The Vision of Yoga Therapy in the Bhagavad Gita
2.11 – Ashocyan anvashochastvam
Arjuna is suffering from depression. He sees his own life and the world as sad, hopeless, and meaningless. At an intellectual level, Arjuna understands the spiritual path, but he is unable to apply it to his own life. Krishna begins his Yoga therapy session with Arjuna by letting him know that a change of perspective is needed; and through this change in perspective, he will gain the self-knowledge to see that the problem and the solution both lie within him.
2.40 – Nehabhikramana shosti
pratyavayo na vidyate
trayate mahato bhayat
Yoga therapy encompasses the whole person and the entire life journey, along which we gain wisdom of body, mind, and spirit. Arjuna is concerned about how little knowledge he has, but Krishna reminds him that in the practice of Yoga, no effort is wasted. There is no going backwards, and even a little bit of self-knowledge can protect us from great danger. Here, Krishna reminds us that it is not enlightenment that heals us, but the journey of healing that is essential. And along this journey, we must open that door to healing that is most appropriate.
2.48 – Yogasthah kuru Karmani
sangam tyaktva dhanamjaya
siddhyosiddhyoh samo bhutva
samatvam yoga ucyate
Along the Yoga therapy journey, Arjuna will learn to believe in himself and in his own power of healing. At the beginning of the journey there is a projection onto Krishna, the therapist, as the healer. As he grows stronger, Arjuna will have to learn to rely on his own inner resources and value himself, for himself. As he comes closer to his true Self, Arjuna will gain equanimity. Krishna advises Arjuna to stand firm in Yoga and do his healing work, not worrying about the result, but just staying with the process; and along the journey maintaining and developing equanimity of mind which Krishna defines as the essence of Yoga.
2.51 – Karmajam buddhiyukta hi
phalam tyaktva manishinah
padam gacchanty anamayam
We need to remember that Arjuna came to Krishna to resolve the problem of suffering, not because of some academic interest in Yoga philosophy and Sanskrit. Arjuna is suffering from depression and some of his contemplated actions even involve suicide. He’s looking for reassurance that there really is a way out. Krishna assures Arjuna that there is a place free from pain and explains it in the following way:
Connected to their higher wisdom, having renounced the fruits of action, the wise are free from the bondage of rebirth and gain that place that is free from pain and disease.
Note that the word anamayam is not just a reference to spiritual freedom, but refers directly to a state free of disease and filled with physical health.
2.66 nasti buddhir ayuktasya
na cayuktasya bhavana
ashantasya kutah sukham
Krishna, as a well-trained Yoga therapist, understands fully the importance of stress management on this journey. Without gaining control over the mind, the stress cycle will continue and the peace that can facilitate health and healing, will not be possible. For this reason, Krishna emphasizes connection to our higher wisdom, or buddhi, as an essential element of health and explains it to Arjuna in the following inspired verse:
For the one who is not joined to their higher wisdom,
meditation is not possible; and without meditation, there is no peace.
And without peace, how can there be happiness and ease?