In recent days I've been learning more and more about Yoga Therapy and the benefits it has over western medicine which these days doesn't always get to the root of the problem. It's becoming more often that people are being told the only option to fix a certain problem they have is surgery, whether it be a drastic hip/knee replacement or removal of a bone spur somewhere in their body. This has become more apparent in the past few days as we have studied X-rays and examples of problems that can be solved with yoga therapy. It's a real pity that the entire world doesn't know that yoga therapy is a real option out there and that we are relying and trusting the doctors we see back at home, without looking into other alternatives. People may laugh when you suggest that they try yoga to help a certain problem but its incredible what yoga has helped people with, even people who were told they would never walk again. I remember a girl in my yoga teacher training last year, telling us her incredible story at the beginning of the course about that exact thing and how yoga literally turned her life around. Yoga can truly defy the odds and more people need to know this.
Our doctor went on to tell us about some amazing things in our life which we probably never realised before for example how we should eat according to the region, season and our nature. He explained that we should eat what is in season wherever we live because mother nature knows what our body needs and what it is lacking at that time of year and so it provides us with a fruit/veg etc with the specific nutrients we need. Fascinating stuff. He went on to explain that if we live in hot country's we should eat more spicy food (eg. South India) because in the heat, our blood rushes to our skin and away from our organs so by eating spicy food we bring the blood back to the digestive system to aid digestion. The same goes for the cold parts of the world. In the winter, our blood rushes to our vital organs to keep them healthy and warm and so we don't need to add anymore hear for digestion there. Our incredible body holds 5L of blood and 1.5L of that is in reserve in the calfs. He told us that if your body requires blood to the head or other parts of the body for instance you can lay with your legs up against the wall to let gravity aid the blood in that direction.
We went on studying the muscles and relating them to poses and in turn relating them to disorders that someone may present to you. Its incredible that by knowing which muscle is the culprit in the disorder, you can stretch it over time and bring balance back to your body. We also talked about the different types of yoga and benefits and though there are some superficial benefits to faster yoga like vinyasa flow/ashtanga or Hot yoga, these styles aren't in synergy with the original philosophies of Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga is the basis of Yoga and here we hold static poses for a longer period of time which calms our mind, works into the organs and strengthens the muscles
He explained the differences between Yoga and exercise (which many people believe are the same) such as the efect on our mind and personality. Gym bunnies tend to have a faster pace of life, ready to respond quick and will have an active Sympathetic nervous system (which causes stress/anxiety) whereas yogis tend to have a calmer mind, take time to decide and use the para sympathetic part of their nervous system which keeps us calm and relaxed. When it comes to sweating it is even different. Yoga sweat tends to be cool and clammy whereas exercise leaves you hot and sweaty. Yoga is static in nature and exercise is dynamic in nature. If someone comes to a yoga class with the mindset of 'wanting to lose weight' or 'wanting to be flexible' without 'wanting to balance the mind' number one, then they have lost the philosophy of yha in the first place. Exercise focuses on the peripheral body and Asana (yoga postures) actually focus on the organs and the body as a whole creating peace within.
To sum it up, Yoga Therapy is a relatively unknown option for medicinal purposes in the west and this needs to change. It's all about going back to nature and nature has everything our bodies need. There is no need for drastic surgery or suffering from high blood pressure, stiffness, pain, bad digestion etc when you have the answer right in front of you. I urge you to research this concept and go and find a Yoga practictioner/therapist near you. It will turn your entire life around.