Hatha Yoga as a Therapy
There is a tendency to believe that the mind and body are separate entities, but they are wholly connected, and they both generate tensions under stress.
The primary aim of Hatha yoga is to create a balance of the activities and processes which occur within the human body, mind and energy system. Once this balance is established, an awakening takes place in a certain energy channel called Shushumna Nadi, which is directly responsible for the expansion of consciousness. The true objective of Yoga.
That being said, even though Hatha yoga’s therapeutic effect is only consequential, it has proven to be a very successful form of treatment for various diseases.
The Vital and Mental Energies
According to Yoga, balancing the solar (vital) and lunar (mental) energies within the body is a key requisite to health and wellness. These energies are often unbalanced, which is the main cause of disease and illness.
When the vital energy is predominant and the mental energy is subordinate, there is too much physical energy and not enough mental energy to bring balance. This is the main cause of anger, argument, quarrelling; and in extreme states, violence and crime. When the mental energy is predominant and the vital energy is subordinate, instability, irrationality and even insanity are experienced. These energies flow through two channels, called “Ida” and “Pingala." Harmony and balance of the energies is based on the correct and undisturbed flow of both these energies through their respective channels.
Stress and tension
There is a tendency to believe that the mind and body are separate entities, but they are wholly connected, and they both generate tensions under stress. All mental tensions have corresponding physical tensions, and all physical tensions have corresponding mental tensions.
When one is under a stressful situation, the body’s “fight or flight” mechanism is activated, this immediately contracts the muscles to give us an advantage in a fearful situation. However, when one is stressed for prolonged periods of time, the muscles remain contracted, which eventually causes pain, discomfort, spasms, knots and even lowered mobility.
The most effective way of eliminating these tensions is by way of a well-balanced programme of asanas, pranayamas, shatkarmas and meditation. This leads to lightness of body and mind, where our creativity and joy emerges.
Why is Hatha Yoga Effective as a treatment?
Hatha Yoga’s three foremost principles make it a very potent method of therapy. These are:
- Attaining absolute health in one system within the body, thus influencing the rest of the body.
- Harmonizing the inner energy.
- Purifying and eliminating the three kinds of waste in the body.
Attaining absolute health in one system.
When two or more pendulum clocks are hung on the same wall, over time the clocks will synchronise their swings. This happens because the pendulums transmit energy towards each other over the connecting beam, eventually entering into perfect synchronisation.
Something similar happens within the human body, which has several biological rhythms. When some of these rhythms synchronise, energy consumption becomes minimal, which is beneficial. Irregular synchronisation however, is detrimental to the human body. The process of generation of seizures is closely related to irregular synchronisation of neurons.
The organs and systems within the human body carry out very specific tasks, however complete coordination between these should prevail. If any of these organs or systems come out of “sync”, it will mean that all of the body’s systems and organs are out of balance. In any state of sickness or disease, mental or physical, the systems are uncoordinated.
An upset stomach, will create an upset body. Similarly, even when multiple ailments exist, if health is created and maintained within one system, the entire body will begin to improve with time.
Harmonising the inner energy
Another vital aspect of health is energy conservation. We give vast importance to nutrition and typically ignore the inherent energy within us. All of our actions are controlled and enabled by electrical signals running throughout our bodies. Atoms are formed by protons, neutrons and electrons, which have positive, neutral and negative charges respectively. When these charges are unbalanced, the atoms become either positively or negatively charged. It is these switches in the type of charge that allows other electrons to flow from atom to atom, this is the basis of electricity. The electricity produced within our bodies, enables synapses, signals and our heartbeat. When these positive and negative charges flow in harmony, health and wellness is experienced. However, when these flows are repressed, blocked, or inadequate circulation exists, the result inevitably becomes disease.
Purifying and eliminating the three kinds of waste
Mucus, gas and acidity are the three types of continuous waste created by the human body. If we internally cleanse our body regularly, these excesses are eliminated and their formation becomes balanced and regular. This is achieved through the Shatkarmas, the first group of practices of Hatha Yoga.
Perfecting Hatha Yoga
It is of common belief that when one is completely flexible, that one has perfected Hatha Yoga. However, perfection is attained when there is complete conscious control over the vital and mental energies. Once this is achieved, wellness is experienced at physical, mental and emotional level.