Ayurveda, Yoga and meditation

Posted by Elizabeth Forst in Life After Paralysis on September 06, 2016

My background as a physical therapist was based in Western medicine as I received my doctoral degree in physical therapy at Regis University in Denver Colorado in 2007. Three years of intense didactic knowledge included four clinical rotations at various types of facilities including a hospital setting, a workers compensation rehab facility and various outpatient orthopedic clinics across the US. Even with a well balanced Western based education system, I yearned for understanding the human body and its plights from a deeper, more holistic centered place. And thus began my love affair with holistic health care and trying to discover how to heal others and myself while looking at the whole system rather than observing only the parts.

Certainly there is power in understanding how to heal someone by identifying the source of the problem rather than placing a Band-Aid over the symptom with multiple prescribed medications, which seems to be the consistent theme in Western medicine. It is easy to prescribe a medication to quickly solve a medical problem rather than finding the source and truly healing from within. I can vouch for many of us in the spinal cord community that have primary care physicians, cardiologists, endocrinologists, neurologists and many other specialists that often skip listening to our patient feedback and pull out their prescription packet to prescribe our next pill pack. But is this truly necessary? Are we missing the boat on how to heal our secondary issues by overlooking a more natural method?

Ever since college I have always been fascinated with unveiling the truths and discoveries of old, ancient healing methods including a venture into ancient Chinese and Indian traditions of healthcare. It is from the source of these traditions that I found myself falling deeper into Buddhist style meditation and utilizing yoga in my own personal practice as well as teaching others on how to heal from within. And thus I discovered a non-Western Eastern medicine healing system called Ayurveda – one of the oldest healing systems known to man dating back 3000 years ago. I find great value drawing from these ancient healing traditions, as its pure teaching form is based on the all natural, rather than synthetic.

A pseudoscientific method, Ayurvedic medicine is an alternative health system predating to thousands of years ago with origins in India. Its main focus is the alignment of mind, body and spirit. According to this tradition, when these three entities are in alignment, proper health prevails. Alternatively, the imbalance of mind body and spirit is a direct trajectory into disease and sickness. And so therefore, this ancient traditional healthcare ideology focuses on utilizing all-natural, alternative type therapies to bring overall wellness augmenting the balance and harmony of mind body and spirit. Further, instead of focusing on reactively treating dysfunction as we so often do in Western medicine traditions, Ayurveda focuses on preventative strategies to keep the body in balance before disease or sickness takes hold. This balance is achieved with proper nutrition, exercise, compounds of herbal supplements as well as proper lifestyle modifications most importantly using yoga and meditation to help stabilize the human system. Not rocket science indeed and in my opinion makes tremendous sense.

Yoga and meditation have so many beneficial aspects. The simple practice of dropping in and clearing the mind of all the random cranial banter is not an easy task. Hence it is through the movement of the body and holding various poses for periods of time that assist clearing the mind of this constant mind noise. It is truly a gift to oneself, whether it is 10 minutes or an hour and a half of sitting in total silence or moving through various poses focusing on clearing the mind. With yoga and meditation, comes a decrease in stress and anxiety helping sleep patterns, mood, pain patterns not to mention improving the physical body with stretching and strengthening in yoga poses. It is truly a remarkable healing modality that I urge anyone in the spinal cord community to try. You will be amazed at the simplicity and effectiveness of such practice that ultimately helps all of us heal, whatever it may, be from within.

Keep on keeping on,

Elizabeth/EB Forst

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.