Yoga and Health
The approach of Yoga therapy is based on ancient Indian traditional beliefs about human existence. In this philosophy there are five “sheaths” t o existence, as shown in the below picture, of which the physical frame is only the first. The second is the vital body that is made up of prana, the life energy that flows through you in invisible channels known as nadis. The third is the mind (your emotions and thoughts), the fourth is the higher intellect (perfect thought and knowledge), and the final sheath is the “abode of bliss”. The bliss sheath is thought to consist of the positive energy that is associated with the divine It is from this sheath that the inner peace essential to true happiness emanates
Disease is seen to arise through imbalance in any of the three lower sheaths of existence In the physical, prank, and mind sheaths, ego consciousness, which is centered around the self, predominates and therefore harmony in these sheaths can be easily disturbed The fourth and fifth sheaths are permeated by a wider, universal consciousness and cannot be perturbed. When you are truly healthy, the positive energy in the highest sheath percolates freely through the lower ones and brings total harmony and balance to all your faculties but though the harmony of the higher sheaths is constant, the free movement of bliss can be blocked by imbalances in the lower sheaths.
The concept of the five sheaths is not entirely accepted by Western science but it is relevant from an experiential view point in time, it is possible to “feel” both prana and bliss without knowing whether they are independent energies or simply the expression of complex physiological phenomena. And by “feeling” and manipulating prana, yogis achieve are mark able control over their bodies that can readily be confirmed by scientific tests. Accordingly, in this book such concepts are referred to as if they exist even though objective proof is lacking
In Indian philosophy there are two types of physical illness, and each requires a different approach the first are the illnesses with a strong physical element, such as contagious diseases and accidental injuries these are most effectively dealt with by conventional medicine, though yoga can play a substantial supporting role. Yoga also helps prevent the occurrence of such ailments by improving your general health and making you less accident – prone
The other type of illness arises through disturbances in the mind sheath and includes all the psychosomatic and degenerative ailments In these disorders, psychological factors play a much greater role, and conventional treatment alone is not usually an effective cure According to Indian beliefs, such ailments are thought to be caused by mental diseases called adhis. These arise when excessively strong feelings of like or dislike become amplified and established, acting to distort personality and to obstruct the flow of positive energy to the lowers heaths This causes imbalances that result in physical ailments and also makes you feel restless and discontent
The inner peace that is your natural state is generated by the positive energy from the “bliss” sheath When the flow of this energy is interrupted by adhis, your sense of wellbeing is diminished and, in your attempt to regain it, you may be further aggravating the problem by behaving in appropriately You may, for example, find yourself eating the wrong foods, living in unhealthy surroundings, lapsing in to negative states of mind, or driving yourself too hard But these methods give only temporary relief and may, in fact, be damaging your health
With psychosomatic ailments, yoga provides the vital element that modern therapies lack and acts directly on the mental imbalances that under lie them While Emotion Culturini) and Meditation make you aware of the tyranny of thoughts and emotions, Happiness Analysis teaches you how to look within yourself to find peace and satisfaction At the same time, other yoga practices facilitate the restoration of health at other levels as well. This effectively complements medical techniques, which improve the situation physically but are unable to eradicate e the primary cause of t h e problem.
The Five Sheaths of Existence
Each successive sheath includes and transcends those inside it the outermost is beyond time and space
1 Physical body
2 Vital body (prana)
3 Mind (lower mental)
4 Intellect (higher mental)
5 Bliss (universal consciousness)
Meditation is the heart of yoga it is the flowering of the mind and soul, and 3 with it comes peace, clarity, harmony, and energy Choose a word, such as “OM” or “GOD” or “ONE”, and chant it inwardly to yourself Do not move your lips, just hear the sound in your mind At first repeat it over and over, several times during each breath, and let your thoughts come and pass away without becoming involved with them.
When you establish a rhythm, slow down the chanting but speed up if disturbing thoughts interfere and only slow down again when a rhythm is restored when you have mastered this, make the internal sound loudly and deeply and feel an imaginary vibration from it throughout your body Let the word start quietly, swell to a loud, vibrating sound, and then fade away into silence Gradually lengthen the sound over more than one breathing cycle Then, let it become continuous, swelling and dwindling like a gentle wave Finally, let it fade away and dwell in the silence. Observe your thoughts rising and falling, without becoming involved in them, but if you become caught up in them resume the chanting Finish by sending out good thoughts to those near you, those you know, and all other living beings .Practise meditation after Pranayama The full practice takes 15 minutes, but five minutes regularly will provide substantial benefits. Meditation Pose Sit with your legs out straight and part them to form a V shape. Bend your right leg and bring it – toward you, placing your right foot on the floor close to your groin. Then bend your left leg and place your left foot on the floor close to your right leg. Rest your hands on your knees, as shown. Keep your back straight, and start to meditate If you cannot bold the pose for the time necessary, try the Kneeling Pose or sit in a chair.
Diet and Yoga
To succeed in your search for health and well being you need to establish a Correct diet and lifestyle that will sustain and promote a positive approach The yogic diet, developed by yogis long ago as they strove for mastery over “the self”, can be a tool for this The yogis realized that diet has a profound effect on both the mind and body, and that you cannot attain true mastery over if your mind without balance in your diet and lifestyle .Using their highly developed internal awareness, yogis classified food in to three categories: tamasic, or impure foods, which had a negative or harmful effect on the body and mind, and actually drained their resources, rajask, or stimulating, which tended to raise levels of physical activity and led to emotional upsurges, but were detrimental in the long term, and sattvic, or pure, which were the most health – promoting , adding vitality and energy to the whole body in a balanced way.
In general, tamasic foods today are stale, tasteless, or actually spoiled and include those with a foul odour, those that contain artificial additives, and those that are over processed or produced by factory farming They are also foods that lead to dependency , such as alcohol or coffee These make you dull, lazy, drowsy, and unable to think clearly Pajasic foods are spicy, excessively sour, bitter, pungent, or roasted Concentrated sources of protein, such as meat, fish, and eggs are also rajasic. These make you physically active, but also make you more aggressive and restless Sattvic foods are t he purest, those t h a t are fresh, fragrant, and tasty. They include organically grown natural foods, without additives, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, cereals, dairy products, nuts, and seeds these help to maintain clarity of thought, decision-making, and intellectual and contemplative thinking They also increase your vitality, energy, and health and make you more joyful, cheerful, and calm.
While practicing yoga you should eat sattvic foods Try to reduce the variety of foods you eat as well, and allow yourself to see that your happiness does not depend on eating many kinds of tasty foods Mastering such cravings for food, without losing your poise and happiness in life, is a path of yoga comparable in importance to Asanas, Pranayama, and Meditation. The aim is to achieve moderation, which is the basis of a balanced diet in yoga, and remove overindulgence in any form of food.
Yoga is fundamentally different from conventional medical practice in its approach to health care Instead of trying to reduce the cause of disease to a single factor and to correct it using a specific cure, yoga aims to treat illness by improving health on all levels simultaneously and by restoring inner harmony health occurs when the total balance of perfect health is disturbed.
And although the original disrupting influence may only affect one level at first, the disturbance soon spreads All the five sheaths of existence interact, thus some thing that primarily affects the mind, say, can soon spread to the body and prank sheaths. A bad day at work may make you irritable, for example, but it also increases stress reactions, it may make you tense your muscles, and often depletes your energy level, leading to chronic fatigue
For this reason, yoga contains elements that address problems at every level — asanas that relax and tone your muscles and massage your internal organs, pranayama that slows breathing and regulates the flow of prana, relaxation and meditation that act to calm your mind, and emotion culturing to heal your spirit For just as negative influences spread disruption, positive action has repercussions as well The different types of yoga practice augment each other and are more effective when done together. When you do the asanas and stretch your muscles, muscular tension is released and you are more able to relax likewise, when you relax the mind and release suppressed emotions you tend to become less tense on a physical level. Every element of yoga brings benefits throughout, and also acts to amplify the effect of the other types of practices. This is the essence of yoga therapy — both as a preventive and as a curative Daily practice of a complete yoga session can restore your natural balance and harmony, bringing positive good health to all parts of your life – physical, mental, and spiritual