How Yoga is Changing Landscape of Global Traditional Medicine

How Yoga is changing the landscape of global traditional medicine

Although modern medicine has made significant progress in combatting infectious diseases, lifestyle-related illnesses continue to pose a significant threat to human health. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the long-term impact of the virus could potentially lead to chronic health conditions for many. 

Amidst mounting global healthcare challenges, there has been a growing interest among healthcare professionals in incorporating yoga into healthcare systems. Medical and yoga experts recognize the potential benefits of holistic approaches to wellness, making the integration of yoga into mainstream healthcare a promising avenue for improving patient outcomes.

Can Yoga Help Combat the Global Mental Health Crisis? The WHO Thinks So!

The World Health Organization and United Nations are actively seeking a solution to the global crisis, and yoga is emerging as a promising option in healthcare. With its low cost and correlation to positive lifestyle habits, it offers a path to improved well-being for people of all ages and stages of health. Regular yoga practice has been shown to reduce chronic mental and physical health problems, making it an attractive option to promote global well-being while reducing healthcare costs.

Yoga has numerous benefits beyond just physical poses. 

  • It is believed to decrease stress, anxiety, and depression while improving overall physical fitness. 
  • Additionally, consistent practice may improve cardiovascular health, and reduce resting glucose, and inflammation. 
  • For those suffering from lower back pain, yoga has been known to reduce discomfort. 
  • It can even improve sleep and lead to better eating habits and lifestyle choices. 
  • The elderly may benefit from improved balance and cognition, while the young can experience enhanced concentration and calm.

Also read: Mental Health Statistics 2023: 50+ Stats and Facts You Must Know

Yoga: The Past & Present

Yoga has a long history dating back over 5000 years to the Harappan civilization of the Indus Valley. It has since spread across various civilizations and adapted to different ways of life. Throughout history, yoga has evolved to meet the cultural needs and beliefs of the country and era it finds itself in.  

In recent times, yoga has gained international interest and is spreading widely due to the need for healthy and relaxing practices.

1. India

India has integrated yoga into its national government through the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH). The department conducts research into the benefits of yoga and other traditional practices, aiming to integrate them into public life for a healthier and happier population.

The International Yoga Day was proposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 and quickly drafted as a UN resolution. The proposal was supported by 177 nations and adopted on June 21, the summer solstice. The Ministry of AYUSH and India’s High Commissioner to the UK endorsed the June 2016 meeting on yoga in the UK House of Commons, along with Dr. Nagendra, Prime Minister Modi’s personal guru.

2. United Kingdom

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is offering yoga classes to staff as a way to combat rising absences due to sickness and stress caused by long hours. Reports show that 73% of NHS staff work unpaid overtime and 9 in 10 go to work when ill, leading to mental health and musculoskeletal problems as the top causes of absenteeism. The annual cost of this absenteeism is £2.4bn, affecting the quality of care.

Doctors and activists are advocating for the use of yoga in the NHS and school system, though there is no standardization for its prescription. An Early Day Motion in Parliament has gained support, prompting letters to MPs and a meeting attended by ministers and thought leaders, with written support from Queen Elizabeth II and the Indian Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy (AYUSH).

3. Sweden

Göran Boll created MediYoga, a gentle form of therapeutic yoga based on the Kundalini tradition. He partnered with Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute in 1998, leading to the program gaining popularity across the country. In 2004, Boll started a training program for healthcare workers, graduating 1,700 instructors over three years.

MediYoga Instructor programs are now offered in 20 locations across Scandinavia for health service personnel. MediYoga has been part of Sweden’s health services since 2010, with over 150 hospitals, primary care, and specialist clinics using its programs. Studies have shown MediYoga to reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and improve sleep patterns and back pain.

Also read: How is Chanting Practiced Across Different Cultures Around the World?

4. The United States of America

Yoga is becoming increasingly popular in the US, with 30% of the population using some form of complementary medicine and 9.5% specifically practicing yoga for healthcare. A 2016 Yoga Journal survey found that 36 million people practice yoga, an increase of 16 million from 2012. Yoga may have a positive impact on healthcare and costs, with a Harvard study showing that practicing yoga decreased healthcare costs by $2,434 per person annually.

In 2018, the US boasted a whopping 6,000 yoga studios, and this number is set to rise further as the practice increases in popularity. In fact, approximately 30 million Americans practice yoga, and an estimated $16 billion is spent annually on classes, clothing, equipment, and accessories. 

With more people flocking to this ancient practice to improve their health, well-being, and overall quality of life, it’s no wonder why yoga continues to captivate the hearts and minds of millions across the nation.

Sat Bir S. Khalsa, PhD, is a highly respected figure in the world of yoga research. Sat Bir S. Khalsa is a respected researcher in the field of yoga interventions for various conditions, including insomnia, PTSD, chronic stress, and anxiety disorders. 

He has conducted clinical trials in both public school and occupational settings, providing valuable insight into the effectiveness of incorporating yoga into treatment regimens. Dr. Khalsa’s contributions to the field have been instrumental in advancing our understanding of the health benefits of yoga, and he continues to be a leading voice in this important area of study.

5. Canada

In Canada, yoga has gained popularity over the years with an estimated 9% of adults practicing it in 2015, up from 5.5% in previous years. Even the country’s First Lady, who was once a yoga instructor, shares a love for the ancient practice. 

A picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a suit while performing a difficult yoga pose, the Mayurasana or peacock pose, made waves on social media. This openness to complementary medicine highlights Canada’s progressive attitude towards holistic health, showing that yoga is not just a fad, but a growing movement embraced by many.

The yoga market in Canada is set to burgeon with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.0% from 2021 to 2028. Boosted by health-conscious customers who are increasingly discovering the benefits of yoga, this growth trend shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. More and more Canadians are incorporating yoga into their daily routines, and this trend shows a major driver for the growth of the country’s yoga market.

6. Australia

Australia has embraced yoga as an essential part of its wellness culture. Privately insured individuals can take advantage of extended coverage for alternative medicinal practices like yoga. Accredited instructors are fully reimbursed, and some insurance providers even offer a discount to those who show proof of regular attendance. 

This forward-thinking approach to healthcare ensures that individuals who prioritize their yoga practice have access to affordable options.

Yoga has gained popularity among 12% of the adult population, especially in rural areas where access to primary health care is scarce. It has become a popular choice for those seeking holistic wellness and stress management.

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To Wrap Up

In conclusion, yoga is undoubtedly making a significant impact on global traditional medicine. The practice has been found to be effective in treating both physical and mental health conditions, and its popularity continues to grow worldwide. 

As more people recognize the benefits of yoga, it is becoming increasingly integrated into conventional healthcare systems. The development of yoga therapy as a complementary treatment option has given rise to numerous research studies that demonstrate its efficacy. 

Yoga’s potential to address the root cause of illness, rather than just treating the symptoms, makes it a valuable addition to modern medicine. As such, it is likely that we will see yoga continuing to shape the landscape of traditional medicine for years to come.


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