Author Archives: Suniti Pattanayak

Arthritis: Management through Yoga

The term arthritis covers a group of inflammatory and degenerative conditions that cause stiffness, swelling, and pain in the joints. There are several types of arthritis each having different characteristics. The most common form is Osteoarthritis which most often involves knees, hips, and hands usually affects middle aged and older people.

Rheumatoid Arthritis which is damaging & chronic condition, causes inflammation in the joints & other tissues, heart, lungs, eyes etc. Septic Arthritis, Reactive Arthritis gout are other form of Arthritis. According to Yoga, Arthritis is not considered to be a disease in itself but rather as one symptom of a widespread metabolic & pranic malfunction which begins early in a person’s life.

Yoga offers a way to assert this process. In the early stages complete cure is possible. In later stages it reduces drug dependency, maximize mobility in the joint and make the life of the arthritic more enjoyable & acceptable. Under the guidance of a experienced teacher a crippled patient can change the outlook on life if he or she follow daily Yoga programme with determination.

 

The physiology of Arthritis

The normal synovial joint is a remarkable self-lubricating, living structure. Joint occurs where bones meet. Lubricating tissue called cartilage lines the end of bone & prevents friction during movement & fibrous ligaments surrounding the joint give strength & support. The joint cavity is lined with a delicate synovial membrane which secretes synovial fluid to lubricate the joint.

The cell of the Joint requires tenuous blood supply for their vital requirement. If the circulation of prana in the joint remains blocked or deficient over a long period of time, the supply of blood & lymphatic fluid becomes sluggish & the joint fluid grows stagnant. When this occurs the waste products & poisons of the waste products & poisons of cellular metabolism build up in the lubricating fluid of the joint rather than efficiently transported to the skin & Kidney for the elimination.

Though medical science recognizes several distinct forms of arthritis, Yoga says these are different stages of the same basic blockage of prana rather than different diseases. The underlying process is the same, but the variations in the rate of symptom have led a number of diagnostics tags to different sufferers of Arthritis. Among all the form of arthritis, Rh Arthritis is  the most severe, crippling and increasingly common form of arthritis. Though the cause remains unknown, in most of the cases, it is frequently triggered by a severe emotional shock or may be precipitated following the sudden introduction of foreign substances into the circulation, perhaps from the administration of a powerful drug or an acute infection. If this foreign substance accumulate in the joint spaces the immune system sends W.B.C to wage a violent inflammatory reaction against them. Offending substances can easily remove from those tissues which have good blood supply, but in the joint spaces it is very difficult to remove the wastes. The joint tissue themselves are not attacked, but they are waged. This fierce inflammatory reaction can completely destroy a major joint within a few months.

The treatment available in medical science- The treatment of Arthritis in medical science is symptomatic. It focuses on the relief of Arthritis pain, but fails to correct the underlying causes. A wide spectrum of drugs are prescribed, beginning with aspirin derivatives.Prolonged use of aspirin in large doses  can have damaging effects on the stomach, liver & kidneys. More powerful anti-inflammatory agents are given which have many harmful side effects. Then the final stage is corticosteroids which are the analogs of the hormones secreted by  the adrenal cortex. These drugs have serious side-effects. The patient’s own adrenal glands begin to degenerate or atrophy the body becomes fat. Diabetes & high Blood Pressure can occur; calcium is leached from the bone, rendering them more susceptible to fracture. The final stage is surgical removal of the affected joint & replacement of with an artificial one. These joints & replacement prove quite effective, often lasting for years. Then further replacement becomes necessary.

 

Main factors leading to arthritis

There are number of factors including mental, emotional stress, diet, faulty lifestyle jointly responsible for the imbalance of the central mechanism of our brain & endocrine system in which our ultimate health depends.

Mental & Emotional Stress- Deep subconscious tension, suppression of emotion, anger, guilt feeling, fear & hypersensitivity can lead to rigidity of personality which then reflected in the physical body, allergies & so on.

Psychic Rigidity- Stubbornness & fear of letting go leads to physical rigidity in the form of arthritis, rheumatism & constipation. The person with arthritis often cannot express deeper emotions & feelings, especially anger, adequately .Most of the time he/she suffers internally & this internalization of feelings creates poisons which upset the total body mechanism.

Diet- Eating excessively rich diet like meat, animal fat, heavy fried food, refined food, fast food, excessive milk, sugar, and ghee, salt plays a major role in aggravating arthritis. Over frequent small portion of meal is a good habit for arthritis patient. Diet should include a large amount of fiber to prevent constipation.

Exercise- Lack of regular exercise, habituated sitting  on chair, never sitting on the floor with cross legged position causes  stiffness in the body.

How Yoga manages most of the cases of Arthritis

Yogic management of arthritis is all embracing & it complements the medical measures. Yoga never advocates drug management of symptoms in isolation, while neglecting the other underlying causes of the problem like, exercise, Diet & lifestyle etc.

Asanas- The anti-rheumatic group of asanas designed in Satyananada Yoga tradition can effectively manage all type of Arthritis. It covers all the joints of the body simply & effectively without causing stress to the body. If one has acute pain, then he/she can proceed very slowly with fewer rounds of asanas. The most important aspect of Satyananda Yoga is awareness. When one starts his Yogic programme with awareness the effectiveness of the asana is manifold. If the stiffness & pain is acute the patient may soak his limbs in warm salty water to increase blood circulation. As the flexibility increases other asanas can be included without straining the body anyway. Other asanas include- Pawanmukta Part-2, Vajrasana Group of Asanas, Bhujangasanas etc. Ultimately, Surya Manaskar can be added to capacity to prevent further arthritic degeneration.

Shatkarma-   Laghoo Sankhaprakhyalana, Neti & Kunjal is a must to empower the digestive & eliminative system. A constipated person can never be cured from arthritis. The metabolic acid & other wastes which accumulate in the joints, bloodstream & tissues should be eliminated properly through the Shatkarma.

Pranayama- Pranayama is also important to release mental & emotional stress which is sometimes the major cause of the Arthritic pain. Sometimes when the patient is completely immobile, not able to do the simplest form of asanas can adopt a systematic Pranayama practice which works wonderfully to come out of the situation in indirect way. Bhastrika & Kapalbhati works wonder in eliminating the metabolic waste & boosts the power of digestive system which corrects all the associated problems linked to arthritis. Nadisodhan pranayama opens all the nadis, supplies prana to all the cells of the body, works upon the circulatary system. Then Bhramari & Udgeetpranayama tranquillizes the mind & emotions.

Meditation & Yoganidra– Meditation & Yoganidra releases mental & emotional tension. Deep relaxation like Yoganidra develops a positive state of mind in the patient. Yoganidra is so beneficial that works as a painkiller & mental transformation which reduces drug dependency & pain sensitivity. But initially if pain has not reduced to a certain limit,one cannot practice yoga nidra During Yoganidra practice the patient realizes the deep rooted pain as the healing process is at the peak. So, he cannot practice it initially as he can’t withstand the pain. So, initially Pranayam helps a lot.

Diet– The diet should be simple as it reduces pain & helps the excretory system & the regenerative process work optimally.

Cooked light grains, cereals, Rice, Sagodana, Chappati, and Barley are good for arthritic patient. Simple carbohydrate is good for arthritic patient as protein rich food is not suitable for the patient. Boiled pulses like Moong is a good source of protein for the patient.

Salads, fruits (except Banana) both fresh & dried nuts in small amount are excellent source of nutrition one can take. Honey can be added as it has anti-inflammatory properties in it.

Dairy products should be reduced to minimum. Avoid processed, refined synthetic food including maida. Seasonal fruits, & vegetable produced in the local area is beneficial. Occasionally non-vegetarian items like Fish, Chicken can be taken.

Evening meal should be lighter and be taken between 5 P.M – 7 P.M

Rest– Rest is a must at acute inflammatory stage.

Exercise– Exercise & Karmayoga is a must for a patient. Patient should have a determined attitude towards activity & exercise to the extent of pushing oneself to maintain a active lifestyle. Walking, swimming, gardening & other gentle form of exercise help to make the body strong.

 Mental Attitude– The most important for the arthritic patient should have a strong positive attitude & patience to follow the Yogic therapy with utmost sincerity & regularity. Initially, he has to face the initial struggle to breakdown the vicious cycle of disease which perpetuates arthritis. Once the condition is reversed & the pain is fully controlled, the joy & the freshness of the patient is unparalled & it will be visible to everybody around him.

Yoganidra – all you need to know

Yoga Nidra is derived from Tantras as a powerful technique of relaxation. It belongs to the higher stages of Raja Yoga, since it essentially is a method of Prtayahara( Non sense indulgence).
The designer of Yoga Nidra is my guru Paramhansha Swami Satyananda Saraswati who derived the technique of Yoganidra from the tantric practice of Nyasa. As the main feature of Yoganidra is systematic rotation of consciousness in the body. In Rishi Patanajali’s Raja yoga or AstangaYoga of Patanjali, Pratyahara is the fifth stage of Astangayoga Yoga where the mind and mental awareness are dissociated from the sensory channels. YogaNidra is one aspect of Pratyahara which leads to higher states of concentration & Samadhi.
This practice was developed when my Guru was in Rishikesh with his Guru in his young age. He had some personal astonishing experience which leads him to develop the technique of Yoganidra. His entire outlook to life changed. He started studying Tantrik scriptures in a new light. He knew that knowledge is transmitted directly through the senses. But from his experience he realized that you can gain direct knowledge without any sensory medium as well. That was the birth of Yoganidra. He realized that sleep was not a state of unconsciousness. When one is asleep there remains a state of potentiality, a form of awareness that is awake & fully alert to the outer situation.
Initially my Guru experimented with himself, later with Dog & on different people. The living example is the present spiritual head of Bihar School of Yoga Paramhansa Swami Niranjannanda Saraswati. Swami Niranjan was presented to BSY at the age of four for Sanyasa. But the boy was very naughty, absolute monkey, all day breaking things, harassing visitors, causing accidents. Finally he became a liability to Ashram. Then, Swami Satyananda decided to try Yoganidra on him.
Now, the whole world looking at Swami Niranjan as the incarnation of Shri Krishna, full of sixteen Kalas walking on this planet without any formal education like Shri Krishna. He was imparted all the knowledge through Yoganidra only.

YOGANIDRA IS AN ART OF RELAXATION TO GET RID OF ALMOST ALL PSYCHOSOMATIC DISEASES
Within the last century or two diseases have sprung up with new dimension & expression which are named as psychosomatic diseases. Modern science has been trying to tackle these problems in many ways. But frankly speaking they have failed in their effort because the real problem doesn’t lie in the body. It originates from Men’s changing ideals, way of thinking & feelings. Most of the problems of the developing countries are not poverty or hunger, drugs or war. It’s tension, hypertension, total tension. If you know how to free yourself from tension, you know how to solve problems in life. There are threefold tensions we accumulate in our day-to-day life. One muscular, two emotional three mental. Whether you think too much or you don’t think at all, you accumulate tension. You work or don’t work you accumulate tension. Therefore in Yoga relaxation from tension is a chief concern. To get rid of tension most people think just lying on the bed or closing one’s eyes one gets relaxation. Unless one is free from muscular, mental & emotional tension you are never relaxed. Despite a superficial sense of well-being most people are full of tension all the time. Some people habitually show many symptoms of tension like biting nails. People do these things because they lack awareness of their own inner tensions. They think they are relaxed but actually they are not. Those who adopt this technique in their daily routine soon experience profound changes in their sleeping habits. The total systematic relaxation of Yoganidra session is equivalent to hours of ordinary sleep without awareness.

YOGANIDRA IS A PRACTICE OF TOTAL TRANSFORMATION
Through the practice of Yoganidra we are not only relaxing but restructuring & reforming our whole personality from within. With every session we born our old Sanskaras, habits and tendencies in order to be born a new. Shri Swamiji also experimented with hardcore criminals in 1968 during a world tour. What is the secret of this transformation? Release of tension, relaxation, peace of mind. There are secret of transformation. When a man is under tension, his behavior is influenced, when he relaxes; he becomes natural & what is the natural state of a man? Sat Chit Ananda Swaroop. I myself witnessed this transformation in some people during some Yoga Nidra session which I conducted. I have also noticed some obvious differences in every person practicing Yoga Nidra. They look at me in a different way as it for years together they were searching for something & somebody has given something unique to them.

YOGANIDRA IS TRAINING OF MIND
As it is already said Yoganidra is a tantric practice because in Tantra the evolution of mind should become a spontaneous matter. One should not fight with his nature, habits& limitations as it creates animosity within us. Therefore, those who try to correct themselves through the religious path become schizophrenic. The unconscious mind is the base of man’s normal & abnormal behavior. Yoganidra is a practice which helps one to dive deep into the depths of mind.
Man is weak because he depends merely on his intellect & the information of his senses, but once the realm of the deeper mind opens by practicing Yoganidra you are at the root of creativity. In Hindu Mythology Lord Vishnu is lying in Yoganidra on the ocean of milk. He is lying on a serpent & Laxmi is massaging his feet. He is in a pose neither unconsciousness nor conscious. He is in a subconscious state. Lord Vishnu is called the organizer of the whole universe. When somebody practices Yoganidra he/she invokes the power of Lord Vishnu within himself & activating the subconscious mind. He enters the deeper realm of unconscious.

YOGANIDRA IS A STATE OF RECEPTIVITY
In day to day life people are not receptive. Intellectual conversation is one aspect of human life. We are intellectually convinced about the duality of life. Intellectual mind is always judgemantal & non receptive. The illogical, restless mind can be disobedient, but Yoganidra mind is absolutely receptive & obedient.
My Guru had a personal experience of a thief who did not leave his habit of stealing when Guruji convinced him intellectually. After 5 years when my guru met him in a village, he was on the same profession of stealing. Guruji remained in the village for 6 months and taught Yoganidra to him along with others. Shortly, after he left his profession.

SOWING THE SEED OF CHANGE
One of the most important things in Yoganidra is the Sankalp. It is said anything in life can fail you, but not the sankalpa made during Yoganidra. By creating a Sankalpa for oneself one gives a direction to life. Generally most of the people lead their life without any goal. They just move in the ocean of life as it naturally leads to. Using the technique of Yoganidra we have a choice in life, that choice is created by the Sankalpa. Intellectual Sankalpa never fructify. In Yoganidra we prepare the mind where a seed is implanted to germinate later. Many people can eradicate their bad habits like smoking or drinking, just by implanting new powerful seeds in the mind. When Sankalpa becomes the directing force, everything you do in life becomes successful.

YOGANIDRA CLEANS THE KARMIC ACCOUNTS
Karmas or Sanskaras are accumulated in the different layers of man’s inner consciousness. The deepest is the unconsciousness, the second is the sub consciousness and the third is the consciousness. In the doctrine of Karma these three levels are known as current Karma, accumulated Karma & destiny. In Yoganidra one’s consciousness travels from one layer to another. That’s why sometimes there is fantastic & exploding experience. During the practice when dissociation takes place between mind & body one has a lot wonderful experience. Their experiences are nothing but the manifestation of one’s harmony either from this life on previous lives. This is how the process of Yoganidra eliminates the whole store of Karmas & purifies the deeper layer of the mind. Behind the senses & the mind, there are other faculties which most of us not experienced as far. Sometimes, in Yoganidra one is able to go to the core of the consciousness. Then, we can manifest the latest faculties of the supersonic cerebral circuits. The extra sensorial centers in the brain are known as supersonic circuits & they are very powerful. Sometimes some extra sensorial experience is termed as madness or hallucination. But my Guru says madness is not a sickness. It is a development state of the brain. He considers madness a spiritual experience which man has not been able to handle. He says what is the difference between a Yogi & madman? A yogi is able to handle his experiences & a madman generally ends up in a lunatic asylum. Through the technique of Yoganidra it is taught how to handle them. If one can handle the mind through the practice of Yoganidra it is possible one can completely unite with his inner being.
Yoganidra is not a practice of concentration; it is just awareness one has to follow the instructions of instruction in a very relaxed manner. It is very natural for the practioner of Yoganidra to miss some of the instruction, it doesn’t matter. In Yoganidra it is not important to make yourself peaceful. Whatever state of mind one has, should not force oneself.

YOGANIDRA IS A PROCESS OF PRATYAHARA
In Yoganidra we are directly at the 5th stage of Patanjali’s astangyoga which is called Pratyahara. When Pratyahara becomes deep and powerful total isolation of the brain takes place. Then the cerebral fluid which flows around the brain underneath the skull is changed with a high level of energy. At this level one begins to have psychic experiences. But through Yoganidra these psychic experiences must be avoided. When one develops psychic awareness he is going beyond the range of Yoganidra.

YOGANIDRA & HYPNOSIS
Most of the people think it is a form of hypnosis. But, they are scientifically totally different. It starts in a hypnotic state, but if one can disconnect the sensory channels & still maintain awareness. One will be able to transcend the barriers of one’s personality & go to any depth or height.
According to Yoga there are three important Nadis or energy channels in this physical body called Ida, Pingala & Susumna. Ida, the mental force, Pingala, the vital force, Susmna, the spiritual force. In scientific terminology it is known as Sympathetic, Parasympathetic & Central Nervous system.
Throughout our lives, Ida, Pingala Nadis asre continouesly feeding the brain with necessary stimuli which enable us to recognize an object, a sound or idea. If you close off Ida, Pingala by means of Pratyahara, then the brain is isolated, i.e. Hypnosis. But, in Yoganidra the Central Nervous system, Susumna Nadi, awakens the brain completely. The brain receives higher quality of stimuli & knowledge.

YOGANIDRA & BRAIN
Modern neuropsychologists have demonstrated the relationship between body & brain which was already recognized by ancient Yogis. The neurosurgeon affects the body by stimulating the brain. The practice of Yoganidra heightens the awareness of body in order to stimulate the brain. The hologram of the physical body exists within the cerebral white matter. Therefore, Yoganidra is a powerful practice of restoring the health. In Yoganidra the destructive psychosomatic tendency is effectively alleviated by the opposite somatopsychic route. The psychosomatic imbalance is restored spontaneously due to liberation of prana or nervous energy. This energy is redirected for healthy rejuvenation of overtaxed tissues, glands & organs.
VISUALISATION OF SYMBOLS
When we start visualizing the symbols, we are at the sixth stage of Astangyoga. Our mind is a store house of the Sanskaras which condition our thought & experience which compel us to act in a certain way. They are the root cause of the tension. The process of visualization in Yoganidra enables us to purge these Sanskaras from the mind. Finally, I would say Yoganidra leads us to the deeper layer of our consciousness eventually leads us to Samadhi, the final state of achievement. The practice leads us a disease free; transformed personality, heighted awareness & cleansing our Karmas. At psychological level, the fruit of this practice is a detached outlook in life & maturity of the personality. Finally, we start shaping our destiny.

Yoga for Digestive System

A healthy digestive and eliminative system is absolutely necessary for good physical and mental health. A large number of chronic degenerative and metabolic diseases are secondary effects of long term malfunctions and abuse of the digestive system. In these diseases are included asthma, diabetes, arthritis, heart and vascular disorders, skin diseases, cancers, headache, obesity, mental diseases, sexual disorders and other endocrine mal-functions. There debilitating and often fatal processes have their genesis in disturbed digestion, assimilation and elimination processes.

Therefore, in attempting to ameliorate or manage major diseases, it is frequently necessary to initially strengthen and rebalance the primary digestive processes. Indigestion is everyone’s problem. Everybody has an experience of indigestion in some time in their life. Indigestion is actually a deeper problem than most of us realize. Most of the people have taken for granted that indigestion is a part of life. In most of the houses antacid and digestive medicines are the part of their food intake. Which should not be as it does more harm to our body in the long run. We should use it judiciously. Rather avoid using.

The Causes Of Indigestion:

The various digestive diseases have a multitude of causes, from mental or emotional disturbance, the habit of swallowing air, to gluttony. Other prime causes of indigestion or dyspepsia are a diet deficient in mineral salts, eating too many  refined foods such as those made of white flour and cane sugar products, drinking with meals, hasty or irregular meals, late supper, poor mastication etc. Besides all these causes most of the yoga authors   claim that behind poor digestion is the inability of the mind to digest the situation of life and to metabolize the problems correctly. You must have noticed yourself that when you are experiencing digestive problems, you tend to be pessimistic and easily irritated; conversely a healthy digestive system allows one to be cheerful, happy and optimistic. Yoga is the key to a relaxed, efficient, harmonious, digestive system. A strong digestive system means energy and vitality. It reflects a positive life style.

Signs and Symptoms:

The general symptoms are heart burn, headache, heaviness in the stomach, irregularity of bowels, cold feet, weak pulse. In long standing cases there will be a hacking cough, intermittent fever, palpitation of the heart and irritability.

Specific Disorders:

Hypoacidity, hyper acidity, regurgitation, heart burn, wind, belching and burping.

Chronic Disorders:

Peptic ulcer, duodenal ulcer, colitis, constipation, acute gastro enteritis, mal absorption states the sprue, whipple diseases and ceoliac diseases, chronic hepatitis.

Yogic Management Of The Disorders:

Medical science and yoga both agree that most of the digestive disorders are psychosomatic.  Experiments have shown that the lining of the stomach is an extremely sensitive recorder of our emotional state. Physiologists now recognize that emotional tension and psychic stress factors, including high level of frustration are related to the digestive organs and glands via the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve pathways. So, the first way of managing the digestive disorders is deep relaxation, which can only be attained through asana, pranayam, dhyana and yoga nidra.

Recommended Asans For Digestive Problems:

Abdominal group of asanas like.

  • Uthanpadasana
  • Chakrapadasana
  • Supta pawanmuktasana
  • Padasanchalanasana
  • Supta udarakarsanasana

 

Shakti bandha series like Chakki sanchalanasana, gatyatmak meru Vakrasana etc. Surya namaskar is very beneficial for digestive system. Sitting in Vajrasana at least 10 minutes after food is highly recommended for digestive disorders.

Pranayam- Kapalbhati, Nadisodhan, sheetali, ujjayi are recommended. Deep relaxation techniques like savasana, yoga nidra, meditation should be adopted.

No digestive problem can be cured 100% without the yogic shatkriyas. So sankhaprakhyalana, kunjal kriya, agnisara kriya, nauli, jala neti and basti practices have to be adopted. Whatever yogic practices one needs to adopt should be learnt  under the guidance of an experienced qualified therapist as the therapy is given to the patient taking into  account  all problems of the patient as a whole. The program has to b personalized to get maximum benefit out of it.

 

 

 

Feeding The Fire:

 

Food is the fuel for the digestive fire and therefore must be pure, well combined and in correct quantity. The amount of food one needs to eat depends on one’s digestive power. We must discover our own capacity and set ourselves a standard amount to eat at each meal. Few people however can stop eating at the point of satisfaction or little sort of it. Constantly eating beyond this point vitiates the digestive fire. Undigested food is worse than no food and becomes a detriment to our health.

One must judiciously take a well balanced food comprising of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals according to their personal need. By understanding the qualities of food we are eating, we can manipulate and adjust the body’s function in the same way as we would the control on a gas stove. So, most of the digestive disorders and many more diseases can be eradicated if we consult a good dietician.

There are some other practices which should be followed strictly for the proper functioning of the digestive system.

  • Always drink plenty of water. Preferably in the morning drink 3-4 glasses of Luke warm water. Water in the morning is nectar, water during meal is poison, water after digestion is tonic. This principle should be followed.
  • Never overload your stomach. We all know that after an excessively large meal we feel heaviness in the abdomen and lethargy throughout the whole body. Overloading the stomach and intestine results in loss of energy rather than gain. Blood is redirect from the vain and other organs to aid in the process of digestion, leaving most of the body with only the minimum supply of oxygen and nutrients.

A light meal of grains and vegetables is sufficient for the body’s physical needs and helps the pranic level high. Many people thinks that the energy comes from food, so tasty dishes are prepared for the sick person to induce him to eat. This attitude fails to take into account the fact that one of the first sign of sickness is loss of appetite, a natural warning triggered to help nature’s repair work. Therefore during illness we should reduce the intake of food to minimum to facilitate the repair work of the body. When bacteria invade the body the immune system is mobilized. All available energy is required and therefore physical activity should be avoided. Eating requires a lot of metabolic energy and this energy must be kept in reserve for fighting the disease. Fasting during illness speeds up the catabolic process which occurs in illness, thereby helping to eliminate toxins. Timing of one’s food intake according to yogic philosophy is  from sunrise to sunset when the pingala nadi is active our digestive organs work properly. As petrol is to a car so is the food for our body. When we are ready for activation in the morning we need more food to work. So the breakfast must be  nutritious one comprising of all the nutrients. One should not miss the breakfast as it creates a lot of health problems. In yoga it is said one should eat in the morning like a emperer, lunch like a king and dinner like a pauper. The dinner should be before sunset, as after sunset idanadi dominates which is not meant for the digestion rather it induces the whole system for relaxation.

In the modern urban society it is a general practice to skip breakfast as all are in a hurry and overload the stomach at late night and then go to sleep. Which is very detrimental to our health. There should be a minimum gap of 2hours between our last meal and sleep.

Last but not the least a relaxed mind and good hunger is essential for good digestion. A worried, anxious, depressed and anger state of mind is probably the main cause of indigestion. Enjoy your food without becoming attached to any one way that you think is right rather experience all and fulfill your desire. One thing yoga suggest that you remain aware of what are you doing. Watch what is happening to your body and mind when you eat meat, rich food or when you eat excessively. Then you will know for yourself what is right thing to eat and no neurosis and misunderstanding will arise.

Reference is taken from the book “Yogic Management Of Digestive System”(A Bihar school of yoga publication).

Hatha Yoga Shatkarma Neti

Hatha yoga pradipika by Swami swatmarama is a very well known text in Sanskrit. In this text swami swatmarama does not worry at all about self control and self discipline in the form of yama and niyama. He begins by saying that you should purify the whole body ,the stomach, intestine, nervous system and other system. Therefore shatkarma comes first that is Neti, Dhauti, basti, kapalbhati, trataka and nauli. So, hatha yoga is also known as the science of purification, not one, but six.

The aim of hatha yoga is to create harmony between the two major pranic flows, ida and pingala. To attain that harmony shatkarmas are used to expel the three doshes or humours of the body, bata(wind), pitta(bile), kapha(mucus). According to hatha yoga and ayurveda an imbalance of the doshes create illness.

When you clear the body of these impurities, the nadis function and energy blocks are released. Then the energies move like wave frequencies throughout the channels within the physical structure moving right up to the brain.

Hatha yoga is considered as the preliminary practice of tantra, raja yoga, kundalini yoga, kriya yoga. When the rishis discovered the science of hatha yoga, they did not have yoga therapy in mind. Although yoga and yogic shatkarmas are scientifically proved to be beneficial in many incurable diseases. The therapeutic effect of yoga is only a byproduct and incidental. We know matter in its ultimate form is energy, then this physical body can be transformed into solid energy through the systematic practice of the six cleansing process.

The most important thing one must be aware of is these powerful techniques are to be learned not from any text books or from TV but should be learned under the guidance of a qualified and experienced yoga therapist. Among the six purification processes Neti is considered to be the most beneficial, practical form of process, which each and everyone can practice without any negative effects. Only those persons who have severe nasal bleeding & suffering from ear perforation should not practice Jal Neti. But first time one must learn from an expert teacher.

Neti

Neti is of different type, Jala Neti, mutra neti, ghrita neti, dugdha neti, sutra neti. Among these most practical and easier one is jala neti.All types of neti is having the same effect except sutra neti is useful in rectifying the problem of deviated nasal septrum.

Jala neti-(The preparation)

The most important thing is one should take pure water(bacteria free) for the preparation of the solution. A special neti lota or pot is required. The water should be at body temperature and thoroughly mixed with salt in the proportion of one teaspoonful per half litre of water. The addition of salt ensures the osmotic pressure of the water is equal to that of the body fluids which minimizes the irritation of the mucus membrane. If a painful or burning sensation is felt it is an indication that there is either too little or too much salt in the water. It is generally recommended to use Hypertonic Saline water as it considered being a Mucoactive agent and easily hydrates thick Mucosal secretion. To prepare a hypertonic saline solution at home use 7 gms of common salt/ 100 ml of water (approx. 3 heap full in a litre of water).

Practical tips-

It can be done in sitting position or in standing position near a basin, but the method should be learned from an expert teacher.

If water does not flow from one nostril to other nostril it is an indication of physical, mental or psychic blockage of the nasal cavity or if there is any physical deformity like nasal septum deviation. If there is blockage due to cold and cough or some other reason we still continue the practice by just holding the pot in the nostril for some time. Then after half an hour if you practice it again you may find the blockage is opening slowly and the water is coming out drop by drop. To open up the severe blockage one need to have patience to practice again and again for some days until the passage opens completely. In normal condition we need only 5 minutes for nasal irrigation.

Jala neti can be performed at any time except just after taking food. It is better option to do jala neti after coming back from outing. The most important practice of jala neti is drying the nose. If it is not dried properly one may develop the symptom of cold and there may be headache. So it should be learned from expert guidance. Generally kapalbhati, bhastrika, sasanka asana or pada hastasana is performed before completing the process.

Therapautic Use of Jala Neti

Jala neti is highly therapeutic in nature and it is beneficial in almost all psychosomatic diseases. According to medical science 89% diseases are psychosomatic diseases. The obvious, visible benefits are noticed in almost all allergic diseases respiratory diseases and ear, nose and throat problems. It encompasses innumerable diseases many of them have no cure in medical science and treated symptomatically having a lot of side effects on the body. Jala neti is a boon for the patients suffering from colds, coughs, allergic rhinitis hay fever, Catarrh, tonsillitis, asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis ,inflammation of the adenoids, epilepsy, migraine, pulmonary tuberculosis. It also gives resistance to various diseases of the ears, eyes and throat, such as myopia, tension headache due to eye, strain. Certain cases of deafness such as glue ears and middle ear infection and it inhibits the formation of nasal polyps. Mouth breathing in children leading to poor memory, concentration and development is overcome by neti. Neti relieves muscular tension of the face and helps maintain facial youth and freshness. It releases emotional tension and is beneficial in depression, hysteria.

The practice of neti involves our nose which is the main part of our breathing system. On the physical level irrigation of the nasal mucus removes accumulated mucus from the nostril, associated passage and sinus, allowing air to flow without obstruction. The air conditioning system of our body is inside the nose. The above mentioned diseases are due to the malfunction of the system. Jala neti ensures the correct functioning of this mechanism in our body. It is perhaps the most important nerve centers of our body which corresponds to ajnachakra (The Command Centre). The nerve fibers are not only include the fibers of the olfactory nerve responsible for the sense of smell but also numerous other autonomic fibers which relay information to the brain about the inflowing breath. Not only smell but also environmental temperature, humidity and allergens in the air are all sensed by the nose as inflowing breath is drawn across this mucus membrane.

Neti exerts a relaxing and irrigation effect upon the eyes by stimulating the tear ducts and glands. The frontal lobes of the cerebrum responsible for the higher mental faculties begin to function optimally. Integration of the higher mental faculties leads to genius intuition, creativity and so on.

According to yogi Swatmarama, performing neti leads to divya drishti. Divya drishti is faculty of clairvoyance which manifest with the awakening of ajnachakra. It is a faculty of the higher intuitive mind or the third eye. The practice of neti said to stimulate ajnachakra remove its blockages and bring it into fuller functioning.

-By Bhagawati

(Reference is taken from Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati)

One may refer the paper on Neti research

Reasearch – Tomooka, lance T, Clair, Murphy and Terence M, Davidson Clinical study and literature review.

Depression and Yoga

Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood and thought. It a one feels affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one thinks about things. People with depressive illness can’t merely pull themselves together and get better. Depression is a stress related illness. It is the most common illness most people suffer at some time of their life. One in six women and one in nine men suffer from depression. Depression does not always have a definite cause and can strike suddenly. It is related to stress, mostly emotional and if you are under stress for a long period you are likely to become depressed. Your depression may start with a feeling of being under the weather. When depression begins you feel low, your self esteem falls and you lose your motivation. Procrastination sets in and you feel worst. This is the start of a spiral downwards.

Depression disorders come in different forms just as is the case with other illness such as heart diseases. When we hear the word “depression” the first thing that comes to our mind is sadness. Depression is a state of sadness.

  1. Simple depression- it lasts for short time and can be treated easily.
  2. Major depression (MD) – it is the form of depression which is of grave concern for the family members of the patient. It is also called clinical depression. Major depression is a mental condition characterized by severe state of sadness or melancholy that has reached the point of hindering a person from functioning well socially. Episodes of MD may occur suddenly or gradually and usually lasts several months. It is common for episodes to recur and suicide is the major risk. MD is currently leading cause of disability in North America as well as in other countries and expected to become the second leading cause of disability worldwide by year 2020 according to WHO
  3. Dysthymia- this is long term depression that lasts for at least two years. Its symptoms are the same but not as intense as those of MD, although people who suffer from dysthymia are also prone to major depression.
  4. Bipolar depression- This is characterized by mood swings that go from depression to mania (extremely elevated mood) and vice versa.
  5. Post Partum Depression- This is experienced by women sometime in the first two years after giving birth as a result of physical, mental and emotional fatigue. This type of depression must be treated immediately as it deters the mother from being with her new born baby.
  6. Seasonal affective disorder (SAS)- Also known as winter depression. A person who has SAD possesses normal health condition throughout the year but suffers from depression during winter.

In this article we will deal with the case of major depression, which as mentioned above is the major cause of suicide.

Signs and Symptoms-

–          Persistent sad, anxious or empty mood

–          Loss of appetite and/or weight loss or over eating and weight gain.

–          Insomnia, early morning awakening or oversleeping.

–          Restlessness or irritability

–          Feeling of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt, helplessness

–          Feeling of hopelessness, pessimism.

–          Difficulty in thinking, concentrating, remembering or making decisions.

–          Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts.

–          Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed including sex.

–          Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling sluggish.

–          Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment such as head ache, digestive disorders and chronic pain.

The cause of MD can’t be narrowed down to a single factor. However it appears that brain chemistry plays a major role in the disorder. Brain chemicals called neurotransmitters convey messages b/w nerves. Too many or too few neurotransmitters particularly nor epinephrine, serotonin and dopamine are believed to cause alternation in mood but root cause of brain chemistry disorder is due to stress specifically emotional and mental like death of a loved one, divorce, death of a parent, issue with biological development, school related problems, abandonment or rejection, neglect, chronic illness, physical, psychological or sexual abuse can also increase likelihood of depression later in life. Job loss, poverty, financial difficulties, gambling addiction, eating disorders, long periods of unemployment, loss of spouse or any family members, rape, inability to have proper sex, premature ejaculation, other traumatic events, long term stress at home may trigger MD. Unrealistic or unreachable expectations or life goals or major obstacles to life goals and expectation may increase risk of MD. 

 

The major risk of MD is suicide. According to National Mental Health Association suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents and second leading cause of death in collage going youth. It is believed that most of the suicide victims suffer from untreated depression.

 

Treatment-

–          Psychotherapy or talk therapy. Some people with milder forms may do well psychotherapy alone.

–          Medication: Medicines include antidepressants. It may include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These antidepressants increase the level of serotonin in brain. Tri cyclic antidepressant alters the level of several chemicals in brain. Monamin oxidase inhibitors are also used for depression patients.

–          Electro-convulsive therapy- It is a procedure in which an electric current is used to produce a seizure in the patient.

–          Vogal nerve stimulation- It is devised to treat adult patients with long term or recurrent MD.

–          Alternative treatment- It aims at reducing stress by providing forms of relaxation and relief thereby bringing about general health and well being. Alternative therapy includes acupuncture, guided imagery, zero chiropractic treatments, yoga, hypnosis, bio feedback, aroma therapy, relaxation, herbal remedies, massage and many others.

By now this must be clear that medication can’t be sole treatment for depression. Despite the fact that medication works by providing relief by suppressing the effects of depression, but fails to provide cure for sole cause of it. So medication must be complimented with some sort of treatment that will aid it by answering the cause. As depression is stress related disorder it can’t only be treated with medication. Medication is greatly useful in severe form of depression. It just lifts the person from severe agony for time being. No doctors will advice his patient to rely only on medicine. They will surely advice you to follow other methods like exercise to come out of serious situation quickly. Besides that there are some drawbacks of anti depressants like nausea, sudden and severe head ache, stiff neck, rapid heartbeat and palpitation, confusion and sweating. Anti depressants may be monitored closely for unusual changes in behavior. Exercise has shown to have positive antidepressant effects in individuals. While medication can help to improve depressive symptom it can’t change the events, thoughts or behaviour that are problematic or distressing for a patient. For some people MD may not be preventable. A healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and exercise and strong social and interpersonal relations may help.

Now we come to Yoga. What it can do to a depression patient. Though some doctors advise yoga with medication but a yoga therapist knows it is a complete therapy in itself. In allopathic treatment along with medication counseling is said to be the main course of the treatment. As it is a stress related problem the root cause starts from close environment of patient. But often it happens, the close relatives of the patient are unable to understand the problem of the patient rather than aggravate the situation. The role of near and dear ones is very important for the patient to overcome the situation. But often it doesn’t happen so. For this reason some patients commit suicide. It is a traumatic situation which the near and dear one has to handle carefully. If the patient gets support from environment he or she may overcome the situation in no time, though this happens rarely. In this situation yoga helps the patient in such a way that the attitude of the patient changes automatically. How?

According to Yogic philosophy what happens during stress? When we come under stress the first attack is on our nervous system. The autonomous nervous system comes under severe attack. Then what happens? Our breathing pattern changes, it becomes shallow and unrhythmic, respiration rate changes drastically. As the breathing pattern changes it attacks the endocrine system of the body, natural imbalance of these is hormonal imbalance in our body and mind. Because of hormonal imbalance some toxins are produced in body and mind. The toxins that are produced in the body are acid, gas and mucus. Toxins of mind are negative thoughts, distraction and ignorance. In terms of Yogic philosophy negative thoughts are produced by over dominance of any of the six demons residing inside us . They are kama(lust), krodha(anger), lobha(greed), moha(infatuation), abhimana(pride) and mada(arrogance). In case of depression mostly over dominance of kama and moha over the mind is the cause. So in first step of yoga therapy we purify body and mind through shatkarmas (purification process) by reducing excessive toxins in body. Then we adopt various asanas(postures). Asanas are synonymous with exercise but with more benefit. In Hatha Yoga breathing is the main thing we practise. By correcting the breathing pattern we control the nervous system. The asanas are specially designed in such a way that it supply sufficient amount of oxygenated blood to the organ which is under attack, the brain. In case of depression those asanas are adapted which induces sufficient blood supply to the brain as well as all parts of body like.

  1. The Sun salutation
  2. Bow pose
  3. Corpse pose
  4. Maha mudra
  5. Plough pose
  6. Shoulder stand
  7. Bajrasana

In case of depression we call the prana(vital energy) has become very weak. According to Yogic philosophy prana, the vital energy or the current is responsible for all work carried out in our body, without it not a single part of the body or mind functions. In case of depression the voltage of this energy is so low that it is unable to run the machineries inside us. Our consciousness and mind all which requires oxygen and in that sense oxygen and prana can be considered equivalent. It plays essential role in all chemical and metabolic processes in body right down to the level of DNA. When that prana is weak it attacks the mind, it is distracted to such an extent that it doesn’t come under control. Through the practice of pranayam we bring the mind under control because prana and mind are two sides of same coin. One can control prana by controlling the mind and vice versa. But controlling prana through pranayama is easiest way which everyone can do and can control the mind. But it is very difficult to control the mind and thereafter control the prana.

Ujjayi pranayama is said to be more beneficial for depression than other pranayams including bhasttrika, suryabhedi pranayam, kapalbhati and nadisodhan. But a systematic and correct practise of pranayama under guidance of a guru will help the patient most. Adoption of some mudras, bandhas, yoganidra and meditation are helpful to some patients. Only a therapist can judge which are most beneficial to a patient. To get maximum benefit one must practise under the guidance of a qualified therapist.

The other form of yoga called as mantra yoga has great effect over the mind. Both medical science and yoga believe in counseling which is must for depression patients. In yoga we call it satsanga which is easily available now days in TV. In western countries there are sufficient counseling centre for these patients but in India counseling centers are very few. But Satsanga is easily available, it helps to change ones attitude towards life. It teaches one the art of living in all adverse situations.

Lastly, I’ll say that depression is a disorder which can attack any person at any time, no matter how strong one may be. Regular practice of Asanas and Pranayam prevents occurrence of depression and with time cures depression also. Those depression patients who are in medication for long period have to gradually reduce their medication in consultation with the doctor.

From our history we know Abraham Lincon, Wilson Churchill, Queen Victoria also suffered from depression. We also know that that the Hindu mythology Gita is the outcome of depression. When Arjun was in severe depression Lord Krishna counseled and taught all forms of Yoga. It is obvious that from Mahabharata era counseling is the first form of treatment for depression. In Ramayana era also we know King Dashratha died of depression.

In Yoga sutras, Rishi Patanjali states that our inner obstacles create a mental distraction which in turn leads to Daur Manasya, depression. These inner obstacles can be removed by the practice of yogic techniques asanas, pranayama and meditation. Besides that light therapy, message, change of environment may be adopted for further benefit.