As Indians, yoga is an integral part of our heritage and culture. While a lot of us today are aware and follow other forms of fitness too, it was not uncommon to hear of our grandparents and great-grandparents religiously practice yoga, even in their old age.
There is a story in nearly every family about how someone comfortably lived up to the age of 95 years and the secret to their wellbeing was that they did yoga, even on the day before they died. We have also probably heard of friends and family talking that their grandfather can do a shirshasana (headstand) even at 80 years of age.
It is no secret that yoga is the key to holistic wellbeing. A yogic lifestyle includes asana practice, pranayama, mindfulness, kriyas, the right diet and even an ideal routine of when to eat, when to sleep etc. It truly brings balance to your body, mind and spirit.
However, practicing yoga regularly is more of a preventive measure than a curative one. With the number of people suffering from lifestyle diseases and disorders increasing, yoga is being used as a therapy and as a supplement to their treatment plan.
For example, one of the most common root causes of imbalances like diabetes, heart trouble, migraine, hyperlipidaemia, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome etc. is stress. Stress increases the cortisol hormone in our bodies and yoga helps balance it.
In another case, dust and pollution, especially in our metro cities, have given rise to serious respiratory disorders, like bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis and more. Regular practice of asanas like gomukhasana (the cow face pose) and setubandasana (the bridge), pranayama and kriyas like kapaalbhaati can help ease the symptoms. In fact, I have known people living in the polluted environs of Delhi who have consistently practiced yoga every day and followed an intensive pranayama program every winter and have overcome their respiratory issues so much so that they no longer need medication.
However, it is important to keep in perspective that there is no cookie cutter approach to include yoga as a therapy in your lifestyle. As doctors, we cannot be generic while recommending a yoga routine because the severity of the disease or injury can differ from person to person. For instance, for one person, the cause of lower back pain could be a sports injury, while for another person it could be spinal degeneration or osteoporosis. Similarly, if there are two persons suffering from insomnia, for one it could be stress-related and for the other it could be a deeper psychological cause like OCD.
At Naad Wellness, we help guests manage a number of health and lifestyle issues - from a short detox experience to a more intensive weight loss program, from helping them cope with diabetes to helping them ease the symptoms of PCOS. The therapeutic yoga part of each of these programs are different, even if we have two guests staying with us for the same program. Remember, one size does not fit all and it you must consult a seasoned yoga instructor along with your treating doctor before you begin any therapeutic yoga regime. If you have any questions on how you can incorporate yoga as a form of therapy in your daily fitness routine, feel free to write to me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author: A graduate of S.D.M.College of Naturopathy & Yogic Sciences, Dr Deepthy's expertise includes Yoga, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology and physiotherapy. She is also known for her empathetic ear and counselling skills. A firm believer in the healing powers of food, Dr Deepthy is responsible putting overseeing the diet of our resident guests and also helping them make lifestyle alterations when they check-out from the centre.