Good Essay On Yoga: An Alternative Medicine

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Yoga, Medicine, Body, Exercise, Health, Practice, Treatment, Weil

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/10/14

In today’s world, with the advancements in the pharmaceutical industry, most every illness and condition has a treatment. As I delve further into my future in a career in medicine, I learn more and more about the pharmaceutical treatments. Especially here in the Western Hemisphere, the general public even hears about these treatments every day through TV commercials and magazine ads. But how often do we hear about alternative treatments like yoga, herbal supplements, and essential oils? These treatments have much greater respect in the Eastern Hemisphere where medicine men are the doctors for their communities. However, these trends have started to reach our shores and have gained popularity amongst the small groups of organic, natural-based products gurus. It is estimated that 15 million American adults hve used yoga at least once in their lifetime and that 90% of those individuals have found yoga to be very or somewhat helpful (Weil). We are all familiar with these individuals who rely on treatments that have not be approved by the FDA. However, just because these treatments have not yet been accepted by the FDA does not mean they are not worthy of trying. As alternative medicine gains more popularity here in the West, the governing medical bodies might look into conducting more experiments on their effectiveness and giving them their seal of approval.
With that being said, I myself have often been skeptical of alternative medicine practices such as yoga. Since I can remember, I have wanted to pursue a career in medicine and with that I have learned how drugs and chemical compounds can help alleviate and cure different illnesses. Nevertheless, I have also been interested in such practices that would limit the amount of chemicals we put into our bodies and eliminate the side effects we would feel if taking the pharmaceutical recommendation. I think at first, the practice of alternative medicines would do little to alleviate the problem. As in the case of yoga, I think the first few sessions would be boring and not yield the instant gratification I would want. I think establishing a strong yoga routine and seeing the desired results would take practice and willpower to stick with the program. As I attend more and more classes, I would get better at the breathing techniques and focusing my mind on the class. I don’t believe that one should strictly believe in one side or the other, but that we should try both and see what works for different individual persons; this practice might even include using both to some degree.
Yoga is an ancient philosophy that is said to have originated in India approximately 5,000 years ago (Weil). The term comes from the Sanskrit word yuj that means to unit or join. This idea of unity means to unite the body, spirit, and mind in order to achieve balance and harmony in life – to allow one’s life to meet its fullest potential. The practice of yoga was performed by yogis (yoga practitioners) before it was ever written. The yogis passed down the discipline to their students and from there many different schools of yoga were formed. The first written record of yoga is believed to by Patanjali who lived between 2,000 and 2,500 years ago. It is said that he created and wrote down the Yoga Sutras, the principles, philosophies, and practices of yoga that we know and practice today (Weil).
A typical yoga session here in the states is usually held in a local YMCA, health clubs, or yoga studios (Ehrlich). The sessions can last anywhere between 45 and 90 minutes, depending on the type of yoga. Typically all the sessions start with warmup stretching, moving on to the postures, and ending with deep relaxation and meditation (Ehrlich). Participants will utilize mats, towels, blankets, blocks and wedges, and straps during the poses in order for the body to better support itself as the poses become more complex (Weil).
Different types of schools of yoga exist allowing yoga enthusiasts to explore the practice. Hatha yoga is the most popular type that is practiced in the US (Weil). Hatha yoga is a gentle and slow practice that emphasizes holding the pose and focusing on breathing. This is a good yoga for a beginner to introduce him to the Eastern practice. Another type is Iyengar yoga, and it is very similar to Hatha yoga but a little more demanding. It makes participants hold the poses longer (Weil). Requiring yet more practice is Bikram yoga, also called Hot Yoga (Weil). Participants practice yoga in a room that is heated to approximately 105 degree Fahrenheit. Individuals with certain medical conditions should reconsider this yoga due to its risk of dehydration (Weil).
Those feelings and preconceived notions I stated earlier were my exact thoughts when I first began to attend yoga classes. In high school, I developed anxiety due to my heavy course load and demanding classes. In college, it did not become any better and my doctor prescribed me a medication. Additionally, I began to attend yoga classes offered at the school’s gym. I was skeptical at first and found it very hard to focus my energy and thoughts on the poses during the class. Instead, I would worry about the homework and studying I wasn’t doing at that time, the root of my anxiety. However, as I attended more classes, I learned how to leave my worries at the door and focus on myself, my body, and my breathing, as the instructor coached us through the different poses. Eventually, my yoga classes became a sanctuary for me, where I could focus on me and not school and enjoy an hour of relaxation. At the end of the session I would feel renewed and relaxed. As I began to notice these changes, I also began to experience less anxiety. I still experienced some generalized anxiety while on medication, but with yoga, my anxiety was under control.
I consider yoga to be both an alternative and complementary medicine, depending on the person utilizing the practice. For some, the introduction of yoga into their life would be enough to alleviate their health conditions, making it an alternative medicine; yoga has become an alternative to Western medicine. Yoga is an alternative medicine because it uses the body and its natural abilities to treat illnesses and increase someone’s wellness. Some health care professionals think that yoga causes the body to release endorphins that allow the body to feel good (Ehrlich). However, for some like myself, yoga is a complementary medicine that complements the effects of pharmaceuticals and together they yield the desired health status. Taking both a medication and participating in yoga allowed me to take control of my life and leave the anxiety behind so I might better focus on school. I would also consider yoga to be a holistic art, as it unites the body and mind as previously stated. You use your body to hold the poses, your mind to focus on the poses, and your spirit to center yourself to enjoy the pose. During my yoga sessions, I feel like my body and mind are one and are working together to calm my irrational thoughts and suppress my physiological manifestations of stress.
I would most definitely recommend others to try yoga before taking medication. Medications have a tendency to cause unwanted side effects. However, yoga produces no adverse effects, it only requires time. If this shouldn’t work, an individual should then consult a medical professional for additional help. Yoga has been proved to lower heart rate and blood pressure, increase muscle relaxation, and increase breathing capacity (Ehrlich). Additionally, yoga improves fitness by promoting relaxation and self-confidence, coordination, posture, flexibility, concentration, and range of motion and reducing stress and anxiety (Ehrlich). In today’s bustling world, these are common problems, specifically stress and anxiety. As we complete the many demands that are asked of us, we can become bogged down with stress. Not only should we eliminate stress as it can have negative consequences on our health, but we also deserve an hour of relaxation. Yoga allows us to care for our bodies and minds while rewarding ourselves for our hard work.
Yoga can be practiced among all age groups, as we are all in need of physical exercise. During my time working at an assisted living home, I witness some of my older residents doing chair yoga. For the elderly population, this is a great way to keep them entertained and keep their muscles and joints moving. Life spent in a long-term care facility can be depressing at times, especially if there is no family to visit. This activity gathers the elderly together to encourage socialization, lets them exercise to improve their quality of life, and lets their bodies release endorphins to increase their mood. The elderly residents that I talked with seemed to very much enjoy the activity.
Not only have I experienced the benefits of yoga for myself, I have also recognized them in others. With all of the disclaimers of pharmaceutical agents, I think we need to be more aware of the substances we put into our body. Alternative and complementary medicine gives us a chance to alleviate our symptoms and treat our illnesses naturally before the ingestion of chemicals. There are no side effects to practices such as yoga and exercising. The only consequences are positive results. We need to tap in to this knowledge and become more aware of what we can do to maintain our health and wellness.


Ehrlich, S. (2013, March 17). Yoga. Retrieved January 26, 2015, from
Weil, R. (2014, January 23). Yoga. Retrieved January 26, 2015, from

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