The concept of disease, according to yoga, is found in the treatise called Yogavasistha. According to this text, the modern diseases such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension, and anxiety are called “Adhija Vyadhi”(stress born diseases) originating in Manomaya Kosa- the astral layer of our existence. They arise from our actions that are governed by our emotions [strong likes and dislikes] rather than what is right or what is wrong. Often in this phase, we respond to our emotions - the pull of senses knowing fully well that we are going against what is right. This is called Prajnaparadha in Ayurveda-a mistake at the level of inner consciousness. It is this ‘going against what is right' - the cosmic law- that causes an imbalance, a disease at the Manomaya Kosa called Adhi.
The Adhi at the astral layer, if not remedied, will bring imbalances at the level of Pranamaya Kosa that shows up as breathing jerks, imbalances and speed. This in turn creates stress reactions causing autonomic and endocrine imbalances leading to diseases in the body called Vyadhi. Such diseases are called Adhija Vyadhi i.e. Vyadhis created of Adhis. The other category of diseases such as infections and injuries come under Anadhija Vyadhis which essentially are physical in nature and can be tackled by modern medical system effectively. Since the Adhija Vyadhis are multi dimensional, we need to tackle them not merely with physical symptomatic treatment measures. The whole man has to be treated. And only then can there be lasting remedy to our problems of the modern era. The answer lies in the Integrated Approach of Yoga Therapy that provides techniques for correcting the problem at both the gross (physical) and subtle levels. Yoga practices help in bringing about balance at the level of all the five Kosas so that complete health can be restored. The practices at Annamaya Kosa include yogasanas, Sithilikarana vyayama [loosening practices], yoga diet and yoga kriyas, at Pranamaya Kosa - breathing practices, breathing kriyas and Pranayama. At the Manomaya Kosa, the practices are meditation [Cyclic meditation and Om meditation], devotional sessions and happy assembly, whereas lectures, counseling and satsangs correct the notions about one’s life ambitions and goals that form the basic conceptual root for the life style of the individual. Karma yoga and tuning to nature are the practices that help one to get established in Anandamaya Kosa bringing bliss in our lives.
Based on all these information, we felt confident to start off our courses in yoga therapy with several workshops, camps, conferences, and seminars between 1980 and 85. Thousands of patients participated, learnt the techniques and started giving their feed back. Based on the experiences of the patients we went on learning what, why and how of many of the techniques taught to them. A general set of integrated approach of yoga therapy which gave fascinating results in diseases like asthma, diabetes, hypertension, anxiety, etc. started evolving into more and more specific practices which could give quicker results, requiring lesser duration of practices. We also learnt from the feedback of patients how to give immediate relief for episodic conditions like asthma, migraine, panic disorders, etc. While treating these patients, we recorded data before and after 2 weeks of yoga therapy and followed them up to 10 years. The results were statistically analysed and published in indexed scientific medical journals.
This series of booklets include step by step instructions for the set of practices, which could be practiced for an hour daily by patients with different ailments. These are safe practices. The practices that could be harmful for the conditions have been carefully avoided based on the knowledge of the physiological effects of these practices and its expected effects on the disease.
However it is safe for you to ask your doctor or medical advisor before you start practising these techniques. The ideal way to use this booklet is to keep this as a reference book after you have learnt them under the guIdance of a yoga teacher trained in our system of yoga therapy.
The list of practices mentioned in the contents are all safe. If you have more than one illness, you need to select the common practices from the list for all those illnesses (see our other volumes).
The ideal way to plan your daily yoga practices is, 45 minutes of physical practices followed by Savasana in the morning; and practice Pranayama and Meditation for 45 minutes in the evening. Daily practice is mandatory. Physical practices have to be performed only on an empty stomach i.e., 4 hours after a major meal or 2 hours after a small meal. Do not practice yogasanas when you are very tired or during menstruation. Meditation and Nadanusandhana can be practised even after a meal or during menstruation in women.
We are indebted to Sri Rameshji, Sri Ganga Ningombam, Sri Amrit ram, Sri Natesh and many other Yoga Therapists for their help in preparing this booklet.
Dr R Nagarathna
Dr H R Nagendra
Dr S S Srikanta