“All medical expenses will be eliminated. (referring to the benefits of the practice of trikonasana).”
Sri T. Krishnamacharya
Our approach to health in the UK is not working. The healthcare bill was 10% of GDP in 2010. Some figures show that 35% of UK citizens are chronically ill. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s are all increasing. Obesity rates have gone up from 5% to 20% of population over the last 25 years. Diabetes treatment costs the NHS £10 million a day. The majority of UK citizens have a degenerative disease by age 65 and spend the last ten years of their lives dependent on drugs. The possible lifespan of a human body is 120 years, but by 60 many of us are stiff, overweight and ill. As a nation we are spending billions on the NHS, sports activities, health centres and spas, but illness is going up. If this trend continues there will not be enough healthy people left to care for the sick and pay taxes to support the NHS.
The ancient Yogis of India developed their own methods of healthcare that also served to support their spiritual aspirations. This yoga approach to health is unique and, in contrast to the medical approach (including Ayurveda), is a system of health promotion without dependence on external support. All yoga activities are things that you do yourself. Yoga offers an integrated approach that encompasses all the elements of our lives, is inexpensive and does not require equipment, stadium’s or treatment centres. All you need is a small space, some time and some knowledge.
The paradigm of placing our efforts on treatment rather than prevention is distorting Yoga’s potential as it is becoming more prestigious in our culture to be a Yoga Therapist than a Yoga Teacher. The other distortion is the sports paradigm which leads people to practice in a manner that ignores the unique health principles of Yoga and that can invite injury. Sport and health are not always the same thing. In our local Air Ambulance newsletter, sports and leisure call-outs are second to road accidents in number.
Where can we begin to progress and change in this scenario? There is a story about a man walking by a river and he sees a baby floating in the river so he rescues it. No sooner has he done this than he sees another baby, which he of course rescues. This keeps on repeating with more babies floating down to be rescued. The question is; at what point do you go up the river to stop babies being put in the water?
Many people say they have not got the time, and it is true that our lives are full,…my answer to that is: if you do not make time for health you will have to make time for illness. So make an appointment with your Yoga practice like you would with a valued friend. Like a good friend, the relationship will nourish and sustain you.
So, if you are still reading this, let’s accept that we need to make some changes. It takes time to change a habit, but it is possible. Habits that are considered British, like drinking tea and eating potato, were imported to our country and spread to become part of our national culture. Over the next few months I will present some basic principles of Yogic health, and if you wish, you can refine or begin that practice or lifestyle activity. Soon these activities will become a beneficial aspect of a healthy yogic lifestyle.