For long health has been discussed in a limited sense of proper physiological functioning. Similarly, ill health used to be understood as physiological dysfunction. Today the meaning of health is changing and is moving beyond one’s physical dimension. Health is now discussed in a holistic sense of wellness which includes mental, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and social dimension as well. Health is a part of wellness which is a balanced and continuous evolution of man’s total personality.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the state of Health is defined as a state of complete physical, mental, social and spiritual well being and not merely an absence of disease or infirmity. WHO also suggests a fourth dimension i.e. “spiritual well being”. It is clear from this definition that health and ill-health are not two discrete entities as commonly understood but it is conceived as a continuous function indicating the state of well being.
Yoga understands health and wellness as a dynamic continuum of human nature and not a mere ‘state’ to be attained and maintained. The lowest point on the continuum with the lowest speed of vibration is that of death whereas the highest point with the highest vibration is that of immortality; in between these two extremes lays the states of normal health and disease.
In the above diagram, the 3rd quadrant, ‘the region of ill health’, represents what we normally designate as ‘sickness’. Below this level, man acts instinctively and is akin to an animal. The 1st quadrant, the region marked as ‘normal man’, indicates the state of normal health. As he moves along the line further up, he becomes healthier featured by many dormant faculties of mind and intellect expressing more vividly. This is shown as the region of ‘positive health’, the next region after the human spectrum. In this stage, the limitations of normal man, namely, the strong urges of thirst, hunger, fear are reduced greatly and are fully under control. According to the concept of Sri Aurobindo, the new faculties of deeper perceptions of the world beyond the five senses emerge in this phase of superhuman existence. Further, growth leads man to unfold the deeper layers of consciousness and widen the spectrum of his knowledge to move towards divinity or perfection.
Yoga is a systematic and conscious process for accelerating the growth of a human being from his animal level towards the ultimate state of divinity said Swami Vivekananda. It must be understood that divinity is a symbolic state of unified and perfectly balanced personality which is a rare occurrence. Yoga is a systematic methodology for an all-round personality development – physical, mental, intellectual, emotional and spiritual components of man. Thus, yoga in its general methodology for the growth of man to divine heights includes techniques useful for therapeutic applications in making man healthier.