There is a general misconception that “YOGA” stands for “PHYSICAL CULTURE”; it means 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 very well that it is not a body, it is not a mind, it is not a soul that we are training, ” it is a man and 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 dependant on each other that any disturbance in one part affects 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 percent of the patients were sick with one disease usually called “PSYCHONEUROSIS” – now known as “PSYCHOSOMATIC ILLNESS”.
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 get up 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, “Patel, 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 and on a sudden visit. He hesitated but made it. When we reached there we found the place was kept perfectly in order. I said him “see how nicely the place is maintained.You need not send your nephew in future to set it in order before you come here”. And he said, “Oh, the caretaker was specially interviewed by me and recommended by my in-laws but you know how much he cost me”.
People like Patel invariably get a psychosomatic illness, and when they get it they are invalid for rest of their lives.You can do nothing about it.
Then there are people who keep on being too much 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? Where does she go? How does she manage so much of fashionable clothes or makeup? What is going to happen to this girl? Who will marry her so on?
And lastly, there are people who are entrapped in some kind of a mess – financial loss, domestic troubles, loss of some kith and kins.
How do this “cares, worrying or troubles” bring illness? We normally suppose that “thinking is a process taking place in the brain only”. But it is not true, thinking involves the entire body in a number of nerve impulses centering in the brain. Particularly it is true when an emotion colors our thinking.
As the Psychologist William James defines, “Emotion is the state of mind that manifests itself by 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 the esophagus – causing difficulty to swallow, lower esophagus causing intolerable pain like an ulcer, sometimes muscle spasm can occur in any part of the colon and sometimes intestinal tract or muscle of blood vessels respond to emotional stimuli which may even cause skin diseases. Skin reacts to anxiety, worry or disgust, and serum is actually squeezed out through the wall of the blood vessel and into the skin.