Yoga and Modern Medicine - A Comparison
The fact that yoga can prevent and cure many ailments is well known. Yoga should not be viewed as an alternative system of medicine but as a primary form of cure in those areas in which yoga alone can cure ill-health. Yoga can tackle many major illnesses non-invasively; it is not just a stress-reliever or a panacea. This places yoga in a different dimension altogether. Modern medicine uses bio-feedback as a stress-relieving technique, but yoga works on the inner senses and mind in a conscious process and is more direct in its approach. It is an automatic feedback system.
Modern medicine undergoes constant change. Theories alter by the minute. Terminologies are modified in each national or international conference. Newer drugs are being discovered to tackle old and new illnesses; old illnesses are vanishing and new ones taking their place.
The science of yoga however, has remained unchanged, as the yogic procedures have been researched on and determined by our ancient seers. There are clear-cut guidelines for both prevention and cure. Today when, in despair at the failure of Western medicine to deliver every time, we are turning to natural remedies, yoga is coming into its own.
The ancients said that the mind is the cause of all diseases, physiological or mental. Modern medicine has corroborated this with the word `psychosomatic'. Now there is clear proof that mental stress produces many diseases coronary and respiratory illness, peptic ulcers, weak immune systems. Mental stress is due to disorganised behavior inside the psyche. The soma or body is influenced by the sense organs (which are the agents of the mind). On coming into contact with a pleasurable situation or object for example, a cigarette they give feedback to the mind. The organs of action pursue the same object to perpetuate the experience.
Thus, the mind and senses are caught in a vicious cycle each reinforcing the other, being themselves reinforced by the experience. Patanjali emphasised that the cause of pain lies in the identification of the seer with the seen, and the remedy lies in the disassociation. If the mind is silenced by the practice of asanas and pranayama and the senses are quietened, one's perception is altered, leading to a sense of detachment in observation. The senses are not stimulated. The person uses innate intelligence to remain unaffected by pleasurable situations. In other words, realising the transient nature of everything, he or she is equanimous in all situations.
The relation between the psyche and soma is harmonized by the practice of yoga. Drugs may cure illnesses, but the basic inner foundation for achieving health, the harmonization of the inner psyche, is not established. Yoga is of most value in this.