Yoga in the Health Care Setting - Aura Wellness Center

Yoga in the Health Care Setting

health careBy James Hall

Yoga in the health care setting is a timeless subject. Healthcare is a subject never far from the lips of everyday people, the media, politicians, and the myriad of professionals who make up and service our public and private healthcare institutions. Health is one of the three most significant revenue streams of any fiscal budget, and the costs seem to grow yearly.


However, with all our technological advancements and treatment modalities, why are we becoming sicker as a nation? A likely retort to this would be that as the mean age of the population increases, then so with age does our susceptibility to heart disease, cancer, and Dementia! However, the logic in this argument seems flawed. If our health service is at the cutting edge of increased longevity, why are we living longer but as sick people?

Healthcare of the Past

The answer comes from our views and attitudes to the pace of life and our overreliance on the pharmacological model. Two hundred years ago, old age was a rarity within Western cultures of Europe. People died of hot diseases related to fevers and sanitation.

However, old age was a common occurrence in America, India, and the Far East. The difference was related to the quality of their lives and attitudes. Hard work was still the same, but the quality of rest and nutrition differed from that of Europe. People spent their whole lives in one place, and the pace was leisurely.

The food was fresh and organic and prepared daily without the use of preservatives unless natural, like salt. The lifestyle varied from nomadic to subsistence, and illness was treated with herbs. The body was viewed as a spiritual vessel and treated with prayers and the correction of the astral and causal sheaths.

Healthcare Through Generations

This healthcare treatment assumed that unblocking energy currents could rejuvenate the body and restore health. The children were cared for by the elders and knowledge passed on as the parents tended to the needs of the people.

Yoga, like other systems, has its roots stretching back over 5000 years with the works of the Vedas and Patanjali, although no one can tell for certain where the origins came from, although periods like that of the fable Atlantis are often muted.

Fast forward to the 21st century now, where in Western culture, the population, through hygiene, health care, and medicine, is aging more than ever before. Conquered are the hot diseases of yester year replaced by the cold diseases of cancer, dementia and coronary heart disease.

The body is first treated physically with synthetic chemicals able to partly mimic the natural compounds historically used. The pace of life has increased to such an extent that a lifetime can be experienced in six months compared to 100 years ago. Families become fragmented, and stress through work and financial constraints is endemic.


A Medicated Population

The healthcare model is now so focused on pharmacological interventions that the aging process is paid for at significant cost to mind, body, and spirit. A medicated population is now accepted as the norm, but from the point of symptom management not affecting a cure, as there is no money for the drug companies in a well patient.

Health must encompass a fundamental change in its prevention and treatment perception to reverse this trend. For instance, it’s pointless to eat fresh food if it is genetically modified, as the long-term effects are anyone’s guess, and this list goes on and on.

The change in perception must occur within the multidisciplinary team at the coal face, primarily in the medical profession. Age-old stereotypes of the body being the sum of its physical parts must be redressed, and timeless, proven holistic systems must be incorporated.

Addressing Health for Children

Yoga ideally could and should be taught to schoolchildren as this is the first arena where minds and associated bodily responses are melded in a person’s life. For those fortunate to be unschooled, this may not be a problem, but for most, immersion in this “one box fits all” artificial environment can affect the psych in a way that can last a lifetime.

Children are steered away from the daily meditation of living in the moment to be taught what to say, what to think, and, importantly, what to feel. The focus is academia and competition, but at what cost? Enforced socialization with other children and peer groups can lead to disharmonization within the child and life in the moment.

Remember back to your childhood days and remember when every day seemed as long as a life age. Instead of reading, teach children meditation to balance their sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous responses with Pranayama techniques to help manage stressful situations. Combine this with none resistance Asana-based exercise to aid the body’s health. Include a sattvic diet at an early age, and Viola, the health care of a nation is on the mend.


Guidance to a Healthy Lifestyle

Not all of the limbs of yoga will suit everyone but they do provide pointers to a healthier lifestyle. Health is abused now at an increasing earlier age and symptoms of disharmony are left unchecked. People try to limit the pain of a missing component in their lives by acquiring things.

The relief, however, is only temporary as the next acquisition takes over, and the need for more things drives the ego. I learnt a while ago that there are three paths to this life. The first is the path of the humble and gentle soul. These tend to favor a more solitary or monastic lifestyle with inner introspection.

These souls are almost indifferent to the world and have divorced themselves from it. The second path is the path of the worldly wise. They feel some part of their life is unfulfilled, and the pain is dulled with the constant acquisition of more material things. They are in this world and think that they are of this world.

The third path is of the fringe dweller, the person who does not fit mold one or two. These people tend to have had troubled lives but try to rise above the Maya of this world. They strive for some tangible spiritual experience and find their own way. In essence, they did not divorce themselves from this reality but realized that this reality had divorced itself from them.


Expecting a Cure

More and more people are finding this direction as they awake in some part from the illusion of form. However, the majority of worldly people still form the largest component in terms of the health sector, and when the lack of harmony transmutes into physical or psychological illness, they expect a quick fix to cure this.

Enter the role of the diagnosis, the needy mind becoming the illness, and a pharmacological intervention. The most common illnesses of coronary disease and cancer are treated with drugs and fearful rehabilitation where the disease abates or the patient eventually succumbs.

As a nurse, I can say that we need a more holistic, balanced approach to health care, but this is a drug-led neighborhood. Big pharma, which sponsors many chairs at medical universities, actively discourages doctors from holistic intervention.

Medicine Through Time

History testifies to the many successful facets of yoga in health care and wellness. However, it has not had FDA approval, and 500 million dollars have been spent on double-blind RCTs. The option is to medicate, which has side effects, and then manage the side effects with more medication.

Yoga and other holistic modalities are needed in the health care setting. Meditation and Pranayama can, for instance, lower blood pressure and directly affect the Sympathetic/Parasympathetic nervous responses lowering Cortisol, etc.

This needs to be both a short-term approach and a long-term approach. The same approach needs to encourage staff who regularly abuse sex, drugs, and alcohol to affect a state of peace.


Holistic Therapies

I hope that holistic therapies will continue to grow within health care. This will increase value as the medical model is replaced with treating the energy body as a first response. However, the agenda by the pharmaceutical companies of keeping us sick needs to change, as do our priorities and values in life, all of which are challenged at times of acute illness.

Pranayama, in its myriad forms, can help regulate breathing in asthma and manage endocrine and exocrine systems. Kriya can calm the mind and purify the different sheaths if practiced regularly. Patients can undergo surgery with hypnosis instead of anesthesia and the list of benefits goes on and on.

The world of Quantum physics and the holographic field are now indicating what treatment may be possible in the future, i.e., vibrational and subatomic manipulation of energy by prayer and intent.

Whatever the direction, yoga will play an increasingly important role in Western medicine as it does in Eastern countries. However, the change will have to be embraced by the public, which has been conditioned over the last eighty years not to question the medical model.

James Hall is a Yoga teacher and he is teaching classes in the Adelaide, South Australia area.

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9 thoughts on “Yoga in the Health Care Setting”

  1. I found this a wonderful and inspiring article for health care workers. I hope that those who read it find some avenues for holistic approaches within their practice. I am a licensed Occupational Therapist as well as a psychotherapist. I also teach yoga and am certified in yoga therapy.

    Occupational Therapy professionally supports Yoga as a CAM (Complimentary Alternative Medicine). As practitioners, we can use aspects of yoga (if we are additionally trained) to assist our clients in health preservation and wellness, rehabilitation. Within certain mental health treatment protocols, relaxation and breathing techniques, are taught to manage conditions of anxiety.

    There are many other examples, but my point is, that although much more integration is needed, I believe we are accepting and utilizing the wisdom of yoga into more “conventional” medical practice as many clients, some after years of the unpleasant usage of drugs, are looking for another way to live and function in the world. Thank you for writing this and best of luck in your professional endeavors.


    Robyn Tashjian, MA, OTR/L

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