Yog(a): Medical benefits

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.

Benefits , India Today , June 16, 2016


The basics

Ma Hansa Jayadeva Yogendra, A Daily Yoga Routine Could Bring Great Benefits, December 22, 2018: The Times of India

Yoga means uniting with the object i want to get to know entirely, which means concentration with a balanced mind. It also means excellence in work and complete mastery over mind.

Yoga needs to become a part of daily life. This starts in the mind, with our thoughts. We may talk about ahimsa but non-violence starts with thinking kind thoughts, especially about ourselves. How often do we get impatient or put ourselves down for being clumsy or forgetful? Those things happen; we should register them to avoid them in the future but then move on. When we feel good and balanced about ourselves, then it will be easy to feel that way towards others as well.

Yoga needs to permeate all our actions. The yamas and niyamas, the restraints and observances that are the first two basic steps of Ashtanga – non-violence, truth, non-stealing, continence and non-covetousness and purity, contentment, fortitude, study of self and surrender to the absolute, respectively – are good check points.

We need to stop reacting and start acting. Reaction happens automatically, without thought, whereas action is mindful response to any situation. For example, if someone shouts at me, my first reaction might be to shout back. That is the ego talking. Perhaps he had to shout to be heard. An objective assessment of the situation will reveal that it is better to move to a quieter space and continue the conversation.

This question comes up often: ‘What to do when somebody insults me?’ or ‘How not to get hurt by others?’ Well, it is our choice to get insulted or hurt or not. Nobody can hurt me if i decide not to get hurt. So if that happens, if someone tries to insult or hurt you, take a step back and enjoy the show. There is no need to get involved; simply observe.

As householders, it is our duty to take care of ourselves and make sure all the systems of our body are in balance. This can be achieved through ahar, vihar, achar and vichar – right diet, sufficient rest and recreation, good management of the outside world and a positive outlook towards life.

Another thing is that nowadays, everyone is stressed. This is where asanas and pranayama – the fourth and fifth step in Ashtanga Yoga – can help because stress is all in the mind and when the mind is disturbed, we should move into the body. Asanas can be simple but should be done with sincerity, dedication and regularity. Four times a day, a person should sit quietly for two to five minutes – for example in sukhasana – to give strength to the body and balance to the mind.

Pranayama is essential to regulate our breath and vital energy. Our founder would say, “Those who have mastered the art of breathing have mastered the art of living.”

In summary, a householder needs to concentrate and excel at work and have a balanced and strong mind all the time together with a tender heart. In addition to the things mentioned above, yoga benefits everyone and is essential for everyone. So whenever we think before we act, we are living yoga. Whenever we keep the purpose of any action in mind and act, then we are living yoga.


Pulkit Sharma, A Yogic Approach To Overcome Depression, April 7, 2017: The Times of India 

The present-day mental health specialist strengthens the individual's existing identity by changing his neurotransmitters, thinking patterns, emotional reactions and behaviour.Although this seems to help the person in dealing with depression in the short-run, it falls short of offering a permanent solution. Many people who get cured either experience a relapse, develop another mental disorder or continue to have poor quality of life. The need of the hour is to develop alternative approaches to combat this prevalent disorder.

In my experience, psychotherapy based on Indian yogic tradition can offer a far more effective and enduring solution to depression. Patanjali, author of Yoga Sutras, gives in-depth analysis that helps us comprehend the root cause and cure of depression. Our flawed psychological make-up is the main culprit behind depression and other psychological disorders. He eluci dates five main components or klesas that constitute this grossly mistaken view of the self ­ avidya, ignorance; asmita, sense of isolated self; raga, attachment; dvesha, repulsion; and abhinivesa, clinging to life.

Due to ignorance we often consider the outward changing world and shifting inner temperament to be reality rather than seeing the eternal presence that lies beneath these fluctuations. While identifying with these fluctuations, we grieve over the aspect that was there, but is now no more and become depressed.

Once the veil of ignorance is lifted you experience the eternal presence and all grief vanishes. We realise that what is changing is of little consequence because we always have had that which does not change. Under the influence of asmita, we confuse our Self with our body and mind and become egoistic.

Consequently , we consider ourselves to be separate from the cosmos. This feeling of isolation makes us lose faith in the Divine leading to hopelessness and helplessness. When we rise above egoism we realise that our Self is limitless, pervasive and a part of the Divine. As a result, we become fearless and ecstatic even in the face of adversities.

Raga is a fixation on pleasant involvements while dvesha is an obsession around negative experiences. We erroneously believe that in order to be happy we need to chase and dwell upon pleasant experiences and avoid negative experiences.

The more we try to do this, the further we are caught up in the cycle of pleasure and pain leading to depression.Bliss happens when we break our attachment to both pain and pleasure.Abhinivesa is our wish to cling to our physical body and live because we fear the unknown. Although the survival instinct is important, fear of the unknown makes us cling to a baser level of existence. We forget that we are basically a soul that has taken up a body to continue our evolution.

Rather than strengthening the person's existing identity , the yogic approach elucidates its limited and false nature. Consequently , the person suffering from depression feels motivated to find a method that enables him to develop contact with the Divine and wake-up to a higher individuality within him. Once the Divine being takes charge of the consciousness, the person dwells in his true nature which is bliss and there is complete freedom from depression.


Daily Excelsior , Cure migraine with Yoga “India Today” 9/7/2017

Migraine is a neurological disorder that causes recurring headaches ranging from moderate to high intensity. Typically it effects only one half of the head and can last from 2 hours to up to more than 2 days. When under a migraine attack, the sufferer may become extremely sensitive towards light or noise. Other common symptoms include vomiting, nausea and pain aggravation due to physical activity.

According to a UK based trust, about eight million people in UK alone suffer from migraine and almost 0.2 million migraine attacks happen everyday in UK. It is also believed that migraine is the most common neurological condition and is more common than asthma, epilepsy and diabetes combined together.

What’s the way out?

If you have been suffering from head-splitting ache for years or have recently been diagnosed with migraine, there are ways other than medication to help overcome your pain. Arterial surgery, muscle surgery, Occipital nerve stimulation, Botox, beta-blockers and anti-depressants are a few of the various preventive methods available today to fight migraine attacks. But beware: Not all of these methods come without side-effects. Opting for some of these methods may increase the risk of hpyotension, heart attacks, insomnia and nausea to name a few.

So, is there a natural way to fight against migraine without hurting the body in the process?

Luckily, yes. The answer is Yoga.

Yoga to the rescue!

Yoga is an ancient technique that promotes holistic living through a combination of postures and breathing techniques. Yoga is a side-effect free method to fight migraine. Practising these simple yoga postures for a few minutes everyday will help prepare yourself better for the next migraine attack:

Hastapadasana (Standing Forward bend)

The Standing Forward bend invigorates the nervous system by increasing blood supply and also calms the mind.

Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose)

The Bridge pose calms the brain and reduces anxiety.

Shishuasana (Child pose)

The Child pose calms down the nervous system and effectively reduces the pain.

Marjariasana (Cat stretch)

The Cat stretch improves blood circulation and also relaxes the mind.

Paschimottanasana (Two-legged Forward bend)

The Two-legged Forward bend calms the brain and relieves stress. This yoga posture also relieves headache.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog pose)

The Downward Facing Dog pose increases blood circulation to the brain and thus relieves headache.

Padmasana (Lotus pose)

The Lotus pose relaxes the mind and alleviates headache.

Shavasana (Corpse pose)

The Corpse pose rejuvenates the body by bringing it into a deep state of meditative rest. The yoga routine should be ended by lying down in this pose for a couple of minutes.

Migraine attacks cause unbearable pain and can hamper one’s personal as well as professional life. Explaining your situation to family, friends and colleagues will encourage moral and emotional support from them. It will also help them have an open-minded view about your situation. Also, don’t stop your medication till your doctor advises so. Yoga is a means to make your resistance against migraine better and should not used as an alternative to medication.

Practising these simple yoga postures will lessen the impact of a migraine attack and may eventually stop them permanently. So, roll out the yoga mat, repose for some time everyday and shut migraine out of your life for good!

(Issued by Art of Living Jammu & Kashmir)

Type 2 diabetes

The Times of India, Jun 01 2016

Sushmi Dey

Yoga can be helpful in prevention and management of type 2 diabetes mellitus in adults, scientific reviews of over 25 trials conducted globally shows. Systematic reviews of trials conducted on Indians as well as Americans show yoga can help control blood sugar levels, improve the lipid profile and manage body weight, all of which can be very effective in preventing type 2 diabetes. The reviews were recently published in two international medical journals ­ Elsevier and the Journal of Diabetes Research. “Findings suggest yogic practices may promote significant improvements in several indices of importance in DM2 (type 2 diabetes) management, including glycemic control, lipid levels and body composition,“ said a review published in Journal of Diabetes Research.

Analysis of data from these trials suggest that yoga may also lower oxidative stress and blood pressure, enhance pulmonary and autonomic function, mood, sleep and quality of life. With regular practice, yoga can also reduce medication use in adults with type 2 diabetes.

However, the reviews suggested because of the methodological limitations of existing studies, additional highquality investigations are required to confirm and furt her elucidate the potential benefits of yoga in diabetics.

Doctors say yoga can be considered as an add-on intervention for management of diabetes. However, currently it cannot replace moderate intensity aerobic exercises prescribed to diabetic patients as more scientific evidence is required.

“If ancient yogic practices (diet, yogic asanas, simple way of life) are performed, it will benefit any lifestyle disease. However, currently yoga has to pass through more rigorous scientific scrutiny before any definitive recommendations can be made regarding adding to mainline therapy ,“ said Dr Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes. The health ministry has also commissioned similar large-scale studies in India through S-VYASA, an Indian university for Yoga.

Yoga is a cardio if done fast enough

Gretchen Reynolds, Is yoga cardio? Yes, if you do it fast enough, Feb 10, 2017: The Times of India

Yoga offers some obvious benefits: stress reduction, muscular flexibility, an enhanced sense of well-being. But does it qualify as an aerobic workout?

Aerobic activity, characterised by an elevated heart rate and increase in the body's use of oxygen, is closely linked to improved health and prolonged life spans; current guidelines suggest that people get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week. Scant research has examined whether yoga is exercise under those guidelines, though. Now two new studies in Complementary Therapies in Medicine indicate that it can be, at least if done rapidly. The practice of yoga in the US typically consists of bodily poses interspersed with or followed by breathing exercises and meditation.The most famous movements are incorporated into the sun salutation (surya namaskar).

These can be among the most physically demanding segments. Yet according to a 2016 review of yoga research, the energy expended by those who move slowly during sun salutations generally compares to the demands of a stroll at approx 5kmph. Exercise scientists at the University of Miami wondered whether lesslanguid yoga would be more aerobically beneficial. They outfitted 22 healthy adult volunteers with masks and sensors that measured energy expenditure and muscular activity and had them complete as many sun salutations as possible in eight minutes.

Not surprisingly , about 48 calories on average were burnt during the eight-minute sessions, compared with 29 while doing the standard salutations. The salutations, particularly when done three times as fast, functioned as in tense interval training, says Joseph Signorile, a professor at the University of Miami and the senior author of the studies. Signorile acknowledges yoga's nonaerobic virtues. “We're not saying that you should ignore the meditative side,“ he says.

The guided contemplation of body provides significant psychological benefits. But the energy expended is about the same that you would spend taking a nap.

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