The term ‘Prakriti’ when used in relation to the humanform indicates a physical and emotional body in a natural, healthy state. When used in other contexts Prakriti refers to nature or to a natural wholesome state of the environment. The opposite of Prakriti is Vikriti, which signifies abnormality or imbalance. In relation to the body or mind Vikriti means disorder or dis-ease. The word disease (dis + ease) refers to not having a comfortable and sound physical or mental condition, that is, the presence of illness. Analogous to the concepts of Prakriti and Vikriti, Yoga makes use of the words ‘Samadhi’ (deep and devout meditation) and ‘Vyadhi’ (disease or disorder). And as we noted earlier, Patanjali states that Vyadhi is the first major obstacle on the path to Samadhi as all illness distracts the mind from concentration.
Before beginning a more detailed study of the therapeutic application of Yoga, we must have a clear understanding of exactly what constitutes the “natural state” of the human body and mindwhen in a sound and healthy condition.
In Indian philosophy it is believed that human existence is comprised of five levels or sheaths known as the Koshasandreferred to as Panchakoshas (pancha = five in number). The first Kosha is Annamaya Kosha (the Food Sheath), the secondPranamaya Kosha (the Energy Sheath), third is Manomaya Kosha (the Mind Sheath), fourth is Vidnyanmaya Kosha (the Extra Sensory Perception Sheath), and fifth the Anandmaya Kosha (the Divine Bliss Sheath). The body is considered to be sound and fully healthy only when all five of these sheaths are functioning properly. When there is dysfunction in any of the sheaths the body is considered disordered or diseased. In this light, knowledge of the fundamental functions of the Koshas is mandatory for the study and understanding of Yogic Therapy.
The Annamaya Kosha(energy sheath) of our body is constituted ofthe five elements(Pancha Mahabhoota):earth, water, fire, wind, and sky. The body is maintained with food (Anna - hence Annamaya Kosha,) and is made up of the cells that comprise all bones, muscles, bodily fluids, and organs, the material component of the existence of human life. A disorder in any of the sheaths is inevitably projected on the material level of the body, and the roots of any disorder in the Annamaya Kosha may not lie only in the body but also in any of the other sheaths as all sheaths are interrelated in their functioning. Thus to treat the root cause of any disease the functioning of all sheaths needs to be understood.
All body parts require energy to function. In Indian philosophyPrana is defined as the inspirational energy that drives body parts to function and this inspirational energy is found in the Pranamaya Koshaor energy sheath. The Pranamaya Kosha is not substance based like the Annamaya Kosha.Prana is unseen, its existence sensed by the outcome of its functioning. The body cannot live without Prana. By analogy, even if the wiring of a bungalow is complete the electrical instruments do not work unless electricity is passed through the wires. Similarly, the body cannot work unless the inspirational power, the pranic energy, is supplied to it.
The functions of pranic energy (the Pranamaya Kosha) are to instigate the movement of the muscles, to prompt the glands to create and secrete hormones, to activate the brain, to control the body organs, and to initiate the senses to perceive. To carry out the functions of the systems in the body pranic energy has its own system of functioning. A disorder that occurs in the functioning of the pranic system will inevitably become evident in the Annamaya Kosha.
Another system operating in the existence of human life is the mind, known in India as the Manomaya Koshaor mind sheath. This system is also not made of matter that is visible. It functions on a subtle level but its results are evident. The operation of the mind and the mind kosha arereflected in all sheaths and systems of the body including the Pranamaya Kosha and the Annamaya Kosha. Indeed, mind controls the functioning of the other systems and this control is conclusive. As we say in India,Mana Evam Manushyanaam Kaaranam Bandhamokshayo -The force behind liberty or entwinement in the human life is the human mind.
The mind is particularly crucial in perceiving and deriving knowledge from the senses and perception without the mind is simply impossible. Interpreting meaning and storing perceptions, comparing new perceptions with those already stored, concentration, memory,our reactions to situations in daily life, and creativity are some of the key functions of the mind.
The mind is related to the nervous system. The mind holds the reins of the body through the medium of the nervous system. The body will remain calm if the mind is calm and as a result will function normally and properly. Contrarily, if the mind is not calm and stable the body will follow suit. When we feel angry it is because of the mind and this induces an unhealthy, imbalanced, abnormal state of the body.
Disorder in the mind creates a disorder in the body. The mind is the root cause of disorder and hence needs treatment. Treating the body will not suffice. Taking medication to normalize the functions of the body (the Annamaya Kosha) without getting to the root cause as to why the body is not properly functioning will not treat the disorder properly. Medication will only suppress the symptoms of the disorder without determining and treating the root cause. It is at these times that mind influencing Yogic processes will be most useful.
The Vidnyanmaya Koshaor Extra Sensory Perception sheath is still more powerful than the Manomaya Kosha. ‘Vidnyan’ here means ‘Vishesh Dnyan’ (ESP). This is a very extensive aspect of human life. The common man however is not aware of this aspect as most of the times it is in the dormant mode. It is thus not directly related to the first three sheaths discussed above. When this connection comes into existence the remarkable power of this sheath comes on the perceptional level of the body and the mind. Some processes of the Core Component of Yoga help in making this relationship active. If in some way any mistakes occur with the Vidnyanmaya Kosha in relation to any of the other sheaths, there may be a dysfunction in the system of the other sheaths and the body may experience a disorder. This level of the study is complicated and inevitably needs to be done under perfect guidance. That being said, we will not delve further into this subject for this particular course.
The uppermost sheath is the Anandmaya Koshaor the Divine Bliss Sheath. At this stage the human being arrives at a state beyond the earthly joys and sorrows. This stage takes the human being beyond all emotions. It is a state of Blissful Joy, which comes from the entire stability of the human body and mind that can– we believe – only befully attained by the practice ofYoga. The basic criterion for attaining such bliss is the normal and healthy functioning of all the sheaths.
As can be seen from this brief overview, we will have to focus only on the first three sheaths – the Annamaya Kosha, Pranamaya Kosha and the Manomaya Kosha - for guidance regarding the kinds of disorders we are going to study. The dysfunction or the disorder created in any of these sheaths creates the disease and the outcome of the disease is manifested in the Annamaya Kosha. This is synonymous withwell played music. The notes and chords played by the musical instruments must be in tune with that of the singer as the rhythm binds them in harmony. If any of the instruments is not in harmony with the other instruments and the singer the music will be inharmonious and the musical notes will not appear melodious. The harmony between the chords of the instruments, the rhythm, and the words and notes sung by the singer brings about the union that makes the music most harmonious, or by analogy healthy and successful. Life is similar to a musical program. The soul is its singer. Mind, brain, ego and the individual consciousness (chitta) are the instrumentalists playing with the organs of the body acting as their instruments. The orchestra of life becomes melodious only if all these are in synchronization, otherwise it starts complaining. Synchronization is the healthy state. Disharmony is the diseased or disordered state.
Whenchords and wrong notes are played it creates disorder and brings about disharmony in the melody of the orchestra. The agitations of these circumstances rouse the mind through the medium of the Vrittis (modification of the mind) and reactions to these agitations then take place. These reactions are termed ‘Kleshas’ or ‘miseries’ or ‘sufferings’ in Yoga. The reactions are born in the mind and they spoil the synchronization of all systems. That means they create obstacles in the functioning of the system.
There are nine such obstacles described in Yoga and they are stated in the following Sutra: Vyadhistyan Sanshaya Pramaadalasyaavirati Bhraantidarshanaalabdhabhoomikatvaa| Navsthitatatvaani Chittavikshepah Te Antarayah|| (Yoga Sutra 1-30)
The first obstacle is disease or disorder. The creation of sufferingmust stop so thatobstacles may not be created. Disgusting circumstances should not arise for this reason; however,some such circumstances are not within our control. Accordingly there must be control of modification of the mind so that the birth of pains does not take place and hence no obstacles are created. Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodhah| (Yoga Sutra 1-2). (Yoga is the inhibition of the modification of the mind.) (Ref. Taimni).
The benefit of Yoga is that it not only repairs the damages in the body or mind but regains its healthy state. This is why the Yogic processes are being used as a therapy to attain freedom from disease.
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