By Shameem Akthar
You can heal even complex disorders through yoga provided you are willing to follow some basic ground rules, says Shameem Akthar
Shameem Akthar has trained as yoga Acharya with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, Kerala, and is a master-trainer in neuro-linguistic psychology.
As a healing tool, yoga must ideally be used as a complement to other conventional therapies. It must also be used wisely and with intense awareness as to which poses heal and which may contraindicate your healing. You cannot stick to a set but must follow poses set as per your individual need. There can be no compromise on that.
For instance, in knee problems leg raises and inversions are healing but cross-legged and kneeling poses are contraindicated. In heart problems and circulatory disorders, inversions and arm balancers that pressurise the heart, like the peacock, may actually be dangerous, at least in the initial stages till the heart is gently acclimatised to yoga or physical exercise. In skin problems forward bends heal one by fuelling blood to the face. However, in very toxic conditions at least initially, surya namaskar must be avoided. So also inversions since they can push the toxic wastes back into the body.
Dedicating a large proportion of the practice to breathing practices like pranayama will also help boost respiratory capacity and confidence of those who have suffered from long-term respiratory problems, including asthma. However, they may feel dizzy initially or even nauseated if rushed into such practices because they are not used to the greater oxygen levels. So learn these practices gradually.
Those with nervous system disorders need to focus on balancing poses and arm balancers for emotional healing, so they can tone, focus, harmonise the two brain hemispheres, boost inner confidence and self-esteem. Again, balancing poses and arm balancers can be very challenging initially to those with attention deficit, sleep disorders, anxiety attacks, panic orders and who are pathologically shy. But learning them over a phased manner will help.
When a pattern of illness has to be weaned out of the body, there will be a lot of resistance towards that release. That is why it is very important to grade the use of yogic therapy so that it takes you uphill towards health, instead of downhill.
(Shooting bow pose):
Sit with both legs out in front. Hold the big toe of the right leg, by bending the leg at the knee, and drawing the foot towards yourself. Inhale. Exhaling, draw the big toe towards yourself, aiming to lead it up the ear as shown. The left hand should be at the left foot, as shown. Hold the drawn foot high, breathing normally for ten to 15 seconds. Release the leg, repeat for the other side.
Benefits: This is a safe pose, used to heal and stretch the body gently. Depending on flexibility the intensity of the pose may be upped over time, but it releases the stiffness overall, allowing better blood circulation, removal of waste disposal, clears lymphatic drainage pathways, works the joints powerfully at the shoulders, knees and hips, elbows etc. Improves mental focus and stamina.
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