By Dr. Rita Khanna
In the ancient times, Yoga was considered as a pathway to achieve sublime happiness and enlightenment. Nowadays, it is mostly considered as a link to self-actualization, body enhancement, and healing. The healing effects of Yogic practices have been made use of for healing disorders -ranging from constipation, hyperacidity, peptic ulcer, backache, asthma and bronchitis, to cancer, heart disorders, hypertension, diabetes, insomnia, menstrual disorders, obesity, sinus, and a number of other diseases. Yoga’s healing power is so wonderful, and amazing, that it is being seriously considered for treating serious infirmities, such as sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and osteoporosis.
Another advantage of healing with Yoga, is that it lets people control a variety of body functions. These include blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, metabolic functions, and so on and so forth. Skeletal, muscular, endocrinal, and nervous systems then respond in a highly sensitive manner, to ensure proper function and maintain health. For example – when you practice Sarvangasana, the thyroid is really stimulated, or when you practice Sirshasana, the pituitary is stimulated, or when you practice Paschimottanasana, the pancreas is stimulated. Research has shown that, people who regularly practice Yoga, have lower anxiety, are more stress resistant, have normal blood pressure, great heart function, and overall enhanced physical fitness.
How Does Disease Originate?
The body is maintained by life force, and the mind is maintained by mental force; this means that there are two forms of energy in this organism. One form of energy is responsible for the maintenance of the gross organs of the body, and the other force is responsible for the mental activities; and a disease is caused by the imbalance of these energy quantums in the body. When you practice Yoga postures, particularly the major ones, they exert mild pressure on the six important junctions in the spinal passage. Of these six, four distribute life force and mental force, which are situated in the spinal axis, at the sacral area, solar plexus area, cardiac area, and cervical area. These junctions are known as Chakras or psychic centers. For proper health, these four energy centers must maintain balance. If the balance is lost, then disease of the particular system originates.
The Psychic or Physical Disorders
A disease does not merely originate in the gross (physical) body. Even if a disease does appear to originate in the body, it travels straight to the mind, and from there, back to the body again. Such diseases are known as ‘somato-psychic’ diseases. Therefore, whatever the origin of a disease, man’s body, and mind, both suffer, at the same time. These two forces are functioning just like material forces; you can say for the time being, ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ forces. The negative force controls the mind and its functions, while the positive force controls the body, its temperature, mobility, etc. Since the physical and energy bodies are closely linked, cleansing and energizing the energy body speed up the rate of biochemical reactions, and promote a faster rate of healing in the physical body.
(I’ll explain this a little more. In life, there should be harmony between the Pranic force and the mental force; but usually this doesn’t happen. If the Pranic force predominates, and the mental force becomes subservient, then mental illnesses occur. When the mental force becomes predominant, and Pranic force becomes subservient, then physical illnesses originate. This is what we study in the modern medical sciences, as well. When the parasympathetic nervous system is predominant, and sympathetic nervous system is subservient, or vice versa, we have either the psychic disorders or the physical disorders. If a harmony could be struck between these two forces, sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, then there would be a perfect harmony in the body. When there is a total harmony between these two systems, body/mind, life force/mental force, then there are also perfectly balanced secretions in the endocrine glands. These glands are very important and each of them is directly or indirectly controlled by the energy systems. If there is some sort of disharmony in one of these systems, then it directly or indirectly affects that particular gland).
Heal with Yoga
Within this physical body, there are also rich sources of life-giving chemicals: antibodies, adrenaline, etc. When we need one of them, we are given it from outside, in the form of pills, serums, or injections. However, if we can revitalize the particular system that produces these chemicals, then we make them for ourselves. This is what we can accomplish through Yoga.
• For instance, in the case of diabetes, the pancreas ceases to function, insulin is not produced, and thus, glucose is not controlled. It means that the nervous system has gone into a state of dysfunction on account of stress and strain. If proper relaxation can be given to the nervous system, it will recommence functioning. Consequently, the pancreas will start working and that is the cure of the diabetes.
• Cancer can be successfully treated by Yoga therapy. Ujjayi Pranayama, or psychic breathing, is very helpful. Just fold back the tongue and touch the upper palate with it (Khechari Mudra), then practice Ujjayi Pranayama, fifty, a hundred, or a hundred and fifty times, with opened or closed eyes; but practice it with full inspiration and enthusiasm.
• Someone, who is suffering from asthma, can produce his own adrenalin – simply by practicing one posture, known as Shashankasana, which increases the secretion of adrenaline. In Shashankasana, the adrenal glands are reactivated, they secrete more adrenaline, and the attack passes off. Every person with asthma knows that if he has an attack of asthma, and goes to the doctor, the doctor gives him adrenaline. However, with Shashankasana, he makes it naturally for himself.
(This is especially effective, if it is practiced early in an asthmatic attack, as soon as the person knows that respiratory congestion is beginning to take place. An asthmatic patient can tell very well when he is going to get an attack. The condition begins to accumulate from the morning, and he begins to feel heaviness in the chest; but, if he practices this posture, he starts to feel better very quickly.)
In Shashankasana, the person sits on his feet, bends forward, places his forehead and arms on the floor ,and relaxes in this position for ten or fifteen minutes. This is also the way the Muslims sit during their prayers.
• For heart patients, before a medical expert is called for a heart problem, the patient is made to lie down on the floor with his legs raised. When legs are raised on a pillow, the blood goes back to the heart, and the pressure and strain on the heart is relieved, no matter what complaint it is. Then the heart can function until the medical expert arrives.
(This is a very simple thing, which can be taught to everybody; especially those who are following the modern way of life – sitting in a room, all day, and not going out; suffering from anxiety, insecurity, stress, and strain, etc.)
• There is one posture called, Siddhasana, in which we sit for Meditation. If this is practiced over a period of time, say about half an hour each day, it will help give you complete control over the secretion of testosterone, a primary cause of heart attack (if they are secreted every now and then, consciously and unconsciously, in excess) and in the treatment of abnormal blood pressure, too. Any time one is suffering from high blood pressure, or low blood pressure, if he just sits in this posture for half an hour, or if possible, one hour, the blood pressure will move towards normal. This is because the pressure exerted on the perineum, and the viscera, is transmitted to the brain centers, which control the blood pressure.
In Siddhasana posture, the left foot is placed beneath the scrotum, with the right over the genital organ.)
• Many ladies suffer from prolapse of the uterus, where its supports become weak, and it comes down. Of course, we have a system of surgery for this; but in Yoga, we can use Naukasana (the boat poses) and the Uddiyana Bandha with Jalandhara Bandha.
In Naukasana posture, lie down, raise both legs a bit and stiffen them, then raise the upper part of the body a bit, and stiffen it. Then stretch the arms in the direction of the feet and make them stiff. It has been seen that during this posture, the uterus drops back. It may not happen in a few days, it may take a period of time, but definitely this posture helps in prolapsed.
In Uddiyana Bandha, exhale the breath through the mouth, empty the lungs, and contract the abdomen upward and backward. At the same time, the kidneys, the bladder, and the uterus follow the same contraction. The entire genitourinary and digestive tracts are contracted. When at the same time, you block the throat, by extending the arms and pressing the knees in Jalandhara Bandha, the blood circulation is concentrated in the navel region; and we know that wherever the blood concentrates, repair work takes place very fast.
• There are two Asanas named Uttanapadasana and Paschimothanasana to maintain the balance of the navel. Just as a misalignment occurs within the spinal cord, a misalignment of the navel and stomach muscles (rectus abdominus) also occurs. In Northern India, navel displacement is called Nabhi Chadna / Tharan Chadna.
In Uttanapadasana, lie on your back, keeping your hands on the sides on the ground, palms facing upwards. Breathe in normally, and then keeping legs straight, lift them about 8 inches from the ground and hold. Now, swing them upwards and downwards, between 6 to 12 inches, above the ground (e.g. left leg up 12 inches – right leg down 6 inches – then reverse). Movements should be controlled, slow, and without jerks. Do this for a few seconds. Do not exert yourself. Exhale and come back to normal position and relax.
In Paschimothanasana, lie on your back and inhale deeply. Now, sit up with your legs straight in front, with toes pointing towards the ceiling. Stretch your arms above you. As you exhale, keep your back straight, bend forward from the pelvis. Only bend downward, as much as your body permits. Stretch out your arms and reach to your feet – or whatever part of the leg you can comfortably reach. As you bend down, try and keep the heels, calves, and thighs touching the floor – the spine straight. Then, rest your forehead on the knees (as far as possible), and continue normal breathing. Try to rest the elbows on the floor. Hold the position for a few seconds. As you inhale, start raising the head, and come back to your normal position, and relax.
The positive effects of Yoga, during a healing process, are undeniable. By practicing the specific Yoga postures, the different endocrine glands are stimulated. The endocrine glands then, in their turn, influence not only the body, but also the emotions, such as anxiety, fear and anger, which can also be controlled by the Yoga practices. Currently, there are several investigations under way in clinical settings, medical schools, and ashrams around the world. It appears that Yoga is an exceptionally powerful approach, which can be successfully applied, even in chronic and incurable cases. However, these techniques should only be used as a form of support, and one should not rely solely on them. The best results are achieved by combining Yoga, with traditional and modern medicine, and by addressing a problem, both from a mental and physical point of view.
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Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna’s Yogashaastra Studio.
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Dr. Rita Khanna
Dr. Rita Khanna is a well-known name in the field of Yoga and Naturopathy. She was initiated into this discipline over 25 years ago by world famous Swami Adyatmananda of Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh (India).
She believes firmly that Yoga is a scientific process, which helps us to lead a healthy and disease-free life. She is also actively involved in practicing alternative medicines like Naturopathy. Over the years, she has been successfully practicing these therapies and providing succour to several chronic and terminally ill patients through Yoga, Diet and Naturopathy. She is also imparting Yoga Teachers Training.
At present, Dr. Rita Khanna is running a Yoga Studio in Secunderabad (Hyderabad, India).