Yoga Therapy: A Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Yoga & Ayurveda for Health & Fitness
By: Bipin Baloni, A passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher & Traveler in India
Summary: This article provides a framework of yoga therapy and aims to educate its readers about the therapeutic use of Yoga and Ayurveda for optimal health and fitness.
Across the globe, millions are healed, transformed, empowered, and inspired by ‘Yoga’, the discipline of wellness. With its three core elements– Asanas, Pranayama, and Meditation, the science of yoga tremendously transfigures the body, mind, and spirit of the practitioners. Thus, manifesting the properties of Chikitsa (Therapy).
Yoga Therapy is a holistic approach that emphasizes the use of physical postures, yogic breathing techniques, meditation, guided imagery, and diet for opposing the diseases and strengthening the body including the heart, the abdominal organs, the nervous system, and the mind as well. The classical texts on Yoga state that Chakras, Nadis, Prana are energetic physiology of Yoga in the context of Therapeutic Yoga. And, the clearing of these subtle energy centers, proper flow of prana empowers the individuals to progress on the path of health and freedom of diseases.
Extending the Yoga Therapy beyond the physical well-being, it is the effective approach to foster greater psychological and spiritual well-being. As the stress is on the rise in the modern world which in turn is linked to a variety of diseases, Yoga is arguably the most potent method of fighting stress. And, consistency with the practice surely guides people out of the ruts they have been stuck in mentally and spiritually.
Tools of Yoga Therapy
- Asana: Yoga Asanas serve a greater purpose in addressing the problems of the body and its functioning. The postures involve movement and muscle work to treat the specific diseases.
- Pranayama: A method of consciously regulating and focusing on the breath for adding more years to live.
- Meditation: A practice of keeping the mind still and focused as a majority of problems start in the brain. The mantra chanting is an important tool in Yoga Therapy. The sacred sounds integrated with asana and meditation can cure several diseases.
- Diet: Diet, Lifestyle, and Environment also play a crucial role in healing and wellness. The Ayurveda Therapy details out the significance of these three factors.
Applications of Yoga Therapy:
1. Bronchial Asthma: Asthma is a disease characterized by the narrowing of airways, cough, extra mucus, and breath lessening. Consequently, the ability of the asthmatics to exhale decreases which can be life-threatening. Yoga Therapy systematically uses the diverse tools to treat asthma. The practice of inversions is effective for the patients with asthma. In the inversions like supported shoulder stand, the diaphragm contracts, the lungs expand, and the pressure in them decreases that helps the air to flow in from outside. Asanas like the downward dog are recommended for heavyweight asthmatic patients and diamond pose for elderly people. Kapalbhati pranayama, a technique of forceful exhalations can be useful for the asthmatics as they face difficulty in exhaling. Nadi Shodhana pranayama of short breaths is also helpful in fostering calmness. Repeating sounds like OM is ideal for promoting complete exhalation. Yoga Therapy helps the asthmatic develop a sense of control over their breathing through various tools.
2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A medical condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling sensation in the hand and arm. Yoga, as a therapy, focuses on the practice of Prayer Pose with hands in Anjali Mudra, the staff pose variations, a cat-cow stretch that adds to the range of extension of the wrists, and strengthens the flexor muscles of the arm helping you to recover from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
3. Other Diseases: Studies suggest that yoga therapy can lessen the side-effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation in Cancer Patients. The dedicated implementation of Yoga Therapy tools cures high blood pressure, Diabetes type II, etc.
The authoritative classical text on Ayurveda ‘the Sushruta Samhita’ defines health: “Balance of doshas, agni, dhatus, malas with a clear sense of self and mind. The Ayurveda Chikitsa employs eight ways to diagnose the illness: Nadi (pulse), Mootra(Urine), Mala(stool), Jihva( tongue), Shabda (speech), Sparsha(touch), Druk (vision), and Aakruti (appearance). The contemporary Ayurveda Therapy focuses on building health and vitality through the healthy metabolic system, good digestion, excretion and appropriate dincharya (daily routine).
In Ayurveda Therapy, the concepts of diet and lifestyle are important for attaining holistic health. The science of Ayurveda considers these two factors as the causes of various illnesses. If these are not eliminated or mitigated, the efficiency of other measures is compromised.
Examples of Ayurveda Therapy
1. Asthma: According to Ayurveda, Asthma is a disease of Vata and Kapha. The Ayurvedic Therapy recommends consumption of food that balances Vata and Kapha and aversion to delicacies that are cold in Prakriti (such as dairy products) that produce mucus. From the Ayurvedic perspective, lifestyle and environment guidelines: travel, exposure to cold, pollens should be avoided. Asthmatic patients can consider Ayurvedic therapy course India for holistic treatment.
2. Diabetes: Madhumeha (Diabetes) is classified as major rog in Ayurveda, a metabolic disease that affects other vital organs like eyes, kidneys, etc. As a part of diet Therapy, it stresses on the inclusion of whole grains, cheese, garlic, onion, bitter gourd and avoids sweet fruits, potatoes, heavy, oily foods. Some of the home remedies include: Drinking dry mango leaves powder with water to reduce high blood sugar levels, sipping of amla juice with bitter gourd, etc. Go to Ayurveda Panchakarma treatment Kerala to detoxify the organs and balance the Kapha dosha, which when disturbed can be a primary cause of diabetes.
3. Cataract: An eye disease in which the eye lens becomes cloudy and decreases vision. In Ayurveda, the disease is known as linga Nasha. The Sushruta Samhita explains a procedure to be performed with Jabamukhisalakha. Later the eye is soaked with warm butter and then bandaged. Ayurvedic treatment of Cataract also involves strengthening of eye nerves and nourishing of eye tissues. The herb of Triphala is considered effective for eyesight. It suggests food that keeps the cataract patient free from obesity and high blood pressure.
Let Yoga and Ayurveda Therapy drive you towards health and fitness. Adopt these two therapeutic systems for a disease-free and health-bound life.
About the Author:
Bipin Baloni is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India. He organizes Luxury Yoga Retreats. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas.