A New Paradigm for Defining Health, Fitness, and Illness
True health is about clearing away what prevents us from living in our most full and glorious expression.
Yoga Therapy is a Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) and applied science designation by the National Institute of Health. There are volumes of published clinical studies in medical and psychological journals around the world attesting to the fascinating effectiveness of its subtle mind-body-spirit method to wellness and healing.
"Medicine is presently expanding its own working model of what health and illness are and how lifestyle, patterns of [moving], thinking, and feeling, relationships, and environmental factors all interact to influence health" notes Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at University of Massachusetts Medical Center. This is a paradigm shift; an evolved perspectiveof healthcare away from the traditional Western approach of treating the parts of the human condition separately, and in doing so, leaving a lot of both actually unaddressed.
Yoga Therapists are a new kind of health facilitator for the Western world that first existed in Eastern medicine as "Yoga Chikitsa", the essence of yoga as a path to the "whole health" of each individual. The need is now great for an evolved approach that incorporates the life-lengthening, health-enhancing natural methods and wisdom of yoga therapy with the life-saving, drug-managing methods of modern medicine.
Yoga Therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the philosophy and practices of yoga. Yoga therapy works with other methods of healthcare to increase the effectiveness of all therapies at any stage and any age and expand the potential of each individual to experience greater wellness and well-being.
Yoga Therapy is conducted one-to-one or in small groups of similar condition over an extended period of time in which the 'patient' is educated experientially to recognize and reduce accumulations of imbalance that lead to inhibited functionality, injury, and disease.
Sessions more closely resemble an appointment with a physical therapist or rehabilitation specialist than a typical yoga class, with customized exercises, both physical and mental, chosen for the individual's overall health needs and abilities. However, they differ from physical therapy and manipulative therapies by deeply incorporating the subtle forms of yoga's healing modalities which are education in awareness of the self, responsibility for self, alignment, energy and breathing patterns, and methods and skills in relaxation, impulse control, concentration
and meditation. If someone is gravely ill, in pain, or emotionally disturbed, Yoga Therapy might consist only of breath awareness, guided meditations and relaxation until more is possible. If someone has a chronic structural, joint, or muscular problem, restoring external function would be as important as restoring the internal balance that may cause the external symptoms.
Research shows health is enhanced by collaboration and shared communication between the individual and supportive holistic-minded health specialists who are collectively treating the whole individual.
Dr. Dean Ornish's Healthy Heart program has utilized Yoga Therapy group sessions as an essential part of its proven lifestyle program to reduce and reverse heart disease over 20 years of clinical studies. It is one example of collaborative integrative medicine positively changing health outcomes.
Compassionately taking back responsibility for what we do and intake, and how we respond, is what The University of Massachusetts Department of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine calls "participatory medicine". Modern medicine has grown so fast that we are only beginning to understand the life-threatening side effects and limitations of these sciences to "fix us" many have grown dependent upon. As living organisms, our health is a factor of optimal function in the cellular, molecular, physiological, skeletal, muscular, psychological, interpersonal, and environmental conditions, and so we need to develop skills and vigilance managing ourselves on a living-well level.
Yoga Therapy can teach the patient to recognize unhealthy postural, muscular, lifestyle, habit, and thinking patterns; heal conditions that need not be chronic; optimize living at any age; and develop relief, strength, resilience, and peace of mind to endure what can't yet be cured.
Yoga's protocol activates self-awareness, somatic intelligence (body and energy awareness), kinesthetic intelligence (proprioception, range of motion, coordination, and neuromuscular engagement), emotional and insight intelligence, cognitive neuroprogramming, and parasympathetic breathing, visualization, meditation, and relaxation methods essential to removing the destructive effects of stress and trauma on immunity to disease.
Through expanded awareness and the scientific "neuroplasticity" of the brain, Yoga Therapy may facilitate changes in cognitive patterns of thought and imprinted beliefs such as , "I can't control what happens to me", "at my age I can't do that", "it's inevitable because of my genetics", "I will never be able to overcome this trauma" that through misunderstanding perceive and perpetuate these delusions as truths and outcomes. Our bodies are miraculous and we don't fully understand how miraculous yet. We actually don't know what our true limits are. Indeed, each generation, each person, stretches the boundary of what is possible farther. It often depends on something
showing us we can, and time building the bridge between that belief and actions that make it so.
"Wholeness is, in essence, the presence of 'right inward measure' and a fundamental property of nature and medicine" states David Bohm, theoretical physicist. 'Medicine' is whatever restores right inward measure to rebalance the human being when it is disturbed by injury, illness, agitation, attachment, separation, or trauma. Thus integrating mind-body-spirit is undoubtedly effective when measured over the whole of a lifetime, and Yoga Therapy is whole "medicine."
Below is a graphic from the Huffington Post outlining some of the many ways yoga supports whole health. Read more about the latest researched effects here.....