What is Yoga?
When people in the West think of Yoga, images of men and women stretching and breathing deeply immediately come to mind. However, the practice of moving in and out of physical poses, or Asanas, accompanied by deep breathing is only a small part of the system of health known as Yoga. Actually Yoga itself is only a small part of a larger system of medicine called Aryuveda, or The Knowledge of Life, that developed in ancient India as part of the Vedic culture (see history of Yoga).
Aryuvedic medicine was akin to ancient India, as Allopathic or Osteopathic Medicine, is to our society. It was the collective system of medicine of the time. Complete with a pharmacology practiced in the way of herbal remedies, surgical procedures and a comprehensive system of overall health maintenance and body and mind mastery known as Yoga.
Asanas, the physical aspect of Yoga, is the third limb of what is known as the Eightfold path of Yoga in most traditions. The other limbs; Yama (moral conduct), Niyama (contemplation), Pranayama (prana or breath control), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (focused concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (superconscious experience of the Oneness of existence).
The practice of Yoga that is commonly known is a combination of Asana, Dharana and, depending on the practitioner, Dharana and Dhyana. The first two limbs, Yama and Niyama, which refer to one’s philosophy on life and parameters of right and wrong, are personal and vary depending on the cultural background and life experiences of an individual. The last limb, Samadhi, is mystical. A deep meditative state described by advanced practitioners as a feeling of extreme peace, contentment and interconnectedness with the universe.
The use of Yoga in the context of Regenerative medicine is mainly for physical health and optimization. Through the correct use of asana and pranayama, proper alignment of the body can be restored allowing the system to return to equilibrium and balance.
Each pose, or asana, is designed to have a particular effect on the physical body. At times asanas are united with pranayama, where internal body locks are united with rhythmic breathing placing pressure on various nerve plexuses and producing profound effects in the body.
At Ocyon when we use Yoga, or Asana to help patients recover from an injury, or re-align their bodies we focus on the health applications of the pose. Combining our integrative nutritional approach, we seek to restore the body to optimal function and create an internal environment of maximal healing. Chiropractic care is based on the principle that the body has an innate intelligence and that through correct alignment health can be restored.
Through the use of Asana we seek to restore correct alignment which will allow the nerves to flow freely into the joints allowing for proper impulses, smooth gliding on the articular cartilage of the bone ends within the joints, and proper motion of the limbs and joints preventing degenerative changes that arise from poor alignment.
The use of Yoga is not required for recovery and only used when a patient feels comfortable or expresses interest in learning about it. Other forms of Rehabilitative exercise can also be ued as part of the recovery process and will also be very effective in augmenting the results of our Regenerative Procedures.
Prana, or life force or breath, in Aryuveda is an animating force that occupies all living beings. Comparable to the “Force” in the Star Wars series, it is the idea that there is an energetic component of living beings that cannot be easily measured or seen.
Chinese Medicine has the same idea of this animating principle referred to as Chi (see section on QiGong). In Chinese Medicine the body has a network of energy channels, called Meridians which form the basis of the acupuncture system. Aryuvedic Medicine has the same theory of an energetic network in the body, which they call Nadis.
The use of Pranayama, or breath control has various levels of depth and understanding. For our patients when we use Yoga as part of their rehabilitation, we focus on simple deep breathing, aimed at calming down the patients nervous system and allowing the body to deeply relax into each pose permitting the full healing effect to take hold.