Although we have thus far acquired some basic knowledge of the structure and the functioning of the body, and physical disorders and remedial processes in Yoga, the therapeutic Yoga technique has yet to be learnt. Learning the technique will help the therapist to exercise Yogic therapy to cure the patient in a shorter amount of time. The technique starts right from the first patient interview.
The complaints described by the patient are the symptoms of a disease. Symptoms are not identical to the disease; rather, they are the consequences of the disease. When the patient states these consequences, s/he may be unaware of the disease itself and does not know what disorder has taken place in his/her body. And the fact is, that without knowledge of the internal disorder in the body, the patient cannot be treated well. Therefore, the therapist has to diagnose the disorders in the patient’s body from the symptoms mentioned by the patient. This diagnosis can be aided with the help of some tests. A wrong diagnosis can never lead a patient to liberation from their disease. Proper diagnosis is fundamental in regard to therapy.
Detailed information from the patient regarding his trouble, and a number of pathological tests are an appropriate way to arrive at the correct diagnosis. We shall discuss both of these points explicitly.
- Patient History- In addition to the patient’s name, age, address, educational qualifications, occupation, gender, weight, and height, noting exercises performed by the patient in the past or exercises s/he is performing at present will be useful. Obviously, past history of diseases and surgeries should also be noted.
- Present disease history- Most patients approaching Yogic therapy have tried other therapies before coming to Yoga. Some of these trials may even have prolonged their disease. It is important that the therapist knows the history of the patient’s disease. This history will include the origin of the disease and its current life span, any occasion relating to the establishment of the disease in the patient’s body, the intensity of the trouble the patient is undergoing, the remedies the patient has tried in the past, the treatment the patient is taking at present, and the opinion of doctors who have treated and are treating the patient. Detailed information regarding all these points should be noted.
- The Well-being of the patient- The daily well-being of the patient gets disturbed when s/he is afflicted with a disease. Diagnosis is aided by knowledge of the amount and intensity of the disturbance in a patient’s wellbeing that has taken place. Details about the patient’s sleep, hunger and excretory habits, information about his/her dietary habits, addictions, state of mind point towards one relative state of wellbeing.
- Other problems of the patient- The patient may be suffering from other conditions, in addition to the one s/he has approached the therapist for. It is necessary for the therapist to know all of the patient’s problems, so that the line of action for the target complaint may not be troublesome to the other problems s/he is suffering from. The patient may not feel the needor comfort to disclose all of his/her current and former medical problems. But, it is obligatory for the therapist to try to gain a full understanding of the patient’s historical and current condition.
- Nature of patient’s occupation–More than one-third of many patients’ days are spent at the workplace, and the nature of their occupation may be affecting their health and overall condition adversely. The patient may feel it unimportant to describe the nature of his occupation, but the roots of his disease may lie in it. The therapist must acquire details about occupation because sometimes a change of occupation may reduce the trouble experienced by the patient.
- Patient’s Daily Routine- The daily routine or lifestyle of the patient is as important a factor relative to overall health as is his/her occupation. Dietary patterns and habits must be recorded. Sometimes, something as simple as adjusting mealtimes works as a remedy.
- External Environment- The external environment includes familial, social, occupational, and economic contexts. These surroundings are significant for the patient because they are something s/he generally cannot escape, or may not want to escape, and must respond to. One’s surroundings generate impact on all persons. For patients in weak physical and/or emotional health this impact may be adverse. As a part of treatment, the therapist can advise a person to make changes in the surrounding environment, or teach Yogic processes that may help a person face such impacts. In some cases, the environment itself is responsible for the trouble a patient is experiencing. Some patients would be well advised to be secluded from the stressinducing environment and to seek admission in a residential therapy center.
- Other Information- Any queries or doubts about any of the above information must be settled by directly asking the patient. The information may shed light on the root causes of the patient’s disease, which the patient may not be aware of. The therapist can create awareness about it so that the patient can make suitable changes.
Necessary Pathological Tests - When a patient approaches treatment, s/he describes her/his complaints and the therapist acquires advanced relevant information by asking additional questions. However, final diagnosis is not possible unless and until the internal conditions in the patient’s body are known. Some changes in the body are recognized through testing the pulse. But learning to assess the pulse is not so easy and not possible for all. Standard pathological tests carried out in laboratories with the help of standard instruments and machines can help with this purpose. Such standardized tests are accepted the world over.There exist a wide range and variety of pathological tests too vast to cover in this book, as they are the matter of prolonged study and experience. Still some awareness of the following will be helpful to all yogic therapists.
- Physical Examination of the Patient- It is necessary that the therapist examine the patient, including taking the heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, hearing sounds generated in the stomach and back with the help of stethoscope, examining the stomach and the lower abdomen by hand, examining and observing the part of the body undergoing trouble, and examining the tongue and eyes. This examination can disclose a wide range of information about a patient’s condition and a patient’s disease.The more knowledge and experience of physiology the examiner has the greater will be the amount of useful information discerned.
- Pathological examination- The bodily matters that can be examined in a laboratory include blood, urine, stools and saliva. It helps immensely to diagnose disease by examining these matters and also provides a clearer idea of the internal functioning of the body. The therapist should decide according to the symptoms which examinations are necessary. These examinations are also useful as guides to the therapist after Yogic therapy has started and can be used to determine the further line of action according to the changes taking place in response to the therapy he is offering to the patient.
- X Ray Testing - X-Rays provide photographs of bones. They are also able to show images of kidney stones and gallstones. A Barium Meal X-Ray gives a detailed picture of the stomach and the intestines, which may provide some idea about diseases of the stomach and ulcers. An X-Ray taken after injecting a specific fluid can portray an image of the kidneys and urinary bladder. Another special injection renders an image of the vertebral disc and its position.
- Electrocardiogram- An Electrocardiograph is a machine that produces a graph of the function of the heart, from which one can detect certain heart defects. Often disorders created in other parts of the body result in the malfunctioning of the heart. This can be detected through an Electrocardiogram and treatment in that direction can be started with the help of the ECG.
- MRI Scan- A graph of the functioning of the brain can be achieved through tests like the MRI scan. It gives an idea of the functioning as well as the malfunctioning of the brain.
- CT Scan- CT Scan is a technique that can be used to produce virtual images that show what a surgeon would see during an operation. It gives a clear idea of many minor issues in the body without an invasive procedure
- Other Examinations- Other examinations include biopsies, in which a part of the body is extracted for examination. This is useful in diagnosing diseases like cancer. Even the fluid in the vertebral column can be extracted for examination. These and other new discoveries make examination and detection of human disease easier. In some cases, of course, disease may be psychosomatic. In such cases, any pathological tests carried out will render normal results, thus compelling the therapist to conclude that the cause of the disease lies in the patient’s mind.
Preparation for Yogic Therapy
The therapist is able to reach the root cause of the patient’s disease after taking into consideration all the factors discussed earlier in this chapter. The direction can be fixed only after gaining knowledge of the nature of the disease and its causes. The first and foremost issue to be determined is whether Yogic therapy is possible in this kind of disease and whether the patient will benefit from it. If treatment through Yoga is not possible the patient must be given a clear idea about this. In some cases, although Yoga would not suffice as treatment, it would work well as a supportive agent to cure the disease and to improve the patient’s resistance power. The patient must be made aware of all the facts regarding treatment and never be kept ignorant.
Once the decision to proceed further with Yogic therapy has been taken, it is necessary to prepare the patient’s mind for it. The patient may be carrying misunderstandings regarding Yoga. He may have a fear that he would not be able to perform Yogic processes, or that the processes may be troublesome for him. The therapist must eliminate misunderstanding and fear from the patient’s mind, and boost his confidence that he can be cured by Yogic therapy. The therapist should know that thorough mental preparation for Yogic therapy is the first step towards cure. If this step goes wrong, further treatment will be in vain.
After the patient is fully mentally prepared to undergo Yogic treatment, the therapist must discuss what processes he is going to perform as part of treatment, which processes he has to avoid, what rules and regimen he has to follow and lastly, how he needs to prepare himself for the purpose. This generates faith in the patient’s mind and he will then respond positively to the treatment. It also prepares the patient mentally for the performance of the Yogic processes he is being prescribed. Otherwise, it is possible that he may leave the treatment halfway through. It is also necessary to give the patient an idea of the possible duration of the treatment and the time he has to spend daily for the purpose, so that he spares enough time from his daily routine. This will also reduce the possibility of him leaving the treatment incomplete. Some patients are under the misapprehension that the therapist will prescribe the Yogic processes on a piece of paper, just as the doctor prescribes medicine, leaving him to perform them alone at home. The therapist must clarify this with the patient.
The patient must be made aware of the consequences of the Yogic processes s/he is going to perform, so that it prepares her/him mentally and physically to accept these consequences. For instance, sometimes the patient may experience loose motions on performing the cleansing process ‘Vaman’. These motions have no need of medication, as they stop once the water in the stomach comes to an end. If the patient does not have an idea of this possibility s/he may be unnecessarily concerned and immediately take medicine. Additionally, it must be clarified that Yogic effects are not instantaneous like medicines.
After making the patient thoroughly aware of all the facts, the therapist can proceed further only if the patient is ready to proceed. If the patient is not prepared for the processes, the therapist will not be able to teach them and they will not yield the expected results. This will generate poor faith in the patient’s mind, about the therapist as well as Yoga.