- B. L. Agrawala
There is general misconception that "Yoga stands for Physical Culture",
that is, certain physical exercises like stretching, bending,
compressing etc. Also that one can keep fit by exercising one's legs,
hands, body or by making certain body movements like jumping, jogging,
walking, swimming etc.
Yoga recognizes that it is not a body, it is not a mind, it is not a
soul that we are training. "It is the man that we are training, we must
not divide him." The human body is made of a physical body, a mind and a
spirit, and the three parts are so dependent on each other that any
disturbance in one part effects the whole system.
Very often the "mental part" i.e. emotions are ignored. At the Ochsner
Clinic in New Orleans a report was published reviewing 500 consecutive
admissions to that institution – 77% of the patients were sick with one
disease, usually called "Psychoneurosis" – now known as "Psychososomatic
Psychosomatic illness results from the circumstances of daily living.
There are people who are attacking themselves continuously with
emotional bombardments like cares, difficulties, troubles and never try
to rise above into a realm of joy and pleasure. Such people are more
prone to psychosomatic illness.
A friend of mine built a beautiful bungalow amidst natural surroundings
of Sahyadri Hill at Khandala, which was meant to be used for weekend
holidays. I drove past one summer day and I thought to myself, "That
bungalow ought to make Patel happy. So I said later, "That's a wonderful
bungalow" and Patel said "Yes, but the caretaker does not maintain it
properly. Every week I have to send my nephew to get it cleaned and keep
it fit before we plan a weekend holiday." Once I happened to take Patel
to the bungalow unplanned on a sudden visit. He hesitated but made it.
When we reached there we found that the place was kept perfectly in
order. "See how nicely the place is maintained. You need not send your
nephew in future to see it in order before you come here." And he said,
"Oh the caretaker was specially interviewed by me and recommended by my
in-laws and you know how much he costs me."
People like Patel invariably get a psychosomatic illness and when they
get it they are invalid for the rest of their lives. You can do nothing
Then there are people who keep on being too concerned about each and
everything, anxious, worrying all day about something or the other. If
there is nothing to worry about business or at home they worry about
Miss. Bela, down in the same lane. Why does she come home late? How does
she afford so many fashionable clothes or make-up? What is going to
happen to this girl? Who will marry her?
Lastly there are people who are entrapped into some type of mess ,
financial loss, domestic troubles, loss of some kith and kin.
How does this worrying bring illness? We normally suppose that "thinking
is a process that takes place in the brain only." But it is not true,
thinking involves the entire body and a number of nerve impulses
centering in the brain. Particularly it is true when an emotion colors
our thinking. Psychologist William James defines "Emotion" is a state of
mind that manifests itself as a perceptible change in the body.
It need not be told that when a man is angry, his face gets red, eyes
widen, muscles tighten up. That is the state of mind manifesting itself
by a perceptible change in the body. Most of our negative emotions
produce muscle tightness. It begins to hurt. It produces pain. Tension
is shown in the back muscles of the neck, upper end of esophagus causing
intolerable pain like ulcer, sometimes muscle spasm can occur in any
part of the colon and sometimes intestinal tract or covering of blood
vessels respond to emotional stimuli which may even cause skin diseases.
Skin reacts to anxiety, worry or disgust and the serum is actually
squeezed out through the wall of blood vessel and into the skin.
Muscle tension is just one of the symptoms in a psychosomatic illness.
Another way is the effect on endocrine system. Sometimes we start
breathing fast, heart starts beating fast and we get a little faint.
Acute fear in the mind produces these bodily changes. An impulse is sent
to adrenal glands which squeeze adrenalin into blood stream which
accelerates the heart or affects the respiratory centre in the brain and
leads to gasping and we feel like fainting.
There are other organic effects of the psychosomatic illness. If it
happens to be the blood vessels on your heart that squeeze down every
time you get excited or angry, it is dangerous.
We may find many victims of the psychosomatic disorders up and around,
in hospitals, bed ridden at home and so on.
Yoga believes that in order to prevent psychosomatic illness one must
think right. We must learn to live a better life. Learn to accept facts
of life as they are. Learn to accept adverse situations. Learn to love
people. Learn to like work. Learn to quit frequent analysis. Have a
hobby. Learn to smile. Learn to relax. Divert when confused. Develop
faith in a higher reality. Learn to solve your problem by taking right
Article from the Yoga & Total Health Magazine of August 2010