Mind (psyche) and body (soma) psychosomatic disorders are those which involves both mind and body. Some physical diseases are thought to be particularly prone to be made worse by mental factors such as stress and anxiety. Your current mental state can affect how bad a physical disease is at any given time.
What are Psycho-somatic disorders?
To an extent, most diseases are psychosomatic – involving both mind and body.
Some physical diseases are thought to be particularly prone to be made worse by mental factors such as stress and anxiety. For example, psoriasis, eczema, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure and heart disease. It is thought that the actual physical part of the illness (the extent of a rash, the level of the blood pressure, etc.) can be affected by mental factors. This is difficult to prove. However, many people with these and other physical diseases say that their current mental state can affect how bad their physical disease is at any given time.
The term psychosomatic disorder is also used when mental factors cause physical symptoms but where there is no physical disease. For example, a chest pain may be caused by stress and no physical disease can be found. It is well known that the mind can cause physical symptoms. For example, when we are afraid or anxious we may develop:
Faster heart rate, Heart palpitations, Nausea, Shaking, Sweating, and Chest pain, Headaches, Fast breathing
These physical symptoms are due to increased activity of nervous impulses sent from the brain to various parts of the body and to the release of adrenaline (epinephrine) into the bloodstream when we are anxious.
Yoga as therapy with psychosomatic disorders has been practiced for many centuries in India, and only recently has become utilized for this purpose in other countries. The yoga system evolved as a ‘system of liberation’ to allow man to discriminate between his ego-self and pure consciousness, and as such, its medical benefits are really ‘side-effects’.
Integral yoga practice, however, with which many other self-regulatory somatopsychic approaches have much in common, consists of a holistic technology which functions to restore optimal homeostasis by a variety of special techniques not found in other approaches. Clinical observations of psychosomatic patients indicate that their distorted somatopsychic functioning necessitates their practice of yoga or yoga-like therapy.
A review of the clinical evidence available indicates that yoga practice has proven most effective with a wide range of psychosomatic and psychiatric disorders. The effectiveness of yoga can be partially understood in terms of neurophysiological theory.
“During the last 50 years or so that modern scientists have sought to confirm these claims of yogis by impartial observations, experimentation and verification on a scientific basis. Its acceptance and verification by the scientific world in India and abroad has added to its credence. The magic and mythical image of yoga is fast reverting to its true form.”[i]
Experiments verify yogic control over body systems
The experiments conducted on yogis by the doctors of the Physiology Department of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, clearly show the ability of yogis to control the internal systems of the body. For example, they have demonstrated reduction in the heart, breathing and metabolic rates. Experiments also show that during meditation, brain waves differ from those of other conscious states.
Studies of yoga practices and yoga therapy on a scientific basis in the treatment of illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, and nervous dyspepsia, have been conducted by Dr. Udupa, Professor of Surgery and Director of the Institute of Medicine of Banaras Hindu University. The successful application of shavasana as a therapeutic measure in cases of high blood pressure and heart disorders by Dr. K. K. Datey, an eminent cardiologist of Bombay, has not only shown voluntary control over the complex internal mechanisms of the body through yoga practices, but has proved the efficacy of this therapy in treatment of these diseases.
It is now an accepted fact that yoga asanas tune up the body and mind thus, we find that yoga can cure diseases as well as prevent them.
Body and Mind Interrelationship
Understanding from scientific evidence that Yogis have greater control over bodily functions as explained above and having a better understanding of psycho-somatic disorders (The majority of which are physical illnesses caused by mental disturbances) then logical to draw the conclusion that Yoga is particularly beneficial in the treatment of psycho-somatic disorders.
Having greater control over ones senses allows the Yogi the ability to better understand the disturbances which are causing physical illness. Better understanding and control also provides the Yogi with the opportunity to regulate the physical conditions by regulating the specific mental disturbances by using specific yoga asana.