Western medicine likes to compartmentalize everything. If you are having stomach issues, you go to a GI doc, even if those stomach issues are happening because of stress or chronic pain. The GI doc says “there’s nothing wrong with your stomach”, you’re fine. But you know you’re not. And all of this assumes that in our broken US healthcare system, you have a doctor that refers you, or you can get an appointment timely and nearly, and that the medical provider doesn’t just wave their hands and say “it’s all in your head”. So the psychiatrist proscribes pills that may work somewhat, may suggest talk therapy that for a variety of reasons may or may not work, and when you’re left floundering they, or some helpful friend or family member says, “why don’t you try yoga?”

At which point, if you identify at all with this story, you’re probably ready to throw something at the wall. Because the truth is, yoga alone cannot save us. Yoga is a powerful tool. It helps to move the body, to connect us with our muscles and tendons and bones. It helps us to connect with our breath and improve our relaxation and reduce our stress. Please don’t believe for one moment I’m dismissing yoga. I’m not.

It’s just…not the only way to help ourselves and what works for one person may not work for another. For example, I’m seeing someone sell a specific type of yoga to help our nervous systems. But sometimes we need a more yin practice, and sometimes all the excess energy needs to go somewhere and that may mean yoga isn’t the best fit at that time.

Yoga was never meant to be a band aid, a patch. Yoga means union, and has historically been taught and trained as a way to seek freedom from the karmic wheel of life. It’s not a “pill” you can take to cure some illness. Our energetic systems don’t work that way.

If we still consume what is harming us–and no one is exempt from this as no one is perfect–then no matter what we do, we’ll still experience the disturbances and issues which we wanted to start doing yoga to fix in the first place. This is why I believe in pairing yoga with other modalities, whether that’s meditation, tapping, reiki or energy work, or even more traditional western medicine. We have to understand that “just do yoga” is as harmful to the yoga community as it is to the person to whom you’re saying it.

 Yoga alone can’t fix what ails us. It, however, is a great first step, and I hope you’ll join me on this journey.