Yoga is primarily a philosophical science, born out of man’s need to fathom the meaning of existence. Patanjali, the father of yoga, that, “Yoga is the cessation of consciousness.” The ultimate aim of yoga is self-evolution- both for the body and the mind. In ancient times, when people lived the yogic way, good health was the natural result of their lifestyle. But, as health deteriorated with man’s changing values, yoga gained ground in its use as therapy.
Patanjali explained that uncertain action, giving rise to violence, whether done directly or indirectly, or condoned, is caused by greed, anger, or delusion in different degrees. This causes endless pain and ignorance. Through introspection comes an end to pain and ignorance. This sutra explains the essence of the genesis of ill-health in today’s world and also the method of management. Diseases are due not just to physical reasons but to decay in moral standards also. So the curative methods, should not be confined to the material plane alone.
Yoga and the power of the mind:
With regard to many of the benefits of yoga, the mechanisms are at very subtle levels. The concepts of treatment in Yoga are different from those of western medicine. Sometimes, we in the medical profession, having been tuned to a particular way of approaching the human body, find it difficult to accept other systems of cure. It is a fact that the human mind is the source of immense energy.
We use only one-tenth of our brain cells, the remainder being inactive. In a yogi, with accomplished capacity for supernormal healing, it is postulated that much more of the brain is active.
Yogis have demonstrated their healing powers time and again; but this cannot be as objectively studied as western medicine would like it to be. There are no medical yardsticks to measure many of the effects of asanas and pranayama. There is no way of studying the workings of the mind in the material plane. The mind is energy, and energy can heal or destroy, depending on the proper balance in and around us.
Life is an offshoot of the basic energy in all living things, and when this is depleted, there is a state of death. This energy balance is disturbed in many illnesses. When a drug is administered, it is not that alone which cures; the inner strength of the body also aids it. If this fails, in spite of the medicine, the patient can die.
The human will has been recognized as a considerable force in overcoming many illnesses. Beyond this, western medicine refrains from comment. But, yogic science has explored this and has realised that it is possible to achieve a state where the mind triumphs over matter.
A simple example is the ability to shut off the pain. It is possible to avoid experiencing severe pain physically by intensely repositioning the mind in a different direction. In this respect, yogis have always demonstrated the supreme capacity of mind over matter. A telling example is that of the very famous sage, Sri Ramana Maharishi of Tamil Nadu in India. When sarcoma was diagnosed, and an operation was imminent, he refused an anaesthetic and felt no pain at all.