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Attitude Training in Yoga Therapy

In yoga therapy there are many misconceptions. Most of the asana and Pranayam are classified as if they are for particular physical or mental problems. For example, Matsyendrasan is “good” for a diabetic patient or Savasana is good for controlling high blood pressure. However, many patients suffer from multiple problems. If the person is over weight and can’t even sit on the ground, how you are going to teach him Matsyendrasan?
Any one pose or Pranayam cannot cure any particular physical, mental or psychosomatic problem!

As a matter of fact, only asana or Pranayam is not going to help if it is done in a mechanical pattern or form. There are other factors, which are playing a major role in the recovery process. The Yoga therapist must and should impart the technology and philosophy of this science while providing the training to their patients. Plus the traditional poses are not at all suitable to the needs of the man of this age where our life style is completely different from those of the old days! It is very important to teach more simplified versions as Yoga is non-specific when it comes to effective and positive results, especially if other factors are not incorporated, for example, diet, routine, positive attitude, openness to accept the changes and learning new healthy habits etc. These other factors are:

Awareness: A person who is practicing yoga as a therapy must understand the reason for this practice. It is not important that the pose should be perfect in order to get its benefits but more important is the awareness of the body and attitude.

Concept: The concept of the pose and Pranayam must be explained and should be very clear before its practice. The scientific explanation is a must.

Commitment: There has to be a commitment from both the sides – the therapist and the practitioner. There must be a mutual understanding that one is there to explain & teach and the other is there to learn, recover and gain.

Dedication: Quite often people are taking up Yoga as an experiment. Some times when all other doors are closed, they come to yoga practices and expect a miracle or instant change or recovery! Just as there is a big difference in Allopathic medicines and Herbal medicines, likewise there is a big difference between other holistic physical training and yoga. Once the person feels some positive results, he has to practice on a regular basis as a routine. Once a week, one-hour practice is not going to help!

Trust and faith: Just as a patient trusts his doctor or any other health practitioner, in the same way there has to be a faith & trust in whatever the patient is practicing during Yoga therapeutic sessions. It is very important that a good rapport is maintained during the treatment and follow-up sessions.

Attitude: Often, people who believe in other faiths or religions are not ready for certain yoga practices when it comes to the philosophy and devotional practices for relaxation and meditation. The attitude is that ‘I want to learn yoga but I don’t want to learn the philosophy; I’m here to learn only poses and breathing.’ In other words, ‘I want to learn swimming but without getting wet!’ Here, it is very important for a therapist to provide the scientific explanations instead of giving the religious reasons. All yoga practices are based on the laws of the nature and nature has nothing to do with various faiths or religions. It is very true that the science of Yoga was developed in India and majority of Hindu persons practice that. The base is of Hindu faith – but as a way of life. All Hindu scriptures and literature are explaining Yoga and its various paths. To teach and learn Yoga, one has to have some sort of knowledge of Bhagawat Gita, Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Hath-yoga Pradipika and such texts.

Here the intention is not to teach the religion but the philosophy behind the practice. If certain techniques are practiced with a certain attitude, then it helps more than just a mechanical practice. E.g. Chanting of OM as a universal sound!

Many attitudes are cultivated while practicing any pose. Each and every move can provide a space to learn a certain attitude if explained and developed during its regular practice. It could be from the gross to the subtlest level! That will help the patient in the long run to change his life style and in cultivating healthy habits for good!

Manjari Bhatt is a Yoga Teacher & Therapist and Founder of Yoga Education Centre Ontario...More

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