This morning, while playing with blocks, drinking coffee and enjoying cuddles from my feeling better little girl(hurray), I came across this article which discusses studies that show yoga has little to no impact on peoples’ health, in particular those who might be very unwell, such as cancer and diabetes patients. I’m a bit irate, because I think Brian Palmer misses a pretty big point. Any yoga practitioner with a foundation of common sense would never presume to tell you that yoga is going to cure cancer, or permanently alleviate asthma.
Yoga is more than a class you attend once or twice a week, it is a lifestyle. Deciding to start yoga once your back is up against the wall health-wise is still better than nothing, but I’d prefer we took a long term view and pondered the preventative approach. Besides, what quality of life do you want right now, in this moment? Whether you’re unwell or fit as a fiddle yoga adds a certain joie de vivre.
When I’m with a group of dedicated practicing yogis it’s obvious. They have a glow, a presence, that regular asana, relaxation, breath work and meditation supports. Further to these tangible practices that you learn in the studio and take to your home practice, there are Patangali’s other limbs of yoga, which are all different topics in themselves, that you bring to your life.
We, as a society, are becoming increasingly fat and stressed. We are not active enough and our children are currently slated to have lower life expectancies than us. How about if less of us were obese and better able to not only cope with stress, but more tuned into when something just wasn’t right for us to begin with? What if we approached each day, each other and our planet from a space of compassion and thoughtfulness not only for ourselves but for future generations? This unending quest for the magic potion to save us from our toxic lifestyles wouldn’t be necessary.
Encompassing yogic principles into life’s trajectory supports health. We are all going to have illness and struggles at some stage in our lives, and we’re all going to die. Mr. Palmer’s article is a symptom of the typical disempowered, and at the risk of sounding trite, consumeristic viewpoint. We don’t want to take responsibility for what got us in our health conundrum in the first place. We want something outside of us to fix it. Immediately and easily. But that’s not how life, or anything for that matter, works. It’s about time, effort and commitment, and saying yes to a yoga class, a run, or healthy meal, when it would be easier to say no. Deciding that you enjoy feeling and being healthy and that you’re willing to put in the work to get and stay there.
Yoga is an interesting paradox of taking control, through focus, right now, in this moment while at the same time accepting it for whatever it is. I believe we would all get a lot more serious about our health if someone were to sit down with us and tell us what we would die from at some mystery date in the future. Complications from diabetes because we refused to give up junk food, cancer from pollutants in our environment or smoking, a heart attack from lack of exercise and too much stress at work.
So get on the mat, at the very least, get off your tushie, breathe, live, move and do something right now! Before the doctor has to have the “talk” with you. Our bodies were beautifully designed to be in motion, and through movement, the positive mindset and healthy body flourishes. That to me, is the magic elixir that no doctor on earth can prescribe.