The Patient-Centred Approach of Ayurveda and Yoga in Integrative Medicine Practice
Integrative medicine harnesses the best of both conventional and alternative approaches to address the biological, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of health and illness. Integrative medicine offers a personal approach to health by combining complementary therapies that have been proven safe and effective with conventional medical methods.
Integrative Medicine is a strategic multi-disciplinary holistic approach requires contribution from each discipline to develop strategic treatment plans that are patient-centred and addresses the mind, body, and spiritual needs of the client/patient. Each patient is unique, and therefore, diagnosis and treatment should be specific to each individual’s needs.
In terms of scientific and empirical data, the most comprehensive bio typing evidence is from the Traditional Medicine system of Ayurveda. It takes into account our inherited traits such as body frame, eye colour, digestive capacity, climate likes and dislikes and emotional balance to name but a few.
Ayurveda and Yoga are sister sciences, predating all other healing systems. They arose from the same cultural and historical background and shared the same language, philosophy and methodology. Ayurveda deals more with the health of the body, while yoga deals with purifying the mind and consciousness. The paths of Yoga and Ayurveda are so closely intertwined that it is hard to imagine travelling down one without knowledge of the other. Many people only understand Yoga from the asana or physical posture and may not be fully aware of the importance of its Ayurvedic connection. Each one of us possesses a unique psychophysical constitution defined Ayurvedically according to the doshas or bioenergies of Vata (air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (water). There is no standard diet, yoga asana, meditation, exercise and massage for everyone; we must consider the needs of each body type. Ayurvedic philosophy dictates that health is not a one-size-fits-all commodity.
Therefore, using Ayurvedic biotyping will enhance the effect of the yoga asana. For example, the Ayurveda and Yoga combination can balance Vata through calming and warming poses. Pitta (fire) dosha needs calming and cooling asanas. Kaphas require stimulating and warming yogic exercises. The Ayurveda and Yoga combination prescription for the individual will includeasana, pranayama, pratyahara and meditation. Each therapy and the manner in which it is practised effects the physiology of the patient differently.
In clinical practice as an Ayurvedic practitioner, I would initially determine the patient’s constitution, doshic imbalance and disease. Thereafter, I would formulate the asana and breathing exercise prescription for the client and teach them the prescribed routine or refer them to a Yoga practitioner with the exercise prescription. Unfortunately, there are relatively few Yoga teachers who understand this methodology. The combination of Ayurveda and Yoga can yield good therapeutic outcomes in an Integrative medicine setting.