Yoga and Osteopathy have a lot more in common than many people realise.
As I type up my final treatment notes, I realise I have but a few minutes before my 6:45pm yoga class begins.
I love the feeling I get after moving my body. Yet, as I settle into another child’s pose and begin to regulate my breathing, I know what keeps me coming back is the clarity of mind and connectedness with world around me, that practicing yoga brings.
As a medical and scientific community we are advancing rapidly. The shear volume of information we are uncovering requires specialisation. To understand these complex interactions, scientists must isolate and examine the specifics of what is occurring. With such a narrow focus however, there is a tendency to lose sight of the body’s interconnectedness. The whole.
Yogic traditions date way back to ancient India in 1500 BCE and emphasise a unity of body, mind and spirit.
So why is unity important?
Everything is connected. Health is not segmented nor do body systems function in isolation. They talk to each other. Constantly feeding information back and forth in order to help the maintain balance.
How do we know this?
Examples are everywhere. People die from broken hearts, mental health effects chronic disease and having a purpose increases how long you live. Have you ever wondered why you feel so good after yoga? It’s not just only because you’ve given your muscles and connective tissue a good stretch. Studies suggest yoga also has positive effects on cognition, respiration, reduced cardiovascular risk, BMI and blood pressure. People also report it helps to support emotional health by providing an environment that that is non-competitive and encourages positive thoughts and self-acceptance. A greater sense of well being is also attributed to creating a new awareness of one’s place in the world.
Osteopathy shares this idea of unity and was bred out of frustration with the narrow view of medicine in the late 1800’s. Dr. AT Still astutely observed the self healing mechanisms evident throughout the natural world and developed principles around a system of hands on treatment to assist natures work. Like yoga, an osteopath’s aim is not to achieve a symptom-free state but rather healing or becoming whole.
Our instructor Tara stands elegantly in a tree pose with complete stillness as the rest of us sway awkwardly in a non-existent breeze.
For an osteopath, to touch, means to listen and as they sit with gentle attention, the tissues begin to offer information. Information about their own individual history, trauma and strain. Treatment involves finding a balance within the strain pattern to allow the self correcting mechanisms of the body to work unimpeded and restore function in the whole.
Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well
Both osteopathy and yoga have underpinning philosophies that highlight the importance of freedom of movement, to be crucial for the body to best utilise it’s own self healing mechanisms. If injuries, strain or stress occur, a mechanical disruption of fluid flow, balanced tension or normal mobility may result; creating an environment where pain, dysfunction and disease may prosper. It is here that osteopathic treatment can help to assist the body towards resolving these issues, not only helping to deepen practice, but also improving overall function.
Upon completion of the class, I negotiate the blustery outdoor conditions and my growling stomach to make my way to the car. Feeling very centred, I turn the key and begin to feel a dull ache through my right knee. Apparently it’s time I had a treatment.