Yoga: a ray of hope

No matter how bleak the outlook, yoga can transform the lives of those with disabilities

Yoga is very useful for those who are suffering from disability of any kind because yoga has a great impact on the physical, mental and emotional aspects of life.

Yoga as therapy

Yoga therapy is gaining momentum as an effective therapeutic tool for many physical, psychological and mental disorders. Regular practice of
yogasanas, pranayamas and meditation can be helpful in creating balance in the nervous and endocrine [the system of glands that secrete hormones directly into the blood stream such as pituitary or thyroid glands] systems, and ultimately it has great influence on almost all the organs of the body. In fact, it is a curative as well as preventive therapy. On the one hand, it cures some deadly diseases and on the other, it creates so much energy in man that he gets a protective shield, which keeps diseases in abeyance.

Cure for physical illnesses

Yoga is helpful in all-round development of man's personality. It cures physical, mental and emotional ailments. It does not mean that we should completely discard allopathic, ayurvedic, unani, homeopathic and other systems of treatment. They have their own importance. Suppose a part of the body has stopped functioning completely or developed some serious defect, we should consult the specialist immediately for treatment. If the treatment of that part of the body is not feasible, we should take the shelter of yoga.

Generally, with physical exercises, yogasanas, and pranayamas, the blocked blood circulation starts functioning, which gives strength to the muscles of the body. As a result, the patient gains control over his nervous system.

The disabled should be taught yogasanas according to the disorders in their bodies. Regular practice of yogasanas will heal them. But they should take care of three things—the proper method of yogasanas, the observance of time for each asana and concentration of the mind. Above all, they should practise yoga with firm belief in God and His ways.

Polio and yoga therapy

Polio is considered to be a very complex disease but it can be cured by regular practice of yoga. The results of the cure of this malady depend upon the belief and regularity of the patient. In such cases, the guidance of the trained, able and experienced yoga teachers is very essential.
Besides it, the patient should be regular in practising yogasanas and taking exercises. Irregular and sporadic practice of yoga would not yield desired results, and the patient may take a very long time for his cure or he may not be cured.

After the polio attack, many survivors experience the onset of weaknesses and fatigue. If they take a mild exercise, they can improve muscular strength.

Hatha Yoga is very beneficial for such people, but its learning requires the guidance of the trained yoga teachers. Moreover, it should be practised regularly.

Mentally and emotionally disabled children/persons and yoga

Today the whole world is facing a great problem of the ever-increasing number of mentally and emotionally disabled children/persons. Most of these are oblivious of even themselves, and they cannot take care of themselves. Their miserable condition has perturbed their parents/guardians, who cannot leave them alone.

It cannot be denied that medical science has made great advances in the treatment of these children, yet the situation is deplorable. There is a ray of hope in yoga. Yoga science is not only useful for the body but also for mental health. Pranayamas like Anulom-Vilom, Bhramri, Udgeeth and Yog Nidra calm the nerves and the mind. They improve mental health and capabilities of such persons. Earnest efforts should be made to enable them to lead peaceful and purposeful life.

Yoga helps the disabled gain self-confidence in life. I remember an incident that took place a few years back. While I was teaching BA 1st year class, a student entered the classroom, walking slowly on his crutches. He took his seat on the front bench. I took it casually. But I noticed the feelings of deep pain and anguish on his face. He looked gloomy. It took me no time to realize his mental state. I talked to him and patted on his back. I advised him to adopt yoga as his way of life. He felt convinced and started practising yoga. There came a great change in him. A few days later I found him full of zeal and enthusiasm. There was always a smile on his face. He gained self-confidence. He had now a goal before him. He developed his dormant capabilities. I found him participating in debates. He studied for three years in the college and got his graduate degree. His father had a very good business. So, instead of going in for a job, he joined his father’s business. Today, he is a successful businessman.

Thus, it is evident that yoga removes gloominess, desperation, helplessness and hopelessness, and it creates self-confidence. Therefore, the disabled should make yoga an integral part of their life.

Music therapy

Yoga accompanied by music works wonders. Music is the device which lends concentration to the mind, and also develops the sense of hearing. Music is created by singing devotional songs, clapping and the motion of the feet in ecstasy. Musical instruments are used to provide rhythm, which is very essential to make the songs melodious.

Studies conducted on the people suffering from mental illnesses have revealed that music soothes them, and has a calming effect on their nerves. Moreover, the group music therapy has a good effect on those suffering from severe mental illnesses.

Devotional songs and mental illness

Devotional songs are related to the feelings and emotions of heart. They are the medium of the outlet of personal feelings also. It hardly matters whether the singer has a melodious voice. These songs soothe the mind and relieve it from unnecessary tension. So, mental health recovery of able-bodied as well as disabled persons is possible through the music of devotional songs.

Mentally retarded children and people who have lost their mental equilibrium for one reason or another, are human beings, and they have the right to live a dignified life. We should provide them succour and make our efforts to make them self-reliant.

Yogarishi Swami Ramdev has devoted his life to popularize Patanjali’s Yoga. His main focus is on making the people of India as well as the whole world adopt yoga as their lifestyle to keep themselves physically and mentally fit. His approach to treating ailments and disorders is pragmatic. The persons working for the wellbeing of the disabled should study the works by Swamiji, and seek guidance from Patanjali Yogapeeth, Haridwar, for teaching yoga to the disabled.

Conclusion

Yoga is a complete science. It makes the body healthy and provides mental peace which leads to spirituality. It is very useful for the disabled as they can get relief from physical ailments. The faculties of the mentally retarded children can develop by practising yoga. Therefore, the disabled should practise yoga regularly.

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Professor I J Bharti has post-graguate degrees in English and Hindi from Delhi University. He has learnt Urdu, Punjabi, Sanskrit and French. He retired from the post-graduate department of Engligh, Dyal Singh College, Karnal, Haryana in 1999. Touched by the plight of the disabled, especially blind, he formed the National Handicapped Welfare Council, Haryana in 1992, which he has been leading ever since.

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