In the following series of articles, of which this present article is the first, we shall explore the theory and practice of disease, its diagnosis and cure, as per Yogic traditions. With the ever increasing interest in the therapeutic benefits of Yoga kriya worldwide, and with Yoga organizations passing all kinds of claims and disclaimers concerning Yoga therapy, it would be proper for us to have an authentic understanding of what Yoga therapy actually means. It is hoped that the Yoga Therapy series of articles will provide an introductory grounding to those interested in the study and practice of disease prevention and cure, as per authentic Yogic traditions.
Please note that the Yoga therapy series of articles do not enable the reader to perform therapy based on their content. Readers who are interested in studying and putting to actual practice the techniques of Yoga therapy should undergo training in the Chiktsa Yoga/ Yoga Therapy certification programme , along with the Internship programme to enable themselves to become Yoga Therapists.
Pusti / Homoeostasis and Roga/ Disease
Internal disease as per yogic understanding, both physiological and psychological, is primarily a result of hormonal (Rasa) imbalance and congenital makeup (Dhatu) arising from disassociation (Avidya). Ultimately congenital makeup too, as its own proof, manifests itself as the body processes, through the modulation of the hormonal system.
The hormonal system has, as its specific central command and control centre, the pituitary gland and is generally commanded by the Hypothalamus section of the brain, within which overall section, the pituitary gland is located.
Therefore by modulating the Hypothalamus area and specificially the pituitary gland, we can willfully generate that state of homoeostasis unique to each one us, known as Svarupa in Yoga. Homoeastasis, or internal balance, then leads to both the development of the body systems as well as disease prevention.
In other words, disease is born and terminated, within the mind, by the mind.
The body has two internal information pathways by which it transmits information and commands. The information is feedback concerning the operational parameters of individual organ systems, down to the cellular level. This information once passed on to the brain through nerve channels is then processed within the nerve complexes of the brain, and commands are issued. The commands issued by the brain and their rapid execution are absolutely essential to the moment to moment functioning of the body, towards the maintenance of a balanced internal environment. A balanced internal environment or Homoeostasis is life, and an imbalanced internal environment, if not corrected, leads to disease and death.
Information parameters change over time and habituation, just as command pathways do. This means that with time, even non ergonomic positions of seating, eating, exercise, etc can be accepted as non-pain producing by the body. Positions that we normally assume in our day to day life, the kind of food we consume, our living environment, etc. might be causing lasting damage to our internal organs over a period of time, but since the information pathways are not transmitting PAIN due to habituation, there are no commands passed on by the brain that will make us experience such pain, and so we continue with the self-destructive activity.
The resultant disassociation between the reality and the deluded perception of reality, since it is based deep, within the physiological mechanism, then affects the mind and its body-map. Once the mind and its command controls see a false body-map, then the hormonal regulation needless to say, goes out of synchronicity. Homoeostasis is lost and disease results.
Disease and increasing age then take their toll on both the information channels and the command channels, leading to further deterioration of Homoeostasis and increased disease, leading to chronic systemic disease and death.
Asanas / Physical postures and Roga Nirodha / Disease prevention
As per yogic principles, there are two ways of maintaining Homoeostasis-one is mental, the other physical. The physical is mainly comprised of certain sequences of asanas/ physical postures, rules and regulations of proper living, cleansing practices, diet controls, etc. The mental method can be explained in modern terminology succinctly as ‘keeping it real’. Or in other words, possessing the discernment needed to identify reality, from both delusion, and self-delusion.
Yoga’s definition, according to a past master, is ‘Duhkham hetu anagatam’, i.e. the pain, yet to come, is to be avoided. The practices of physical yoga postures, or asanas, are very much in keeping with such a policy of prevention. Though we are all well versed with the truism ‘Prevention is better than cure’, the matter of exactly how the declared prevention is to be achieved is left as a matter of individual choice and ability.
Firstly, the physical practice of Yoga produces bio-physical changes within the different levels of our body, just as the psychological practices of Yoga produce changes within our personality and cognitive structures. Secondly, such changes being produced in the body-mind complex, lead to changes in lifestyle, thought processes and actionable decisions, as concerns our everyday life.
In combination, these two effects produce a profound change in our very destiny. That is to say, by changing our bodies and minds, or to term it correctly, by evolving our bodies and minds, we willfully evolve our way out of an entire gamut of physiological and psychological disease. Occurrence of such disease, if not already in manifest state, is nevertheless the prognosis that is formed, as a natural consequence of our deluded perceptions and actions, arising from our disassociated physiological and psychological makeup. Change the makeup and we change our perceptions and actions. Change the perceptions and actions, and we will change the coming consequences. Change the coming consequences and there will be no more disease. This is the very essence of disease prevention strategy in Yoga.
This is Pusti through Asanas and Yoga practice.
And all of this can be achieved simply through the rebalancing of our hormonal processes by the practice of specific asana sequences. Such action or kriya sequences, forcing the endocrinal system to generate certain hormones, are the most direct path to attaining a lasting state of emotional and physical wellbeing- a state known to all regular practitioners of Hatha Asanas. This is proper association with the body, or Hatha Vidya.
Next article in the series will be an introduction to Roga Chikitsa, or Disease Curing through Yoga Asanas.
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