of respiration as functional or vital basis of one’s existence.
  • It helps in developing awareness of one’s mind & helps to establish control over mind.
  • Pratyahara indicates dissociation of one’s consciousness (w/drawal) from sense organs which connect w/external objects.
  • Dharana indicates broad based field of attention (inside body & mind) which is usually understood as concentration.
  • Dhayana (meditation) is contemplation (focused attention inside body & mind) & Samadhi (integration).
  • Bandhas & Mudras are practices associated w/Pranayama. Practice of dhyana which moves one towards self realization & leads one to transcendence, is considered essence of Yoga Sadhana.
  • Satkarmas are detoxification procedures that are clinical in nature & help to remove toxins accumulated in body.
  • Yuktahara advocates appropriate food & food habits for healthy living.
  • Practice of Dhyana (Meditation) helping in self realization leading to transcendence is considered as essence of Yoga Sadhana.
  • Psychological, Anatomic physiological, Bio-chemical & philosophical phenomena underlying Yoga Sadhana have been commendably understood by us today.
  • Teaching methodology in Yoga has ingrained modern educational methodological rigours into it.

How Yoga Works

  • Few of mechanisms thru which Yoga works as an integrated mind body medicine:
  • Cleanses accumulated toxins thru various shuddikriyas & generates a sense of relaxed lightness thru Yogic sukshmavyama (simple micro movements for all joints & ligaments of body).
  • Adoption of a Yogic lifestyle w/proper nourishing diet, creates positive antioxidant enhancement
  • Physical balance & a sense of ease w/oneself enhance mental/emotional balance & enable all physiological processes to occur in a healthy manner.
  • Improves control over autonomic respiratory mechanisms thru breathing patterns that generational stability.
  • In Yoga physical body is related to annamayakosha (our anatomical existence). As pranayama kosha (our physiological existence sustained by energy of breath) lies in b/w them, breath is key to psychosomatic harmony.
  • Focuses mind positively on activities being done, enhances energy flow & results in health circulation to diff. body parts & internal organs.
  • Creates a calm internal environment thru contemplative practices that in turn enable normalization of homeostatic mechanisms.
  • Relaxes body emotion mind complex thru physical & mental techniques that enhance our pain threshold & coping ability in responding to external & internal stressors.
  • Enhances self confidence & internal healing capacities thru cultivation of right attitudes towards life & moral ethical living thru Yama-Niyama & various Yogic psychological principles.
  • Yoga aims at promoting positive health that will help us to tide over health challenges that occur during our lifetime.
  • Yogic principles of wellness help to strengthen & develop positive health enabling us to withstand stress better.

Scientific Studies on Yoga

  • Yoga thru its effects on autonomic nervous system & endocrine system influence cellular & molecular aspects of health in Yoga practitioners.
  • Yogic practice brings stability of autonomic equilibrium along w/strengthening of parasympathetic system, thereby minimizing wear & tear in diff. physiological systems & there by slowing down aging process.
  • Studies indicate performance, improvement in thermoregulatory efficiency, body flexibility & stress tolerance.
  • Yoga is proving to be most desirable traditional system of health & well being in present scenario.

Yoga & Mental Health

  • Yoga comes from a Sanskrit root “yuj” which means ‘union’ or ‘to yoke’ or ‘to join’.
  • Its relevance in mental health has been mentioned in ancient texts as well.
  • Patanjali in his Yoga sutras says “yogah chitta Vritti nirodhah” which means primary aim of Yoga is removal of fluctuations of mind
  • “Samatvam Yoga Uchyate” which translates to ‘yoga is equanimity of mind in any situation’ is cited in Bhagavad Gita (5000 BC).
  • Yoga is described as a holistic health system in Yoga Sutras, credited to Patanjali (circa 300 CE). ” Ashtanga Yoga” as outlined by Patanjali, consists of eight limbs. These are as follows:
  • Yama (universal ethics)
  • Niyama (individual ethics)
  • Asana (physical poses)
  • Pranayama (breath control)
  • Pratyahara (control of senses)
  • Dharana (steadiness of mind)
  • Dhyana (meditation)
  • Samadhi (bliss)

Concept of Disease as per Yoga

  • Taittiriya Upanishad describes five sheaths (pancha-kosas) or layers of existence in body from gross to fine level.
  • This is called as Anatomy of Yoga. They are namely:
  • Annamaya kosha, “food” sheath (Anna)
  • Pranamaya kosha, “energy” sheath (Prana)
  • Manonmaya kosha, “mind” sheath (Manas)
  • Vijnanamaya kosha, “discernment” sheath (Vijnana)
  • Anandamaya kosha, “bliss” sheath (Ananda)
  • Imbalance b/w likes & dislikes in this level will result in mental illnesses called “Adhis”.

Yoga & Mental Health

  • It improves awareness of body, emotions & mind; & flow of healing ‘Pranic Life Energy’.
  • Yoga has been shown to help improve symptoms in several physical disorders, like diabetes, hypertension, asthma & in mental disorders, like anxiety, depression & psychosis.
  • Yoga practice has been reported to help depressive symptoms since a long time. It lifts mood & improves interest in activities, attention/concentration/memory, sleep & appetite.
  • Research at National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences has shows that practice of yoga has effects on biological parameters like increasing parasympathetic tone, reducing cortisol levels & decreasing neuro inflammation in patients w/depression.
  • In patients w/psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, yoga practice has been shown to improve socialization, functioning, ability to recognize others emotions/feelings, & cognitive abilities.
  • Yoga holds promise as a complementary therapy in cases of tobacco, alcohol & opioid dependence along w/routine medical intervention & psychosocial interventions.
  • Yoga may produce a state of calmness & contentment which is lacking in children w/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
  • Yoga may offer benefits as an effective tool to increase imitation, cognitive skills & social communicative behaviours in children.
  • At NIMHANS Integrated Centre for yoga, specific yoga modules have been designed for patients w/specific psychiatric disorders based on traditional & contemporary yoga literature.

Guidelines for Practice of Yoga

  • Yogic practices should be practised on an empty or on a very light stomach. Ideal time for practice would be in early morning, Asanas are practised in sequence of standing, sitting, prone-lying & supine- lying position asanas.
  • Components of Yogic Way of Life for Positive Mental Health are as follows:
  • Ahara (food)
  • Vihara (Relaxation)
  • Achara (Conduct)
  • Vichara (Thinking)
  • Vyavahara (Behaviour or actions)
  • Conclusion
  • Yoga was practiced in ancient times for overall general well being & spiritual progress. Current research evidence suggests that yoga can be used as an add-on therapy or in some instances as a sole therapy for psychiatric disorders as well. It not only improve symptoms, but brings about holistic change in an individual.

- Published/Last Modified on: July 11, 2019


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