Health Is ___?
How do you define health? Is it connected to a certain part of your body, like being headache-free or having good digestion? Or is it being fit, athletic or “buff”? When you say you are “doing well” today do you mean that you are optimistic or feeling financially stable or in love? Are you healthy because you feel connected with people and the world around you?
All these physical, emotional and spiritual states are used when considering the effects of yoga. Historically the emphasis has shifted frequently; if you look at how the modern schools of yoga have defined the concept of health. For some it meant strength and balance achieved in the muscular system, while others focused more on the organ health of for example, the kidneys and liver.
The more meditative forms (especially yoga that had been influenced by Buddhist practices) associated health with an even keel mind that is not easily led into anger.
Ecstatic forms of yoga (like those of Tantric or even Sufi schools) consider health to be that marvelous connection with all energies in the universe and emphasize the expression and immersion in this bliss state.
At the Sivananda organization, where I trained as a yoga teacher, there was a sign that read, “Health is Wealth.” I’ve often thought about that, in all its different meanings.