‘Yoga is harmony’ A vina gives exquisite heavenly music only when its strings are attuned adequately and played upon harmoniously. One of the principal meanings of yoga is ‘sangati’ – harmony. Joy of positive health depends upon harmony between all bodily and mental functions.
This booklet was specially written at the wishes of the Ministry of health, Government of India to give the public in general and Medical men in particular, an idea of the basic principles of Yogic Therapy and its methods.
Yogic therapy is gaining more and more popularity every day. The country is full of small and big institutions and persons who claim to cure diseases by Yogic' methods and most of these seem to carry on very well! Not all of them may be able to prove their bona fides in the field. But this is quite natural so long as there is no official standardization which, for a young therapy like the ’Yogic', will necessarily take long to attain. Mere numerical strength of its practitioners may not prove the efficacy of a system, but it does go a long way to show that, to attain such a popularity, it must have some value of its own. It should be noted that many medical practitioners who were initially inclined to look upon this therapy with scepticism and suspicion have come to recognize its merits after gaining experience. Specialists in psychosomatic medicine and psychiatry especially, both in this country and abroad, have come to show a good deal of interest in this therapy, as it is felt by them that Yoga helps to eliminate the psycho-physical tensions which they find lingering on in their patients even after recovery from mental and nervous disorders. Many members o the medical profession have by now come to value the contribution that Yoga can offer in the field of physiotherapy and rehabilitation of patients suffering from chronic disorders. It would, therefore, be rash to treat this therapy lightly or to denounce it as unscientific.
Neither is it enough for us to dote upon the methods just because they were handed down to us by our forefathers, or that they belong to a class of 'holy men' who must have only the good of the people at heart. Mere good wishes on the part of its protagonists or our national or racial sentiments for the therapy should pot lead us to have blind faith in it. It should be our duty to verify its results and to explore the exact psycho-physiological mechanism of the channels through which these results are obtained. Fortunately, the rapid and great advance that modern science is making in all fields helps one to get a better insight into these processes.
The authors’ bias towards Yoga may have reflected itself in their writings. But is has been their endeavour all the time to keep an objective outlook. the major portion of the text deals mostly with fundamental concepts on established facts in biological sciences and, as such, may not require extensive documentation. Whenever a theory of a particular school or author or some controversial matter has been presented, it has been documented by references either to names of authors or the exact passages. Occasionally, the authors have dared to introduce new interpretation based on their own personal study and experience.
Although both the authors have participated in the revision and checking of the whole text, wherever a theoretical position or bias of one author was strong, the other tended to defer to the views of the author responsible for the original draft. The text was prepared mostly by the junior author under the direct guidance and supervision of the senior one.
The aim of the booklet, as said above, is to explain to the lay public, as well as medical men, the principles on which the various procedures of Yogic Therapy are based (principles, so are as they can be gauged in the light of modem science), the special field of application of the therapy, and, last but not the least, its limitations and contra-indications. In short, its purpose is to present a comprehensive picture of the scientific aspect and rationale of Yogic Therapy in the layman's language, as far as possible. But in a text like this, one cannot avoid using technical terms. To help understand the same, a glossary has been added at the end of this book.
We wish to thank the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry, especially Shri D. P. Karmarkar. Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, for granting us the proud privilege to present this interesting topic to the public. Our thanks are also due to the staff of the Kaivalyadhama S.M.Y.M. Samiti for their helpful and constructive criticism and also in preparing diagrams, graphs and sketches that are presented in this book.
It is unfortunate that both the authors, Swami Kuvalyanandaji and Dr. S. L. Vinekar (demised on 18-04-1966 and 21-12-1967 respectively) are no longer with us to see the second impression of this book.
The value of this work can be judged from the fact that it has aroused a great interest in Yoga all over the world during these years. Requests for translation unto various languages have been received from this country and abroad and editions in some of these languages are under preparation.
The necessity of a thorough revision of the book was felt by the original authors and it may become imperative to do so in future. This will require some considerable time.
Because of the pressing demand for and unavailability of the book, which is the only one of its kind, we feel that the book should be reprinted in the original term. Those who are interested to know about further research in the field of Yoga may visit the Research Department and refer to the Yoga-Mimamsa Journal published by Kaivalyadhama, Lonavla, Distt. Pune.
We thank the ministry of Health and Family Welfare for taking interest in publication of this impression.
The third reprint of 'Yogic Therapy - its Basic Principles and Methods' is in the hands of our esteemed Yoga Sadhakas, Yoga Lovers, Yoga Experts and above all Medical men, who have been mainly considered as its end users by the authors of this book - Great Pioneer of Scientific Research in Yoga and Founder Director of Kaivalyadhama Yoga Research Institute, Swami Kuvalayanandaji and the then Joint Director of Research Late Dr. S. L. Vinekarji.
While taking up the work of its publication, we received several suggestions to improve upon the book from our well wishers. The suggestions were praiseworthy and institute expresses its heartfelt thanks for their concern for the publications of Kaivalyadhama.
But, while re—planning its publication as per suggestions, we felt that very essence of the book is getting diluted and hence, we decided to publish the book material in the same manner as it was written by the original authors. However, in order to make it at par with the International Publications, following features in the book can be noted by our readers -
l. Cover page has been redesigned
2. Color illustrations have been provided.
3. Various figures containing handwritten pointers have been provided in typed form for unambiguous reading.
We express our heartfelt thanks to Shri Nevatiaji and his family Members for their initial donation towards setting up of the Publication Fund, so that the book like these could be published. We are thankful to all our Kaivalyadhama members, for their various supports during its publication. Our sincere thanks are also due to Sri Tanpure, Prop. Ace Enterprises, Pune for excellent printing work.
Really speaking, therapy is not a field of Yoga in its proper sense. Even so, Yoga has necessarily to do with health activities. How these two are related, and in what way, we shall try to see in the following pages.
The term 'Yoga' is used to indicate both the 'End' as well as the 'Means'. In the sense of the 'End', the word Yoga signifies 'Integration', at its highest level. All the means that subscribe to help reach this goal also constitute Yoga, - in the sense of' Yukti', the means or technique. All the practices, whether high or low, that are calculated to help the progress of the aspirant towards such an integration are together known by the name 'Yoga' . Yoga is thus an integral subject which takes into consideration man as a whole. It does not divide him into water-tight compartments as body, mind, spirit, etc.
As a process of integration, it has necessarily to find ways and means to counteract the influences that are likely to contribute to any sort of 'disintegration'. Ill health of mind and body is one such. A healthy mind and healthy body are, in fact, considered as essential per-requisites to the higher practices of Yoga. To ensure the health of body and mind, Yoga Sastra (the Science of Yoga) has laid down certain positive hygienic methods, both of mental as well as physical hygiene. These constitute what is kown as Kriya Yoga in Yogic parlance. It is considered essential that every Yogic aspirant who has not attained at balance state (true health) of body and mind must first go through a course of Kriya Yoga before he starts the higher practices of Yoga proper. The aspirant is warned that unless he does this, he is likely to meet with great many pitfalls in his path, and may even become a physical or mental wreck. Cases are not lacking of those that have suffered thus owing to their rash undertaking of the higher practices of Yoga without preparing their body and mind for them, as laid down in Yoga Sastra.
The word 'Kriya' or 'Karma' (literally, action) has got a technical sense in Yoga. It means a purificatory and reconditioning process. Even in the Gita, the term Karma Yoga seems to signify the same. There appears to be a pun on the word Karma. It is meant to show that the ordinary duties oflife and one's normal actions could contribute to purification of mind, provided one changes one's attitude towards them. In Ayurveda, too, the word 'Karma' is used in this same technical sense, i.e., 'Sodhana Karma' - cleaning process - as can be gauged from the well-known branch of the Ayurvedic treatment called 'Panca-Karma-Cikitsa'. Though, in Yoga too, the word 'Kriya' or 'Karma' is used specifically for its various cleansing processes, i.e., lavages with water, air, etc., the word Kriya Yoga, as such, signifies a preparatory stage as a whole which envisages a complete reconditioning of both mind and body, so as immensely widen the range of their adaptability, as also raise the threshold of the re-activity.
Perhaps it would be better to make this more explicit. In Kriya Yoga, due consideration is given to the environmental influences, both external and internal, on the physical as well as mental processes. The attempt is to cultivate a sort of strong immunity which is capable of offering an effective resistance to the various impingements on body and mind, both from within and without. Such a fortification of body and mind is considered highly essential to bring about a balanced behaviour and stable personality which every true Yoga aims at.
It is now being recognised that positive health and feeling of well-being both have their levels and degrees, though these cannot be defined to-day in exact terms. Kriya Yoga is meant to raise this level of health and feeling of well-being to the highest degree possible. In order to obtain the same, certain principles are laid down regarding diet, residence, and conscious cultivation of helpful and healthy positive attitude towards social and personal surroundings. The idea is to create a congenial atmosphere during the period of training for higher Yoga. This achieved, certain hygienic psychophysical exercises are prescribed to recondition the body and mind. In case the system is highly clogged with waste material, certain accessory lavages (Kriyas) are specifically advocated. All these are aimed at bringing about an equilibrium not only of all the systems of the body, but also between body and mind. Thus, any training of Kriya Yoga proper submits a person to a way of life which is conducive to the organization of his psychosomatic personality in such a manner as to develop within him a capacity to withstand a considerably wide range of environmental variations, without initiating any disorder in the process of his reactions. This seems to be achieved by bringing about an altered adaptability of the tissues forming the various systems and organs, which would not readily undergo any functional disorder or pathological changes when exposed to trauma.
Autonomic and proprioceptive neuro-muscular reactions seems to have an important bearing in bringing about these results, along with certain changes in the secretions of endocrinal glands. But the stress laid on regulation of diet, respiration and cultivation of positive attitudes goes to show that the aim is primarily to bring about a beneficial change in the metabolism of the body as a whole. These metabolic changes, through the body fluids, may act on different systems, such as glandular, circulatory, nervous, excretory, etc., and bring about a complete change in the total personality of the individual, before he takes to the higher practices of Yoga. Thus, Yogic Therapy does not consist of mere lavages and exercise treatment but lays great stress on control of diet, social attitudes and personal habits so as to bring about beneficial changes in the whole of the metabolic process. It is truly an integrated approach, treating man as a whole, and, as such, should be expected to yield better results than any other system which tends to give predominance to a single manifestation of disease, ignoring the other less manifest concomitant changes, which are as important as the overt ones.
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