The Yoga of Promoting Health

Another article analyzing the cost of health care around the world was published today. Jeffrey Young of the Huffington Post reconfirmed what many of us already know: that American health care prices are the most expensive in the world. The latest data comes from the International Federation of Health Plans, a group that represents health insurers from 28 countries including the United States. Patients in America pay the highest price for prescription drugs, hospital stays, and common procedures like childbirth and bypass surgery, compared with other countries.

One reason that prescription drugs cost at least three times more in the United States than in the other 27 countries is that the other countries negotiate a deal with the pharmaceutical companies that reduce the cost of drugs for their patients. Another telling sign: in the United States, numerous commercials entice consumers to ask their doctor about the advertised prescription drug, whereas in other countries, the doctor will decide on what to prescribe for their patient.

Here’s another telling sign: in the United States, how often do you come across a public service announcement (PSA) that promotes a healthy habit, such as eating a balanced diet, exercising, getting an HIV test, refraining from texting while driving, quitting smoking, and so on? And when you do, have you noted the quality – usually poor compared to that of prescription drug commercials – of the PSA? In many other countries, it’s hard to miss the better quality PSAs urging people to eat healthy foods, keep moving, and practice safe sex. The one depicted here is from the Catalonia region of Spain, encouraging Catalans to “move yourself” and implying that exercise is good for the heart. Catalan PSAThese PSAs are vital to promote a lifestyle that reduces the incidence of diabetes, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, and so many others that cost the country billions. Conversely, in the United States, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies are profiting from sick people requiring medical procedures and prescription drugs.

How do we change this terrible health care framework in the United States? By maintaining a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of major illness. By speaking up against the high health care costs in America – at the very least, by sharing this post with your loved ones. This starts with YOU. In yoga – which reduces stress, boosts flexibility and strength in character and body – we foster mindfulness, awareness, good health, community action, and compassion.

Compassion towards others includes taking care of your self. If more of us treat our body and mind with greater compassion, we all could contribute to a growing health promotion trend that would reduce the incidence of sickness in America. Let’s make the hospitals and pharmaceutical companies reconsider their intentions, and render health care a right – not a commodity – for all beings.

At the end of every yoga class, we say, “may all beings be happy and free.” Remember to include yourself among all beings.