Yogic definitions of Health

Upanishads: first effects of yoga are lightness of body, health, desireless of mind, clearness of complexion, a beautiful voice, agreeable odour and scantiness of excretions

Hatha Yoga Pradipika: slimness of body, lustre on face, clarity of voice, brightness of eyes, freedom from disease, control over seminal ejaculation, stimulation of gastric heat and purification of subtle energy channels

Patanjali: perfection of body including beauty, gracefulness, strength, adamantine hardness. Deep concentration results in mastery of digestive energy, leading to radiant effulgence

Causes and Prevention of Disease

  • There is a saying in Sanskrit “You are what you think
  • Bad thought patterns are the primary cause of generation disease of the body
  • If this can be eradicated at its root then all diseases will be destroyed
  • Everyone’s true and natural state is that of bliss, but ignorance of this can lead to wrong actions (wrong diet and other unhealthy habits), which breed secondary diseases
  • When the mind is purified, prana circulates freely throughout the body, food is digested properly and no disease will arise The following should be avoided: –
    1. Eating unwholesome food
    2. Living in unhealthy places
    3. Doing things at unseasonable hours 4. Associating with bad company 5. Longing after improper things 6. Bad desires and thoughts


  • Stress is something that makes us feel threatened or upsets our balance in some way leading to the fight or flight response in the body
  • Stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol are released, resulting in changes including tightening of muscles, narrowing of arteries, increased BP and fast shallow breathing (which in turn means less oxygen supply to body)
  • As maximum energy is diverted into fight or flight it must be diverted away from other ‘non-essential’ processes or body systems; digestion, immune system and reproduction are all supressed during stress
  • Stress protects us and can save our life, but chronic stress is damaging to health Symptoms
  1. Cognitive – memory, concentration, poor judgement, negativity, anxious, racing thoughts, constant worrying
  2. Emotional – mood swings, irritability / short temper, agitation, inability to relax, sense of loneliness or isolation, depression, unhappiness
  3. Physical Symptoms – aches and pains, digestive symptoms, dizziness, nausea, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, frequent colds or infections
  4. Behavioural – changes in appetite, sleeping more or less, isolating from others, procrastinating, neglecting responsibilities, substances use, habits e.g. nail biting, pacing, hair pulling


  • Yoga sees the mind and body as one, not separate entities as in Western medicine
  • It recognises that the mind is very difficult to control initially, so we start with training the body, which has a knock-on positive effect on the mind
  • “We can gain control over the mind, by working on the body”
  • Each posture creates a particular mental state and in turn, a particular feeling
  • Asana, pranayama, kriyas, mudras, bandhas etc. ALL create different mental states
  • The positive mental states created by yoga practices are associated with the 4 Bhavas (Dharma, Jnana, Vairagya, Aishwarya)
  • Kleshas (ignorance, ego, attachment, aversion, fear of death) and Antarayas (9 obstacles) are the main causes of negative states and negative Bhavas, which produce negative feelings (anger, fear, guilt, jealousy, egoism etc.)
  • These eventually cause stress related disease and psychosomatic disorders (auto- immune disorders, diabetes, CVD, high BP, asthma, depression etc.)