Dosha, Pancha Kosha, … and Other Keys to Yoga Therapy
Most practitioners of yoga therapy have been slow to really absorb its fundamental concepts and basic principles.
Instead, yoga therapy has swiftly merged with western medical thought and taken on a strangely familiar western medical slant that Yogacharya Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, a yoga master and prominent physician has so aptly coined “yogopathy.”
Understanding Yoga Therapy
In last month’s Yoga News, we published the first of a series of article that Dr. Ananda has prepared on yoga therapy, entitled “Yoga Therapy, or Yogopathy?” These articles shed some much-needed light on an increasingly popular approach to healing, explaining the real foundation and proper methodology of yoga chikitsa (yoga therapy).
In the second article in the series, entitle “The Yogic Structural Systems,” Dr. Ananda outlines the pancha kosha (the five sheaths) and tri sharira (the three bodies). He points out that the view in yoga and ayurveda (Indian systems of medicine) that we are not just the body but are of a manifold nature, and that treatment for imbalance (disease) must take all of these dimensions into account.
He goes on to delineate seven principle substances, or sapta dhatus that yoga and ayurveda consider to comprise the human body: rasa (chyle), rakta (blood), maamsa (flesh), medas (fat), asthi (bone), majjaa (marrow) and sukra (semen); and points out the importance of balancing the tri dosha, the three humors vata, pitta and kapha, for health and vitality.
He also points out that, in addition to the tri dosha, understanding primary yogic concepts such as the chakras (the psychic energy centers) and the nava dhushyas (the nine physical structural systems) is fundamental to properly using yoga as therapy.
Unlike many in the Western Medical community today, Dr. Ananda shows a sharp understanding of the traditional yoga healing perspective, and a unique insight into its relevance and relationship to modern health and healing.
The Illusion of Western Medicine
There is often fierce opposition to the ideas within the body of yoga and yoga chikitsa, concepts which are quite foreign to the Western way of looking at the human being. As yoga enthusiasts and as scientists though, we should always be striving for greater understanding, and not simply be content with what we believe, or have come to believe as true because of our culture and our conditioning.
For instance, the image that the Western medical approach reflects the most evolved understanding of human health simply does not match up with the facts. The appallingly low success rate associated with conventional Western medical treatment is ample support for that declaration.
In a fully referenced report entitled “Death by Medicine,” this dark reality is illuminated, revealing among other disturbing statistics the fact that the total number of deaths caused by conventional medicine is an astounding 783,936 per year, making the American medical system the leading cause of death and injury in the US!
That’s not to suggest that modern medicine does not provide great value. It certainly does, and in many cases, it saves lives. But the impression that modern medical treatment is responsible for most healing that takes place under its care is an illusion.
We know that the human body has a powerful internal potential for healing and rejuvenating itself. The majority of healing actually takes place in spite of medical treatment, not necessarily because of it. A well-respected physician once quipped to me, “the doctor’s role is to keep the patient amused while they heal themselves.”
… and as the renowned physician and yogi Dr. Swami Gitananda said:
“It is the limiting concept of man as Eka Kosha (one body), that has lead to all of the limitations of Western science, whether that science be medical or philosophical.”
A Balanced, Holistic Approach to Healing
Yoga therapy is an integrated, holistic approach to combating disease, one that often uses physical techniques in its treatment approach, but still looks far beyond the mechanical structures of the body to find the underlying causes of disease and disharmony.
A yoga therapist is not just a physiotherapist. A yoga therapist is also a psychologist, a philosopher, a scientist, a physician, a metaphysician, and a spiritualist. Their job is not only to help remove the physical pain, but to help the patient to understand themselves better and to ultimately eliminate the reasons why they are suffering in the first place.
Read Dr. Ananda’s 2nd article on yoga therapy: The Yogic Structural Systems.
Read additional articles in Dr. Ananda’s yoga therapy series:
- Yoga therapy # 3: PRINCIPLES OF YOGA CHIKITSA
- Yoga therapy # 4: SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF APPLYING YOGA AS A THERAPY
- Yoga therapy # 5: MODALITIES OF YOGA AS ATHERAPY
- Yoga therapy # 6: USING AN INTEGRATED APPROACH
A couple more insightful articles on Yoga Therapy:
- Yogic Concepts of Health and DiseaseBy: Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani
- Yoga Chikitsa: Yoga Therapy origin, scope and practical applicationsBy: Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri