Growth Therapies

Man's quest for knowledge of himself has recently expanded in a holistic fashion. The ever growing need for new techniques to facilitate our ability to aid the growth/learning process has resulted in a trend towards growth techniques. Yoga is one of the most popular of these, presenting a stable and progressive path to the highest consciousness.

Dissatisfaction with the present education system's lack of creative and intuitive studies to help us to know ourselves better has led many to search for or invent such techniques themselves. The following list represents just a few of the ever-growing variety of techniques which aim at helping to make us aware of our bodies and consequently our deeper personalities. For with the increased awareness that man is experiencing today has come the realization that both are vitally interlinked.

  1. Alexander technique was devised by Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955). It aims at developing sensory appreciation of sensory movements or awareness of muscular movements stemming from the head and neck. This area was said by Alexander to be the 'primary control' centre affecting all muscle, skeletal and nerve movement throughout the whole body. This is the area that receives the most tension in most people, being closest to the thinking centres in the brain. Alexander claims that there is no 'right' way of movement but rather that there is a correct direction to move through time and space in relationship with the gravitational force.
  2. Biofeedback was pioneered by such workers as Dr Neal E. Miller, Joseph Kamiya and Dr Barbara Brown. This is a technique which uses machines to feedback body information, such as blood pressure, temperature, and so on, so as to learn control.
  3. Dance therapy, founded by Marion Chace, is designed to increase body awareness of natural everyday movements and thereby relaxes tension patterns and emotions. It aims to broaden an individual's well being and feelings of self-worth.
  4. Feldenkrais was developed by Dr Moshe Feldenkrais, a physicist and black belt in judo who studied and combined anatomy, physiology and biochemistry. He instigated a systematic process of relearning in order to erase patterns of tension and stress which are programmed into the body. He claims that self-improvement must be preceded by awareness, which he defined as being a combination of sensation, thinking and movement, This restores natural harmonious function. He used such techniques as manipulative light, touch and contact to move muscles in the way they want to move. When original motions are restored we are liberated from constricting and confined movement.
  5. Polarity therapy was devised by Dr Randolph Stone, a chiropractor, osteopath and naturopath who combined homeopathy, acupuncture and naturopathy so as to release energy blocks and balance energy from back to front and top to bottom. His techniques include: gentle two-handed manipulation of sensitive pressure points; polarity yoga which is a series of easy stretching exercises combining sound and movement; polarity diet which is mainly herbs and those foods which cleanse and purify the digestive system, so as to rebuild body weaknesses and establish clear thinking.
  6. Touch for health is the system of Dr John Thie who combined the kinesiology of Dr George Goodheart with chiropractic and osteopathic techniques so as to balance muscle function. He also used acupressure and massage. In this he aims to discover minor imbalances in the body, through a simple system of muscle tests, and then to correct them before they become major.

These are just a few of the techniques available. Each practitioner makes his own changes and adjustments to suit his personality and clients. New therapies develop. As a result it becomes difficult for us to choose which technique is the best for us.

Yoga is undoubtedly one of the most systematic, versatile and powerful of self-therapies. Being an ancient technique developed by sages who had already reached the pinnacle of human evolution, it is free of the unnecessary added extras that may actually block the individual's growth. Yoga is a refined system.

Many people find that by combining yoga with one or more of the above therapies they have a stable base, in yoga, on which to judge the other systems. They can then synthesize their experiences according to a single, simple and practical matrix and progress more quickly. Indeed, as we progress along the yogic path we see that most of these therapies are to be found in yoga itself.

At the basis of all the techniques is awareness and relaxation. Whatever system can best cultivate these faculties in our life is the best for us. Experience is the best teacher in this regard. However, one question remains in our minds. What happens when we have traversed the many growth techniques available, have remoulded our bodies and our minds and thereby achieved a means to more flexible and adaptable growth? When we have finished all the techniques, all the methods, all the various ways and means to make ourselves 'better', what is left?

There is no technique which will adequately answer this question other than meditation, self-inquiry, or contemplation. The purpose of our existence is the big question. Some say it is to help others to grow while others say that it is to just be. Whatever is your answer, yoga is probably the only means capable of taking us to a satisfactory conclusion.

Once we have finished with the asanas and pranayama, the hatha yoga shatkarmas (cleansing techniques) and so on, we find we are actually inside the experience. We begin to know intuitively for ourselves what our purpose and path is and we just live it. Problems and tensions no longer bother us. We become the meditative experience. We transcend the mind so as to experience the highest consciousness.