Advanced Yoga Practices
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Lesson 306 - Vitamins, Supplements and Herbal Remedies  (Audio)

AYP Plus Additions:
306.1 - Are Herbal Supplements Essential for Spiritual Development?

From: Yogani
Date: Feb 18, 2009

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"

If we are eating a balanced diet with a good assortment of fruits and vegetables, all of our nutritional needs will be taken care of. If we cultivate good dietary habits, there will be no need for supplemental vitamins and minerals. If the diet is not so good, then supplements can serve a need, though they cannot fully compensate for imbalances in the diet.

Dietary supplements of all kinds are taken by hundreds of millions of people around the world every day. It is another one of those multi-billion dollar industries that has grown out of our concerns about diet and health. If the diet is already good, taking supplements may be regarded to be insurance, just in case our diet has a few nutritional holes in it. And if the diet is poor, the supplements may serve a much larger perceived role. The truth is, all the pills in the world are not going to compensate for a poor diet. In that case, taking supplements is a misguided strategy that masks the real issue. It is not about the nutrients we are not receiving in our diet. It is about all the things we are putting in that are detrimental to our health. If we step back behind the behaviors, we may find that the supplements are being used to avoid a more fundamental issue that is transcending dietary considerations.

Why is it that we take supplements? No doubt we all swear by one or two, at least, convinced that we have found the way to avoid the common cold, or have secured the proverbial fountain of youth in a magic pill. Maybe so, but a good daily routine of yoga practices leading to a balanced diet and lifestyle will do much more for our health and longevity than dietary supplements ever can.

It is okay to take supplements, as long as we are realistic about their use in relation to the rest of what we are doing in our life. There is no single magic bullet that will give us good health. And there is no handful of pills every morning that can do it for us either. However, there is magic in developing a balanced overall approach to living from the inside out. Lasting happiness can be found by going to our silent center within in daily deep meditation, and then learning to act from there (samyama). 

As they say, happiness cannot be found in a bottle, including in a pill bottle.

It should be mentioned that the herbal medicine systems of China, India and the indigenous native cultures of the world are highly developed, with centuries of accumulated knowledge. The application of these natural medicine systems is based on specific causes and effects for adding spiritual development, the prevention of diseases, or their cure, developed over thousands of years. It is a specialized area of knowledge that does not lend itself to casual experimentation like we see happening so often in the field of dietary supplements, sometimes with more risk than is anticipated. 

There are benefits that can be gained by consulting with or studying the work of experts in the application of herbal preparations. What is there in the ancient health systems is valuable and can complement the considerable capabilities of modern medicine, and, in some cases, delay or eliminate the need for more radical medical measures. In fact, our modern pharmaceutical industry utilizes substances found in the ancient healing systems far more than is generally known.

Of course, the best insurance against disease is a lifestyle that promotes good health and the prevention of mishaps. This is where the spiritual aspect of our life plays an essential role.

The guru is in you.

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Note: For detailed discussion on yogic diet, see the Diet, Shatkarmas and Amaroli book, and AYP Plus.

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