Yoga is the coming together of mind, body and soul. This integration is essential for a healthy, spiritually enlightened life. As a science, yoga has great therapeutic value and is used by many people to maintain health and to promote healing. It is now being widely used as part of treatment programmes for people with serious medical problems.
In the West, yoga has gained recognition and respect as an alternative therapy. Medical universities have incorporated its principles in their curriculums and “pain management” centres of many hospitals use it to help their persons with chronic disabilities. Natural childbirth educators use yogic breathing and relaxation exercises to help their persons go through labour without resorting to drugs. Ironically, however, here in India, the source of yoga and the home of many of its greatest teachers and practitioners, it is still not fully recognized as a true healing art.
A range of specific, remedial asanas are recommended for people with problems like Cerebral Palsy, Down’s Syndrome, attention deficit disorder and epilepsy. When yoga is used with young children or with people with particular disabilities, certain modifications are necessary as all asanas are not suitable for them. Props such as cushions, bolsters, and chairs, may also be used to achieve and maintain beneficial postures they are unable to achieve independently.
To use yoga for therapeutic purposes requires a deep knowledge both of yoga itself and of the nature of the physical disorder. Only a highly trained practitioner would be able to treat persons with medical problems or disabilities. Becoming this proficient entails years of practice.
There is no recognized course in the world for yoga therapy. There are, however, many schools throughout India which impart yoga in the traditional guru-disciple style. Studying in this way involves enormous self-motivation and discipline and, to be truly effective, a total immersion in yogic philosophy. This means a very pure life: giving up meat, smoking and alcohol are just the beginning!
Yoga therapy is in the process of developing and much exciting, pioneering research is being done into its therapeutic potential. It is possible today to choose yoga as a way of life and to make your career one part of that. There is no fixed time frame, no degree and no guarantee, but those who take that leap of faith will find themselves entering a whole new world of peace and good health.