IF you're feeling under the weather and out of shape then a trip to the doctor may not always be the answer. Old medicine may indeed be the best medicine, as the saying goes.

This is certainly the view of those who teach Dru yoga.

They say the ancient discipline, shrouded in the mists and mystery of the east, has earned its place as the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of our hectic, modern world.

Yoga is more than 5,000 years old, dating back to the Indus Valley civilisation and comes from the Sanskrit word "Yuj", meaning to unite.

Yoga is based on the union of mind, body and spirit and of opposites - sun and moon and masculine and feminine.

Dru yoga differs from other forms of yoga in that the traditional asanas (Sanskrit for postures) are taught with a softness to the joints allowing flowing sequences with mudras (Sanskrit for a symbolic or hand gesture), visualisations and affirmations.

Practitioners learn to develop an awareness of the complex and beautiful interplay of their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energies.

Twelve people from Worcester and Droitwich had the opportunity to sample the benefits of the ancient technique at a free taster session at St Swithun's Institute, The Trinity, Worcester, on Sunday led by yoga tutors from Dru yoga in the Midlands, an international school for 30 years.

The practice aims to work on freeing the body's natural energy and can have both physical ad mental benefits.

Rita Goswami, one of the master trainers, has taught Dru yoga in 31 countries.

She said: "I am passionate about Dru yoga because I have seen people reap its benefits. I've witnessed its effectiveness in the business world, in hospitals, in schools and colleges, in sports centres, prisons and refuges for the victims of war and trauma. I've seen people improve their lives physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually by regular and committed practice of Dru yoga."

Joshna Patel, another of the international school's tutors, said Dru yoga may have ancient roots but brings clear benefits to the modern world for young and old.

She said: "Some say old medicine is the best medicine. Brought into GPs' surgeries as a therapeutic tool, the movements of Dru yoga are believed to help with insomnia, headaches, back pain, high blood pressure, breathing and digestive problems, smoking, obesity and stressful living.

"Most gain the immediate advantage of learning relaxation and breathing skills. Relaxation lets go of the business of the day. If you calm your breath the body is calmed too."

Dru yoga has been developed with improving quality of life in mind based around continuous flowing movements with close attention paid to the heart and the spine.

Athletes and dancers in the performing arts find Dru yoga has a vital niche in their training programme and even people who are physically incapable of moving can follow and benefit from each class, say organisers.

A health programme will include a simple movement practice, breath and mudra (hand-gesture) techniques, which tutors say can prove solutions for depression, grief, anger and fear.

Joshna said: "Most health problems probably start at a mental or emotional level, but we don't deal with them until they become physical - then we have to cope with them. But it is much better to manage mental and emotional imbalances as they come up."

Yoga has always been a holistic discipline that deals with body, mind and spirit at the same time. One of the cornerstones of this whole process is the development of heart power.

Dru yoga is essentially a yoga of the heart in that many of the postures and sequences are designed to activate the Anahata chakraor or heart centre. Joshna said: "There is an understanding in the West now that yoga is all about physical positions that have to be mastered. But yoga is not just about physical training. It's an ancient practice for accessing and healing the body and mind. It goes beyond physical fitness. In America now there are over 15 million people doing yoga but most of them are missing the most important health benefit yoga can offer which is emotional strength, flexibility and immunity."

Dru yoga is based on the principle that the body has a natural healing potential and all we have to do is use it more efficiently by varying our lifestyle, diet and mental attitude.

Physical health benefits include general toning and increased energy levels.

DRU YOGA: THE FACTSDru yoga aims to strengthen the energetic field surrounding the heart which harmonises the body, mind and emotions.

"Dru" actually translates from Sanskrit as the "still point" or "the calm in the eye of the storm" - a refuge from the stresses and strains of our modern world.

In 2005 Dru yoga in the West Midlands asked a team of psychiatrists to help create a questionnaire asking practitioners about their experience of Dru yoga. With more than 450 responses, 93 per cent said they had improved flexibility of the spine, 91 per cent that they overcame negative thinking and 89 per cent reduced stress.

For details call Joshna on 01902 409164 or 07957 424 381.

For information visit www.dru worldwide.com or www.dru yoga.originationinsite. com/what isdruyoga/4514781215.

The next taster session is on Monday, March 3, from 7pm to 9pm at the Green Centre, Gresham Road, Worcester.