Yoga teaches us how to cultivate awareness and observation in the direction towards our own path to cikitsa, a sanskrit word meaning ‘to act or oppose disease’. It awakens a personal liberation which shows us how to make our body a temple.
Understanding the beneficial role of yoga as a tool to oppose disease is not a new concept. It’s roots are deep & ancient practised for its ability to enhance the human experience. Research is now validating yoga as effective therapy for reducing symptom intensity, as well as supporting the body both during and after cancer treatments. Symptoms such as nausea, insomnia, extreme tiredness, mood fluctuations, fear, have been shown to decrease. Studies have also found that those who practiced yoga and various forms of guided imagery such as meditation have increased quality of life and a higher chance of survival post treatment.
So what makes yoga a valuable tool to act against disease. A balanced yoga session should promote a deep sense of relaxation and centeredness, it is often said that relaxation is effortlessness with intent, a term derived from the yoga-sutras. Through our developed awareness and observation in our yoga practice, we will gradually improve well-being. With appropriate facilitation and practice, true relaxation is determined by the quality of the breath, when the breath is deep and effortless, it promotes a more complete oxygenation of the blood and bodily functions, changes blood chemistry, normalizing the acid base of blood, tissue levels of calcium, which can help prevent tremors, spasms, and tension held in the muscles. As well as ionising the blood, allowing for better iron uptake.
The breath, in yoga and ayurveda is understood to introduce two things, one is air, the other is prana (pure vital life energy), both are crucial in sustaining life, as the masters of Kriya Yoga say, “no breathe, no life”. I once read that when we exhale, the lungs do not just remove carbon dioxide they also eliminate up to 250 other toxic by-products and impurities from the organs into the blood stream carried to the lungs for elimination. The process of exhalation, our breathe, removes up to 70% of toxic by-product when compared to the skin or excretory systems. Proper elimination is a crucial function for optimum well-being, particularly in ayurveda, when working well, illness, disease and other sensations both physical and mental are removed before they are lodged deeper into the body and mind and begin to present as symptoms.
Any yoga practice should be void of stress and discomfort, there should be no pain felt, according to AG and Indra Mohan in there book titled Yoga Therapy, a body position that disturbs your breathing is not an asana, (physical position in yoga), when practicing yoga from this awareness it is a gentle and gradual process, which should focus on the breath rather than the movement, both the body postures and breath are respective in a balanced and progressive practice which will promote a steadiness in the mind and nervous system and thus promote a deep experience of relaxation.