by Sybille Gebhardt
All Naturopaths believe that the body has an innate ability to heal itself. If you improve your body’s functioning, then it should make itself better from whatever problem it has. For example, if you cut yourself your body heals itself, but if your immune system is under-functioning you might get an infection in that cut.
As a Naturopath I would work towards strengthening your immune system with a tailor-made programme consisting of diet, herbs, bodywork, relaxation techniques, and exercise so that if you cut yourself again you would not get an infection. Naturopathy, through the application of a range of safe, gentle and effective natural treatments to stimulate the body’s own healing mechanisms, works to facilitate optimum health and wellbeing.
Naturopathy is based on several principles such as the body’s innate healing capacity and the importance of educating the individual in relation to the general care of one’s body and mind. That is why yoga is complementary to Naturopathy, because yoga teaches you to inhabit your body more fully, while being more conscious of your thought processes. Yoga really seems to start that "conversation" with your body, which leads to greater self-trust. Having learned how your mind and body respond to external and internal challenges subsequently leads to better relationships with yourself and others. What follows is that people put more focus on prevention and self-care rather than quick fixes when they have become ill. For example when you suffer from a headache you may consider taking a rest, hydrating your body and replenishing lost nutrients rather than stopping its plea for sleep, water and natural foods by taking a painkiller.
As a Naturopath I will consider everything in your life that is impacting on your wellbeing. I will be working with you on three aspects of your health, on the mental/emotional level, the structural level and the biochemical level. On the mental/emotional level we would work with mindfulness meditation, stress reduction exercises, and/or breathing techniques, all of which affect your emotions. For example hyperventilation, which has become a very common and negative breathing habit when people are stressed, can lead to anxiety and even panic attacks. Yoga helps you to observe and encourage a steady even breath more of the time.
The deeper breathing practised in the yoga classes will also help to enliven your brain to its full potential. Through the practice of yoga, you will spend more time in the "present" - for example, noticing the weight on your feet, your breath, emotional reactions and preventing tension build-up. This in turn has an impact on all aspects of wellbeing, including correct breathing habits.
To help you on the structural level I would use bodywork therapies such as lymphatic drainage to support your body’s natural elimination processes or suggest specific yoga exercises to increase your body’s strength and flexibility.
To support you on a biochemical level, treatments would be based on diet, herbs, supplements, hydration, and not eating toxins. To correct biochemical imbalances such as nutrient deficiencies you will need to firstly improve the functioning of your digestive system. Your bowel flora is an ecosystem that aids your digestive system and forms a large part of your immune system. You may consider it as your local community with each individual having their unique bowel flora. Chronic stress, regular consumption of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, junk foods, processed and unnatural foods, antibiotics and some other over-the-counter drugs can bring this ecosystem out of balance. You may then become more susceptible to infections with low energy levels and sub-optimal mental functioning. To rebalance your unique ecosystem I would help you to remove negative factors and influences, help you to find replacements, repair the lining of your gut with herbs and finally cultivate a health bowel flora via pre- and probiotics. Kiki Nature’s Living Superfood includes beneficial bacteria (probiotics) as well as non-digestible food ingredients (prebiotics) that stimulate the growth and activity of the bacteria that form your unique bowel flora. Only if your digestive system functions optimally your body may express it’s full potential to heal itself. That is why most Naturopaths consider the improvement of the digestive system and its unique bowel flora as a starting point for successful treatment.
Sybille Gebhardt, an experienced yoga instructor and Naturopath from Embody Wellness and the Light Centre in London, she has recently developed a programme for cleansing the body, now available on my first yoga DVD, ‘Total Body Cleanse’. The 90-minute programme is divided into six sequences designed for those with a busy lifestyle. It teaches specialsied techniques on how to cleanse the entire body using a specific combination of yoga asana, breathing techniques and mindfulness meditation. Available from bodyinbalanceshop.com and through her website www.sybille.co.uk