Yoga therapy; Contemporary view
The eight-fold path advocated by Patanjali is not easy to follow. So, modern yoga therapists have remodeled it in user friendly manner to make available its benefit to the majority of population.
Practice of asanas are meant for relaxation of voluntary muscles. These each asana are practiced for 5 to 10 minutes each with a total time ranging from 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Pranayam consists of voluntary control of breathing, i.e. inhalation, retention and exhalation. This may be practiced as long as the person feel comfortable. Anuloma-viloma and kapalabhati are the two most popular type of pranayama.
Pratyahara consists of keeping one’s thoughts free from all distractions. This is practiced along with pranayama.
Dharana consists of selecting an appealing object for concentration. This object may be religious or non-religious symbols. Sound may also be used as an object to focus upon while practicing dharana. This is done simultaneously while practicing asana or pranayama. During the initial sessions of yoga practice, the individual might not be able to concentrate, as many thoughts will interfere his focus. However, with continued practice, the time span of concentration increases. Mental concentration, if perfected, paves the way for meditation.
For the people with great restraint and self control, even Samadhi, i.e. the ultimate state in yoga therapy, is possible.
Yoga is found to be very effective in the treatment of different kinds of psychological problems like anxiety disorder, neurosis, mania and depression. Through yoga, one can gain insight and control over kama(desire/lust), krodha(anger), lobha(greed), moha(passion or delusion), Irshya(jealousy) and ahankara(exaggerated self concept). Yoga could improve interpersonal relationships. The recent western therapies like the progressive relaxation by Edmund Jacob or autogenic training by Schultz, are nothing but modified versions of yoga therapy.
S.Telles & K.V.Naveen of Vivekananda Kendra yoga research foundation, Bengaluru, found that yoga is immensely helpful in rehabilitation of mentally handicapped subjects by improving their mental ability, motor coordination and social skills.
Yoga is also found to help in the recovery of people suffering from drug addiction and other substance abuse.
Carpel tunnel syndrome is a potentially debilitating nerve disorder of hand usually caused by repetitive motion like typing. Dr. Gartinkel (1991) found that yoga was better than conventional treatment at reducing pain and improving the hand strength of the patients with this syndrome. Yoga is also found to be beneficial in the cases of coronary artery blockage and other heart diseases.
Yoga is just about turning your gaze inwards. The time you are practicing yoga is the time you are giving to yourself for healing: the healing of body, and the healing of soul.
Practice Yoga, practice life!