Whether yoga is studied as a method for preventing or treating disease, as a way of coping with difficult-to-treat or chronic illnesses, or as a way of altering the energy state of the body, it's important to remember that yoga is a way of living and not an isolated technique, say the experts. "While many doctors and patients demand proof that yoga really can help certain medical conditions, they risk overlooking yoga's far-reaching benefits," says Elliott S. Dacher, M.D., author of Whole Healing: A Step-b\y-Step Program to Reclaim Your Power to Heal (Plume, 1997). "Yoga is a way to get to the source of ourselves. The challenge is not to see yoga as a treatment for disease, but as an opportunity to see something deeper in the self. To reconnect with the body is one way of artfully facing the reality of pain in our life and a means for accepting and being with our lives more deeply," he adds. As researchers build a body of studies and trials confirming what yoga practitioners know so well, then, it may still come down to being in and with our bodies in ways too profound to measure.
Elaine Lipson writes about yoga, organic foods, natural health, and textiles. Alison Ashton, a writer based in San Diego, California, contributed to this article.