Yoga has long been associated with physical health. Traditionally Yoga has been defined as a union between mind, body and spirit. Classically Yoga is understood as the science of the mind. Yoga Sutra (the threads of yoga) dates somewhere between 5,000BC to 300AD and is accredited to Sri Patanjali. In the West yoga is primarily thought of as postures, breathing, and meditation. Yoga is known to assist many of its practitioners with relaxation. Yoga is considered to be a mind-body exercise. The underlying premise of mind-body exercises is that the physiological state of the body may shape emotions, thoughts and attitudes.
Psychology and the medical model are beginning to embrace preventative health care rather than just focusing on disease. There is a shift towards finding alternatives to medication, and the treatment of symptoms. Health professionals, insurance companies and governments are looking to preventing illness rather than just managing symptoms. The preventative approach encourages regular exercise, improved diets, quitting smoking, decreased alcohol and drugs use, regular meditation and other relaxation techniques to reduce stress.
Many classical and modern psychological theorists argue that there is no separation between the body and mind. And they note that there is an interdependence between one’s mental and physical health, and society as a whole. This belief can be observed in ancient Chinese medicine. It is also reflected in the theories of body-psychotherapy or somatic psychotherapy.
Traditionally Western medicine has separated the mind and the body. This may be in part due to the complexities of understanding the effects that the mind and body have over each other. Trying to understand the complex relationship between the body and the mind is currently beyond Western science and medicine to fully understand. More recently the American Psychological Association has included, and recognises, the importance of spirituality as a subset of happiness and well-being.
Christopher Swane - Counselling and Psychotherapy Services - Wellington New Zealand