Alternative Medicine

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Alternative Medicine

Yoga has always been applied as a form of alternative medicine especially in the Western and Asian cultures. In fact, the popularity of the procedure has been attributed to the benefits that it offers physically, mentally, and emotionally. Yoga has been implemented across different contexts for more than 5000 years despite originating from the religious practices of the Buddhists. Nonetheless, the practice has been subject to numerous criticisms especially from academic circles with some terming it as pseudoscience and an activity exploited for profitable means. Present studies encompassing the subject have undeniably argued for yoga as an alternative medicine able to offer health benefits for persons suffering from a plethora of issues.

The history of yoga can be traced back to 3000 B. C. Accordingly, “the oldest scripture that refers to yoga in its content is Rig-Veda” (Muni 20). At the time, the Rig-Veda was used as a religious canon since it was a collection of devout hymns and mantras with spiritual connotations and implications. Consequently, knowledge regarding yoga was conventionally distributed by word of mouth and eventually became written in Sanskrit as the years passed (Muni 20). Therefore, the Vedic scriptures would assume a role in establishing its significance via the presentation of philosophic elements comprising the practice along with the hymns, liturgies, and mantras present in the Rig-Veda (Muni 21). With the establishment of the Brahmana as the formal priesthood in India, the Vedic scriptures and the concept of yoga became essential spiritual measures.

Despite its spiritual importance, yoga has become widely renowned as a form of alternative medicine especially in the contemporary context. This popularity is due to the benefits that it provides physically, mentally, and emotionally. In a review of research studies comparing exercise to yoga, it was discovered that yoga approaches were identical or superior except in situations involving physical fitness. The conclusion was based on the extent to which the practice in question has become known for its role in the distribution of mental and physical health. In fact, studies assert, “certain yoga techniques may improve physical and mental health through down-regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic nervous system,” which are triggered as responses towards external or internal stressors (Ross and Thomas 3). Yoga evidently functions as alternative medicine in consideration of the evidence above.

Yoga has been subjected to criticism from certain academic circles. As a practice that was embedded religiously in Indian culture, yoga has often been characterized as pseudoscience. In fact, Alter (33) notes that the accusations established against the respective practice have been based on the way religion has consistently been fouled with ritualism, faith, philosophy, and intellectually which are not scientific. With the overwhelming amount of studies supporting the positive implications of yoga on the human body, perspectives on it as a pseudoscience are presently uncommon or based on biased rationale. Accordingly, yoga practices have been linked to relief from signs associated with severe illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, schizophrenia, kidney disease, and menopause (Ross and Thomas 5). However, little is known about the factors that differentiate yoga from other modes of treatment.

Yoga has been attributed to beneficial implications associated with human health. In comparison to exercise, yoga has emerged superior or identical to the respective intervention as an outcome of its positive effects on physical and mental health. In addition to this, yoga has been linked to the alleviation of symptoms present in diabetes, menopause, multiple sclerosis, kidney disease, and schizophrenia. However, the practice has been described as a pseudoscience arguably due to its association with the Buddhist dogma. Interestingly though, such claims have been repudiated based on the effects that yoga has unmistakably applied in the realm of human health.

Works Cited

Alter, Joseph S. Yoga in Modern India: The Body between Science and Philosophy. Princeton University Press, 2010.

Muni, Rajarshi. Yoga: The Ultimate Spiritual Path. Llewellyn Publications, 2008.

Ross, Alyson, and Sue Thomas. “The Health Benefits of Yoga and Exercise: A Review of Comparison Studies.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 16, no. 1, 2010, pp. 3-12.

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