Yoga is the original & comprehensive wellbeing and healing modality.

By Dr. Ganesh Mohan

An effective holistic wellbeing and therapeutic approach should cover important domains of wellbeing, as far as reasonably possible. The scope of coverage should not be limited to just a few aspects of the person e.g., only movement or only nutrition or only cognition. Further, such comprehensive modeling should ideally be intrinsic to the development of the system—it should not be patched together from various ideas.

Yoga fulfils all these conditions wonderfully!

The classical yoga model of Patanjali presents eight limbs. With just that presentation, yoga is already one of the most holistic models of wellbeing available.

Consider how the limbs of yoga map across domains of our life:

  • Yama:  Behavior, ethics, boundaries.
  • Niyama: Will, actions, speech, intentions, emotion.
  • Asana: Body movement & feeling.
  • Pranayama: Breathing, interoception, physiological influences.
  • Pratyahara: Managing the senses.
  • Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi: Mindfulness, absorption.

And there is more: the Yoga Sutra itself contains more models pertaining specifically to cognition, emotion, and others. Ayurveda complements this with further models of various physical, physiological, and psychological qualities. For instance, the Yoga Sutra has these further frameworks:

  • Yoga Sutra I.20: Long term pathway of change.
  • Vtti-Samskara: Conscious and unconscious, habits and triggers.
  • Yoga Sutra I.5‑11: Cognitive categories & accuracy
  • Yoga Sutra I.33: “Prosocial” and positive thoughts and feelings.
  • Kleśa: Managing negative feelings and thoughts.
  • Antarāya: Practice barriers and how to address them.

Altogether, you can easily see how wide and comprehensive the coverage of classical yoga is! With a history of application for thousands of years, yoga is both insightful and reliable. Yoga as prevention and therapy offers us an extraordinary and effective pathway to lifelong wellbeing and healing.