Yoga and Disease Management

The genesis of lifestyle diseases comes from a “speeded up” or a hurried mind. Navaneel Kar, demystifies the various stages of diseases and the approach of holistic yoga feeling versus medical science.

Western science and medicine have only recently (in the last few decades) woken up to ‘Holistic’ treatment of disease and to the reality that Mind and Body are interlinked. In Western medicine, there are separate doctors treating physical diseases and mental problems.

For centuries, yoga, Ayurveda and other Eastern medicinal systems have looked at the mind and body as part of one whole. Hence these systems in their treatment of disease, have always had an approach which is ‘holistic’ and ‘integrated’.

According to Yoga and Indian philosophy, we are a combination of five sheaths or ‘Panchakoshas’.

This concept is beautifully explained in the Taittiriya Upanishad. ‘Annamayya kosha’ or ‘Physical body’, ‘Pranamaya kosha’ or Pranic/energy body, ‘Manomaya kosha’ or Mind body, ‘Vigyanamaya kosha’ or Wisdom/Intellect body and ‘Anandamaya kosha’ or Bliss body. All these bodies are integrated and function as one complete whole, moving from gross to finer states of consciousness. We are often obsessed with our Annamayya kosha – food, clothing and shelter. We fail to become aware of the koshas within. The purpose of Yoga is to steadily take our awareness deeper inside to finer levels of consciousness and purify each level, till we reach Anandamaya Kosha or Atman, our true essential self.

Disease or ‘Vyadhi’ in Yoga is of two types – ‘Adhija’ or those born in mind and ‘Anadhija’ or those not born in mind. Adhija is divided into Psychosomatic and Karmic.

These diseases like Hypertension, Diabetes etc. what we call as lifestyle diseases arise in the mind and need to be essentially treated in the mind. Anadhija is basically injuries and infections which can be treated with Ayurveda and/ or modern medicine.

Usually lifestyle diseases ‘Adhija Vyadhis’ have four stages:

  1. Mano Vega (hurried mind).
  2. Prana Imbalance – disturbed breathing.
  3. Disturbed digestion.
  4. Manifested disease in the organ.

Western medicine tries to treat stage (4). Ayurveda and Yoga try to holistically address all four stages.

Essentially Yoga, in the management of disease provides:

  1. A relaxed body.
  2. Slower and rhythmic breathing.
  3. A calm mind, which provides the necessary condition and life force for medicines to work, be it Ayurveda or western medicine.

While western medicine has done wonders in the treatment of infections and injuries (Anadhija Vyadhis), Ayurveda and traditional medicine has far greater depth in the management or Adhija Vyadhis or Diseases born of the mind, the bane of our times.

Needless to say these systems are not opposites and can be made to work together in today’s world to improve wellness for us holistically.

Navaneel Kar

President, Tata Consumer, Certified RYT 200, published poet. Get Navaneel’s latest book Moonrise and Memories: Contemporary Poems to nourish your soul by clicking here.

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