From time immemorial, the debate continues whether yoga is an alternative medicine or not? In order to answer this, one first needs to understand what holistic and alternative medicine is.
Holistic and alternative medicine is defined as “those non-traditional systems of health care which concentrate on the relationship between the healer and the patient for attaining optimal physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual health.” This system of health care includes acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic, herbal medicine and finally, yoga. The holistic and alternative medicine practitioners include yoga teachers as well.
Yoga is indeed a medicine. It is a medicine based on ancient science rather than modern allopath. Yoga is essentially a kind of mind-body therapy whose benefits are attained by doing various exercises and meditation. Yoga is now universally recognized as a powerful alternative branch of medicine. The sole reason for this is that Yoga has no side effects whatsoever. It is perhaps the only medicine whose results are long-lasting and does not lead to any further complications or new diseases which generally happen in case of the orally-administered medicines.
If described in other terms, “Yoga is a healing system of theory and practice.” It is a combination of breathing exercises, physical postures and meditation which just needs to be practiced. This kind of treatment is neither expensive nor does it require any diagnosis or lab tests. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine had conducted a survey in the United States on who all used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), what they basically used and why it was used? It was observed that Yoga was the 5th most commonly used CAM therapy (2.8%) in the United States during 2002, which has continued to improve as the years have passed by. Finally, it has been concluded that by 2010 it will rank 1st among the CAM therapies used in US.
Why Yoga has continued to increase its popularity as CAM therapy is because it reduces the health effects of generalized stress, from which 90% of the US population suffer from. Yoga calms the nervous system and balances the body, mind, and spirit. Besides, it also lowers blood pressure, improves co-ordination, flexibility, concentration, sleep and digestion. That is why more and more people are now thronging to yoga classes to practice it under the expert guidance of a yoga teacher. In addition, people who don’t have the luxury of time can also have easy access to yoga through online web portals and videos.
To conclude, we can say that yoga is indeed a powerful medicine, if not magic!