For the past few years, I've been involved in research on traditional, complementary and alternative medicine (TCAM) from different parts of the world. Our aim is to highlight the important cultural heritage that has been developed in many societies through trial and error, empirical evidence and refined over the course of generations. Our research team also looks into the safety, efficacy, ethics and intellectual property rights of some of the world’s better-known traditional medicines.
Yoga is one such TCAM, coming from a rich heritage of ayurveda - traditional Indian medicine – dating back to the 6th century BCE. It’s said that ayurveda is the science, and yoga is the practice of the science. Modern medicine is only starting to understand the extent of the profound effects that yoga can have on the body and the mind.
Like most traditional health treatments, yoga is based on how the body works in an integrative way and involves individuals in their own self-care, aiming for a preventative, rather than a simply curative view on wellbeing.
Yoga practice is more than its physical movements; it is the philosophy of transcending our individual selves and joining a greater consciousness. Interpret this as you will, but to me, this means thinking outside of ourselves, if only briefly a few times per week.
In recent years, it has become popularized, pre-packaged and dare I say “westernized” to the extent that it has lost many of the essential components that make it an effective traditional medicine. To me, the characterless yoga studios with revolving doors and glossy shiny receptionists have taken the soul and the tradition out of what is essentially one of the oldest forms of self-healing.
Great yoga teachers that understand and live the philosophy of yoga are few and far between. Even fewer are those that are constantly searching to improve their practice through new learning and pass on that knowledge to their students. When I serendipitously came across Yoga Quota a few months ago, I knew I had struck gold. Not only are the classes physically challenging to provide a good work out, they are well constructed and well thought out based on traditional yogic principles.
Anne provides a welcoming and peaceful environment to her students during her classes but even more crucially, she does it with a purpose. By taking yoga practice to groups of people that are in need of physical or mental support, she incorporates the yogic philosophy of thinking outside of oneself.