Arthritis is one of the most common chronic diseases which affect many people around the world. The term arthritis is a general term which describes any inflammation in synovial joints accompanied by severe pain & in some cases immobility. There have been many researches around arthritis, yet its real cause is not clear to the scientists, hence there is not an effective treatment which can cure it. Most of the doctors prescribe painkillers or anti-inflammatory pills which cover the problem instead of curing it. According to Yoga and Ayurveda arthritis is not a disease by itself but an accumulation of toxins and malfunction of prana
Yoga and Ayurveda – the sister sciences
There is an ancient and deep connection between Yoga and Ayurveda. Both sciences began as an oral tradition that was passed down through generations before finally being written in books. They developed together and they have influenced each other within the years. In India Yoga & Ayurveda are considered as remarkable holistic systems that take into consideration all aspects of health and well-being – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Both sciences hold the same view that humans are miniatures of nature. This means that principles that are present in Universe are also present in us. Both these sciences have eight branches, the ‘eightfold’ paths of Ashtanga Yoga and Ashtanga Ayurveda. That is why Yoga and Ayurveda are also known as “sister sciences”. The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj”, which means union and the word Ayurveda is composed of two syllables i.e., Ayur which means life and Veda which means knowledge; thus Ayurveda means the knowledge of life or the science of life.
Arthritis from Ayurveda point of view
Ayurveda holds the view that all the activities of the universe are mainly governed by moon and rain, sun and wind. These functions keep the balance in nature. The same functions take place in the human body due to their minute energies, which are known as doshas. The literary meaning of the word dosha is that which causes decay, destruction or vitiates others when in aggravated condition. However, in the case of the three doshas when they are in balance they maintain health and when they get disturbed they cause disease. When the three dosha become imbalanced, Ayurveda suggests specific lifestyle and nutritional guidelines which will assist the individual in balancing the dosha that has been disturbed.
The Ayurvedic Rishis included arthritis in many of the nervous system disorders. Basically according to Ayurveda arthritis is primarily a vata (air) dosha disorder which is due to accumulation of toxins in the joints and lack of digestion fire (indigestion). Poor eating habits and weak digestion allow impurities – toxins to accumulate, to circulate and to build up in the joints. This inhibits joint function, mobility and comfort. So, the way to treat arthritis is to stimulate the digestive fire and to vanish the toxins from the body.
Ayurveda suggests two general rules to enhance the digestive fire and to reduce the toxins. Firstly, according to Ayurveda we should cook the food with immune-enhancing spices such as cumin, fennel, coriander, turmeric, ginger and black pepper and secondly we should avoid the factors that cause toxins such as leftovers, processed foods, ice-cold foods and drinks, and fried foods.
- In case of Arthritis you should drink one big glass of warm water with lemon juice day and night
- Boil five peppercorns with ten basil leaves and drink every morning for two weeks
- Apply cinnamon paste on your joints
Arthritis from Hatha Yoga perspective
Hatha yoga is the science of body purification. The main objective of Hatha Yoga is to create an absolute balance between all the activities of body and mind. To achieve this balance Hatha Yoga uses certain techniques, that is Shatkarma (body cleansing techniques), Asana (body postures), Pranayama (expansion of breath), Dharana (concentration techniques) and Meditation. The bija (seed) mantra ‘Ha’ stands for sun, which is related to the right side of the body (pingala nadi), while the bija mantra ‘Tha’ stands for moon, which is related to the left side of the body (ida nadi). Therefore the concept of Hatha Yoga is to bring harmony between these forces. The ultimate goal of Hatha Yoga is Raja Yoga (The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali).
According to Hatha Yoga the root cause of any disease is ignoring the initial signs of imbalances at the mental and pranic level. Our body communicates these imbalances but due to our improper lifestyle we are not aware of these imbalances and disease manifests. In the science of yoga arthritis is a symptom of metabolic malfunction and insufficient circulation of energy or blockage of energy in the joints. In other terms acidic wastes and toxins (mostly from indigested food), accumulate in the joint fluid, irritate the sensitive nerve fibers in the joint by causing pain and stiffness. This is how arthritis starts. In this case, what we have to do is to clean the body from these impurities by triggering the digestive fire and by inducing the motion in the joints, in order to have again movable and flexible joints.
Suggested Hatha Yoga techniques:
- Shatkarma (cleansing techniques) for arthritis:
2. Asana (body postures)
Pawanmuktasana (pict1), Bhujangasana (pict2), Shashankasana (pict3), Urdhva Hasta Uttanasana (pict4), Trikonasana (pict5), Vakrasana (pict6) Shavasana
3. Pranayama (expansion of breath):
Please note that all the above suggested treatments of Yoga and Ayurveda do not replace any medical treatment that your doctor has suggested you. In the beginning they should be practiced under the guidance of an expert yoga teacher or ayurvedic doctor.