Last week I participated in a workshop focused on the principles of holistic healing applied in Yoga, Ayurveda, and homeopathy. It was a very informative week, led by Dr. Mihaiela Pentiuc, a doctor Western-educated in medical rehabilitation, physical medicine and physiotherapy and now specializing in homeopathy and natural healing methodologies. She is also a nearly 20-year Yoga practitioner and longtime Agama teacher.
My main impetus for taking the course is that as I move into my 30s, I’m beginning to realize my health is not something I can take for granted and is something that needs regular awareness applied to. There is also the practical matter of being a vagabond with poor health insurance coverage and needing to avoid expensive treatments and hospital stays however possible!
After completing the workshop, my view on what it means to be healthy has shifted significantly. Like many people, I viewed health as simply the state of the physical body- if there are no symptoms or issues, one can be deemed healthy. From a yogic standpoint, physical health is just one small piece of a much larger pie. Homeopathy, and more specifically yoga, looks at a much wider view of the body: including our energetic, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects. Someone very healthy physically may be dealing with large emotional trauma or have a serious mental condition. Such traumas and conditions often do manifest in the physical body, but not always. Another shift is the understanding that I completely own my own health. Poor health manifests from blocked emotions, negative thinking, poor diet, etc., NOT just from the environment and outside. Why does the same cold virus make some of sick and not others?
There were also simple shifts around approaching suppressive therapies. For example, what do many of us do when we have a fever? We try to suppress it with various chemicals. When we do this, we are actually preventing our body from its natural means of healing itself. Of course, in serious conditions of very high fever or the young or old, suppression can save lives. But for most of us such suppression is not necessary. As a Western-educated doctor, Mihaiela is not opposed to conventional treatments and would often suggest cases where going to the hospital or seeing a doctor is the best option. What she passionately suggests is that there is a balance to be struck between natural and conventional methods that can provide the best outcome. The World Health Organization’s definition of health is:
Health is a complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity
They’ve gone on to show that under this definition, a very small percentage of the world population is actually healthy. Are you healthy?
Throughout the week we explored a wide-range of topics including lifestyle, diet, spiritual practices, fasting, therapies and purifications. We experimented with yoga asanas for healing, Qi Gong, basic homeopathic remedies, hypnosis, emotional and sexual healing and held a very constructive conversation on diagnosis, treatment and healing of various kinds. I’m by no means a healer now, but think this subtle shift in perception of health and application of alternative therapies can help both myself and those I love remain healthier in the future!