This week I’ve been reading Yoga as Medicine: The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing by Timothy McCall.
It makes a very useful reference book because each chapter about a given condition, briefly explains the condition, offers a particular yoga practitioner’s approach to the condition, scientific evidence, strategies that practitioner uses and finally other approaches.
For example, chapter 8 about anxiety and panic attacks talks about, Rolf Sovik’s ( a yogi with a doctorate in clinical psychology researching breathing and anxiety treatment) approach in treating a patient at the Himalayan institute whose panic attacks resembled a heart attack.
The chapter offers an overview and range of panic attacks and then shows how yoga fits in, first in general, followed by scientific evidence and cases, then in terms of 12 particular poses like meditation, sandbag breathing, crocodile breathing and tree pose. The chapter ends with bullet points about other holistic approaches to asthma and panic attacks like psychotherapy, increasing omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, using aromatherapy, like lavender and German chamomile, regular aerobic exercise etc.
The combination of big picture explanation, case studies of treatment, scientific studies and specific strategies makes the book worthwhile. In terms of anxiety treatment and maybe yoga in general, I found it interesting that everyone needs to find their own “door” into treatment, through the mind or body,
“It’s worth noting that another study by Jon Kabat-Zinn found that patients whose anxiety manifested mainly in mental symptoms like constant worrying tended to find hatha yoga preferable to mindfulness meditation, whereas those whose symptoms of anxiety tended to manifest mainly in the body preferred the less body-oriented meditation. As Jon says, “people need different doors to come into the room, so to speak, of self-awareness and self knowing. Some people just can’t go through the mind door. They get the body door instantly.”
There is no front door to yoga. We all have to find our own entry. The house of yoga is a like a semi-open structure with a wrap around veranda and french doors all around, layers of openings that work differently for every practice.
May we each find our door today.
Thanking you for reading this,