Integrated Approach to Yoga Therapy

Yoga has a value far beyond what is commonly believed. To really derive benefits from yoga one must understand the complete man. A human being is not merely a bundle of nerves, organs, bones and muscles with specific bodily functions. Ancient Indian texts known as the Upanishads talk of different levels or planes of human existence. We are far more than we appear physically. The 5 dimensions or sheaths as they are called are an integral part of what I would like to refer to as the mind body complex. The first sheath is the visible body or physical sheath. The existence of this alone does not denote life since a dead person is also composed of the same material and so there is evidently a new dimension, life. This is called the vital sheath. By the same token a person in a coma is not completely whole and therefore another dimension is shown. This is called the mental sheath. A person being fully alive and mobile may not be in control of his mind, and may be deranged and this brings us to the next level or the intellectual sheath. In times of great pleasure and elation we are conscious of the spiritual dimension, which we will call the blissful sheath.

These 5 sheaths comprise the mind body complex and are to be treated as integral parts of the whole being. We are all experiencing these levels of existence in our daily lives and as we move about and conduct our daily activities the dominant consciousness shifts from one to another. While we are eating our favorite food we are in the physical and also enjoying not just the taste but also the thought of eating it. While running for a bus we may be unaware of what we are doing but focusing completely of the problem our late arrival will cause at the office. In times like these the mind often supports the body to do things that we, ordinarily cant do. Similarly while struggling over a knotty problem we become completely unaware of our surroundings and cannot see or hear things even though our eyes are open and people are around us. In such a situation we often say “ Oh I was somewhere else” These are simple manifestations of the sheaths and their effect upon us.

Yoga therapy by definition must address all the 5 sheaths if it is to be of any real use. A person prescribed certain yoga postures for weight loss will not benefit unless he is able to control his urge to eat indiscriminately. Similarly a person asked to perform certain yoga postures for his diabetes will not benefit unless he is able to also reduce stress in his mind. So an Integrated Approach to Yoga Therapy is needed.

In this system each physical ailment is treated at all levels of existence and a person is not merely given a number of postures to perform daily but a complete set of guidelines that will support his healing and recovery on all 5 levels.

  • Physical sheath practices:
    • Yogic postures
    • Diet
    • Exercise
    • Rest
    • Relaxation practices
  • Vital sheath
    • Breathing practices
  • Mental sheath
    • De- stressing practice
    • Music
    • Meditation
    • Positive affirmation
    • Spiritual practice
      • Chanting
      • Praying
      • Singing
    • Intellectual sheath
      • Lectures
      • Study
      • Self analysis
    • Blissful sheath
      • Healthy fun and enjoyment

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