Health Issues and Yoga
‘Yoga’s system of healing is based on the premise that the body should be allowed to function as naturally as possible. The natural process operates at its own rhythm and pace and the pace can sometimes be slow. It aims to target the cause. Yoga asanas may not effect a full recovery but in many cases can alleviate some of the suffering.
Asanas are based on the simple principles of stretching, bending, rotating, relaxing. These movements have diverse effects on the body’s systems and will either heal, stimulate or seal off specific parts of the body. Yoga is a combination of physiotherapy, psychotherapy and spiritual therapy. Practice of recommended asanas will rejuvenate the body, then tackle the cause of ailment.
‘The pace and effectiveness of the cure depends on the type of ailment, its progression, the patients constitution and commitment to treatment.’
‘Health is not a commodity to be bargained for. It has to be earned through sweat.’
‘Yoga The Path to Holistic Health’ BKS Iyengar
The practice of yoga asanas have benefited those with chronic ailments such as:
Skeleton-muscular disorders: arthritis of knees and shoulders, back pain- (lower, middle, upper), slipped disc, physical fatigue, muscle cramps, osteoarthritis
Heart and Circulation: varicose veins, high blood pressure, circulatory problems in the legs, cold extremities.
Digestive disorders: constipation, indigestion, acidity, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, duodenal ulcers, flatulence, colitis, hiatus hernia
Respiratory disorders: breathlessness, asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis, nervous disorders
Urinary Disorders: incontinence
Skin: acne, eczema, psoriasis
Brain and Nervous system: headache and eye strain, stress related headache, memory impairment, migraine, sciatica
Mind and Emotions: Irritability, mental fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, alcholism, bulimia, anorexia, drug addiction
Mens’ Health: impotence, prostrate problems, umbilical hernia
Womens’ Health: menstruation regulation, menstrual pain, premenstrual syndrome, menopause, metrorrhagia, leukorrhoea, menorrhagia, absent periods, prolapsed uterus, infertility
Women and Yoga
Women can practice yoga even when menstruating, pregnant or menopausal, but practice needs to be modified and restricted during these times.
Certain asanas are extremely beneficial for a woman’s physiology especially helping to contend with menstrual disorders and the physiological and emotional changes accompanying menopause.
When pregnant yoga practice benefits both mother and the growing foetus helping with easy delivery. Advisable to practice under guidance and advise from an experienced teacher.
What is yoga?
Yoga is one of 6 systems of Indian philosophy.
The word yoga is derived from the sanskrit word ‘yuj’ meaning union. On a spiritual level it is the union of the soul with eternal truth arising from the conquest of dualities.
Yoga places emphasis on practice, helping to cultivate good habits and a healthy lifestyle that brings about strength and conquest of the body, mind, emotions and intellect.
To enable one to attain a clear mind and so reflect the soul, the fluctuations of the mind must be removed.
Sage Patanjali penned this subject in his work known as ‘The Yoga Sutras’ of Patanjali.
What is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras?
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras have 4 chapters which relate to the 4 aims and 4 stages of life. The epitome is his 8 Limbs of Yoga.
Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga:
Yama are the universal morals (non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation, non-attachment).
Niyama is personal discipline (cleanliness, contentment, disciplined use of energy, self study, celebration of spirituality).
Asana is the physical practice that maintains the strength and health of the body, without which little progress can be made.
Pranayama is learning to appreciate breath and learning to appreciate life.
Pratyahara is withdrawing our senses to quieten the mind which teaches us to concentrate.
Dharana is true concentration which is an unbroken thread of awareness.
Dhyana is meditation; the unpremeditated retention of breath after exhalation opens the gap in the curtain of time. No past, no future, no sense of passing presence.
Samadhi is freedom from the worries of the physical world and the merging of body, mind and soul as one.
The 4 aims and 4 stages of life:
Samadhi pada encompasses universal principles, contemplation and study. Dhama is duty of ethical, social and moral obligations that are learnt in the first stages of life. It is a time to accumulate energy, to study, to make mistakes, to experience life and to gain strength for the the next phase.
Sadhana pada is about practice; it explains the means to achieve yoga to earn physical health and contentment. Artha is the acquisition of worldly goods. It is a time to earn a living, to marry and have children while maintaining good health, both physically and mentally. In this stage of life you learn to love, to know companionship, to develop compassion, to be responsible and to indulge a little.
Vibhuti pada is about accomplishments, properties and power of yoga. It is beginning to learn non-attachment. Kama is to enjoy life as you start to relinquish the family responsibilities, although you still provide guidance for your children. It is a time of moving away from the material acquisitions of life and moving towards self-realization.
It is a phase of renunciation.
Kaiualya pada deals with spiritual liberation, emancipation (the release from oppression or bonds) and freedom. It deals with absolution. Moska is the freedom of the illusions of the world, from materialistic pleasures of riches and power. It is a time when you have finished with the dualities (e.g. happiness and unhappiness), the games and the futility of it.
It is when the journey of bliss starts. In old age comes serenity, coolness and mental peace. It means that youthful desires do not continue to move and harass you.
How To Become a Yoga Teacher
Iyengar Yoga Teacher Training:
Iyengar certification is recognised world wide through this certification mark.
The Iyengar Yoga system of Teacher Training has the highest standard of excellence, requiring 5 years of training, study and a 1200+ hours of personal practice to become eligible for assessment at an Introductory level. 3 years being an Iyengar yoga student and 2 years either as an apprentice or studying a course format under a senior teacher.
Assessment has 3 components:
- Theory – questions about asana and pranayama, anatomy and physiology and yoga
- Demonstration of asana and pranayama
- Demonstration of teaching skills
The teacher can then apply for higher levels (junior intermediate, senior intermediate and senior advanced) after a minimum gap of 1.5 years between each level.
To maintain annual registration teachers must comply with ongoing studies and be a member of the Iyengar Association.
BKS Iyengar Yoga Association Australia
General Hatha Yoga Teacher Training:
Hatha Yoga Teachers are qualified as Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT) under Yoga Alliance or Yoga Australia which acknowledges the completion of yoga teacher training with an approved and registered Yoga School. Yoga Alliance includes 200 hours up to 500 hours, which can be studied as an intensive from one month – 12 months. Yoga Australia requires 350 hours studied over 12 months.
Following registration teachers are required to comply with continuing Yoga studies to maintain certification. Teachers register annually and every 3 years are required to submit a minimum number of teaching hours and a minimum number of training hours.
Experienced teachers (E-RYT) have 1000- 2500 hours of teaching, with registered children’s yoga teachers and registered prenatal yoga teachers being recognised.
Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training:
‘You first need to become a ‘good’ student through practice, commitment and enthusiasm. This may take up to 10 years of tasting and experimenting with yoga, then you might be ready to teach.
Traditionally, you had to travel to India to study with Sri Pattabhi Jois (Guruji) himself. Today, the lineage holder is his grandson, Sharath Jois. After regular visits (a few months at a time, over a few years) Sharath becomes your teacher and eventually you may be offered authorisation to teach. However some accredited teachers are now beginning to run their own trainings here in Australia.
As Ashtanga training is not a Westernised training, accreditation is given through the institute in Mysore, India. Students traveling to India, however, should not come with the expectation of obtaining certified status. The idea is that you come to learn, not to get a certification.’ (From Teacher Training Guide – Yoga Journal Australia)