Yoga can completely cure stage 1 cancer: Dr. Meena Ramanathan
Yogachemmal Dr. Meena Ramanathan is a yoga therapist and a consultant in yoga, and is also the Deputy Director at CYTER (Centre for Yoga Therapy Education and Research), Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Pondichery. She has been practicing and teaching yoga since 2004. Dr Meena took a wonderful session on the subject ‘Yoga Therapy: Its principles & practices’ at the International Conference on Yoga, conducted as part of the Yoga Ambassadors Tour 2018, organized by ATTOI, in association with Ministry of Ayush and Kerala Tourism in Kovalam. Manoj Attingal of Tourism News Live catches up with Dr Meena to know more about yoga therapy. Excerpts from the interview…
Could you please explain the difference between yoga therapy and physiotherapy?
In physiotherapy, they concentrate more on the physical exercise, while in yoga therapy we give more importance to breathing. The breath component is very important to bring in the mind and body together –to harmonize. If the breath component is not there, it is just a physical practice, which you can call as a simple exercise. For example, when we just move our hands up and down, physical mobility may be improving, but our mind is not there, which means we need to have synchronization of mind and body.
There have always been controversies that Allopathic is the only authentic stream of medical practice and all the other forms are bogus – how do you comment on it?
It is true. Being a Yoga therapist, I have to convince my patients why should they do yoga, instead of taking just pills. In fact, yoga therapy is not a substitute for allopathic treatment, but it is a complementary thing.
Mainly what kind of illnesses can be cured through yoga therapy?
Any kind of psychiatric problems, all the pediatric problems, neurotic issues and post-traumatic problems can be healed by yoga.
There are people claiming that cancer can be cured by yoga. How far is it possible?
If it is the stage one, we can cure it completely. For stage two, we can subside the illness. We have palliative care center in the hospital; rehabilitation is a part of what we do. If a person lost an organ, after yoga they could use it gradually. Mostly the feedback is “I feel much better.”
What are the services rendered by your Centre?
Apart from the yoga therapy and rehabilitation center, we work as consultants outside for those who require our service. Our clients comprise of special-need children, senior citizens, transgenders etc.
Do you think the concept of International Yoga Day has contributed to the awareness of yoga across the country?
Yes, of course there is remarkable change in the outlook of yoga among people. They started realizing that yoga is not just a physical exercise or standing upside down or doing something acrobatic. People started looking more in to it. The booklet released by the ministry as the protocol has helped people to realize the benefits of doing yoga. Now yoga has become a household world.
In the modern world of commercialization, do you think Yoga is not an exception?
Yes, we should accept the fact that, compromises are happening in yoga, just like in the other sectors. It is a normal thing. However, in some way, it helps to propagate yoga to a wide range of people.
How do you look into the different type of yoga practices, like ‘Hatha Yoga’, ‘Kundalini Yoga’ etc.
It doesn’t matter how you name it or how you practice it, the ultimate aim is to get the benefits of yoga to your body and mind. Though the paths are different, the destination is the same.
Are there any desirable food habits for yogis?
It is advisable to be a vegetarian, when you practice yoga. When we eat the meat of a dead animal, there will be traces of the habits of the animal in our behavior. It will affect the way of our thinking, our emotions and mood.
People have a notion that if they eat only vegetables, it would affect their health and stamina. What is your take on this?
Nothing of that kind. I am a vegetarian, and I don’t think I have any health issues. It is only a belief or the excuses put forward by the non-vegetarians. Same is the case of alcohol. People find excuses to use it. I would like reiterate the fact that our food habits would definitely affect our behavior. If someone cannot refrain from having non-veg, they can reduce the consumption.
The ultimate goal of yoga is said to be self-realization or acclaiming the concepts of ‘aham brahmasmi’ or ‘thatwamasi’; how far the yoga practices prevailing can reach to that level?
It takes a lot of intensity to reach that level. When you start teaching, the more you teach the more you realize. We should not dilute the basic concepts. There is lot of balancing required. Suppose you are walking on a string, holding a pole in both hands; you should be conscious of lots of things – am I walking, am I balancing the pole, am I moving forward, are my steps on the rope the right way and so on. If you are able to get all the conscious together and move forward you can reach the destination.
You have been present here since morning to witness the Yoga Ambassadors Tour to kick start. How was the program so far?
It was just amazing! I just love the way it’s been organized. Everything has been put together in a very nice way. Very prompt actions; Everything, I should say, has been meticulously planned. I have seen so many places where the first time they will be stumbling. There will be lots of hiccups. Most of them say excuses as they are doing it for the first time. But here, there were no such stumbles, hiccups and everything was moving so smooth and as I have understood, all the participants are happy and content. It’s hard to believe that ATTOI is doing such a wonderful job for the first time.
The participants are also amazing and are serious, sincere and looking for more. The event would have been boring had they been not as enthusiastic as this. Even though they know a lot about yoga, they are here as empty cups. They want to take as much as they can. They are ardently looking for what is being given. That’s why I should say it is a fulfilling experience- a soul touching experience.
Are you looking forward for similar events in the future?
Oh, yes. If you call me every year, I would be the happiest person to attend.
Yogachemmal Dr. Meena Ramanathan is the Associate Professor and Deputy Director of CYTER, the Centre for Yoga Therapy Education and Research at MGMCRI (Mahatma Gandhi Medical College & Research Institute), SBV (Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth) University. She has completed numerous undergraduate and post graduate degrees and diplomas in Yoga, Science and English has completed her PhD in Yoga through Tamil Nadu Physical Education and Sports University. She is a recognized IAYT Certified Yoga Therapist by the International Association of Yoga Therapists, USA in February 2017.
She has been recognized as PhD Guide (Yoga Therapy and Inter Disciplinary Research) by Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Pondicherry in March 2016, appointed as Examiner for Quality Council of India (QCI) through Indian Yoga Association, recognised by AYUSH, Central Ministry of Health, New Delhi, in Sep 2016. She has been nominated as “Subject Expert” in the Selection Committee of the Govt of Puducherry, Directorate of Indian Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy; under National Health Mission. She has recently received the Achiever’s Award for “Best Yoga Therapist 2016”.