In the next few blogs, I will cover how yoga therapy helps people to get better. But before we get to the details, we need to understand what yoga therapy is.
My friends often ask me what is yoga therapy? In the beginning, I struggled to find the words to explain this emerging field in health care. From the years of experience of running intensive yogic retreats for cancer and chronic diseases patients, I knew that yoga improved peoples’ lives almost in a miraculous way but how to explain that to my friends?
While our medical doctors and researchers perfected the science of our body and the diagnosis of its malfunctions, yoga science sees a human being as much more than the body. It sees us as the beings, existing simultaneously on multiple levels, of which the physical body is only one.
Yoga therapy looks at the levels and quality of vital energy, at our lifestyle, our core beliefs, and ethics, at our emotional intelligence and finally at our ability to manage our minds and thought processes. Yoga postulates the disease in the body is an outcome of lack of imbalance between all these levels of existence, which with time manifests as a disease in the physical body.
While the medical doctors focus on healing the disease and symptoms of organ or body system malfunction, yoga therapy focuses on the human being and restoring the balance of all levels of human existence. Yoga therapy facilitates human transformation, which leads to long-term health, wellbeing, and quality of life improvements.
The medical doctor takes responsibility for providing a diagnosis and then attempts a cure through prescriptions or surgery when needed. Yoga therapist takes responsibility for empowering the patients with yogic tools, which when practiced over a longer time, restore balance and enhance self-healing of the individual.
Yoga therapist knows and understands yogic sciences, which offer a variety of therapeutic techniques such as pranayama, meditation, yoga nidra, asanas, mudras, mantras, and chanting. Skillfully applied to an individual case, these tools effectively deal with health predicaments and fill gaps in conventional medical care.
Just to be clear I do not postulate that yoga can replace medical care. Both approaches can be applied simultaneously to the patient’s benefit. Moreover, yoga can complement and take over when medical care has done its job, often filling the gap left by traditional health care.
Let’s take for instance the cancer treatment. Typically, after surgery cancer patients undergo chemotherapy and radiation, which may last from four weeks to a few years.
The end of the treatment means usually an accumulation of toxicity in the body, which results in most severe side effects. The treatments are long and the side effects creep in on us very slowly, and so we often have very little awareness of our poor state.
Research shows that over 70% of patients suffer from mental and physical fatigue, cognitive dysfunction (brain fog), depression, mental confusion and loss of short-term memory, and pent-up anger after ending their treatments. We felt terrible for a long time and we do not know if/when we will feel any better….
Such was my case. At the end of my treatment in 2008, my oncologist said to me “this is the end of the treatment – we did everything we could for you. Now it is time for you to live your life again!” I looked at him and wondered – WHAT LIFE? WHERE IS MY LIFE?
Exactly at that moment, yoga has an important role to play. We see this in our Beyond Cancer – Healing the Whole Being (www.yogaforhealth.institute/beyond-cancer/) intensive 3-week yogic retreats. Patients are coming to us from all over the world after treatments. The research we conducted over the years, shows significant improvements in the levels of depression, tension, vitality and anger within only 3 weeks, without using a single prescription drug.
One of the patient with stage 4 colon cancer had this to say: “I was trying to survive long enough to come to this retreat. Now, after 3 weeks, I am going back to a new life! “
Indeed yoga therapy has miraculous healing power!