Unlock the Body's Medicine With Yoga | Omega

Born in Northern India, Madan Bali started teaching yoga in Montreal in 1969. Now as a master yogi and Vedanta scholar with a doctorate in complementary medicine, he continues to share the joys of yoga and healthy lifestyle in schools, hospitals, community centers, and at his studio, Yoga Bliss.

Omega: Can you describe the basic principle of your yoga practice?

Madan: I’ve been teaching, researching, and coming up with new insights since 1969. Yoga has much more to offer than we think. We have the finest technology available on this planet in our own body. The body writes its own prescription from moment to moment. Just think about when we go into deep sleep, there’s nothing to be done, nothing to be fixed. Everything is being done for us.

I use the principle of automated technology, instead of paying attention to alignment, or the adjustment of the hips, or flexibility, which has become the focus in North America. Flexibility is obviously necessary, but the main principle I use is that consciousness is a processing center, just like computer technology.

Just as we punch information into the computer and we get the right answer, we can do the same through the power of intention with our body. The answer doesn’t come in language, but it comes in feelings. There’s a precise feedback system in our own body. We are not in touch with it because we have a scattered mind. When the mind is focused and calm, we can communicate within the body, and the feedback that we get is far more sophisticated, more accurate than MRIs and all the other technology that we know of.

The most advanced computer processes three to five billion bits of information per second, but our body can process six or more trillion bits of information per second. I focus on that. I’m focusing on inner journey rather than external techniques and adjustments.

Our body has abilities of the kind that we don’t even know of, unless we pay attention to how to use the power that we already have in us, which has gone into a dormant state. That power can be activated through yoga methodology. It’s a very systematic, structured approach. When you do the postures and breathing, they’re not for their own sake. Each step we have in the eight limbs of yoga is designed to shift us into a higher level of awareness.

Omega: Can you talk more about the relationship between stress and our health?

Madan: In our evolution from the Industrial Age, we’ve developed the need for competition, the need to become bigger and better. With the Newtonian and Darwinian ages, we learned the survival of the fittest i.e.—eat or be eaten. In other words, we are living in fear that creates the fight-or-flight response. Now the information age is overloading our brain and creating a brain drain. This overload runs our cellular battery down and the system of e-communication in our body is being impaired.

The purpose of yoga is the evolution of consciousness. The evolution will take place when we shift from the reactive response created by everyday stress. The human predicament is that 99 percent of the global population is in this stress response, whether they’re conscious of it or carrying subconscious memories from the time of conception from their mother's emotions that are ingested in utero. These memories have to be erased and eradicated, and then new memories have to replace them. It’s only in the relaxation response, like in deep sleep, that the body can heal itself, mobilize itself the most.

That’s what yoga does. When you get in touch with the postures and breathing and you bring your attention into the body, you begin to see this magical moment and how well our bodies are equipped. It’s only during the relaxation response that the creative part of the mind will be activated and new insights will come. People who have done creative work—whether they’re musicians or dancers—they are creating when they’re relaxed, after a good night’s sleep, or after well-rested periods.

From the relaxation response we go into the creative response with regular practice, then we go into the visionary response, where the deeper meaning and purpose of life will reveal itself. As we continue our sadhana, we finally go into the divine response—meaning we begin to feel the need for some higher value in our life, not just our external pursuits, but there’s something deeper than our external endeavors. That’s where the spiritual journey begins.

Omega: If you could design a world healthcare program, what would it include?

Madan: It’s one of my missions to bring yoga to the health-care system. I’m preparing evidence-based studies showing how yoga can be therapeutic and is far more efficient than most modalities. We already have disciplines such as massage therapy, acupuncture, and physiotherapy covered by Medicare in Canada. But yoga can offer much more than that, and that’s one of the missions that I’m working on—to standardize it. Bring it into the mainstream. I have several hospitals that are supporting this project, and the goal is to have the mainstream support it. Also we are trying to approach the college of physicians so that doctors can write prescriptions for yoga and get it covered by Medicare in Canada.

© 2016 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

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