Jun 20, 2017

Do yoga. Remain blessed!


Today the entire Rishikesh has become a yoga city. In fact, after the UN made June 21 as the International Yoga Day and Indian PM Modi pushed it to the large public space, yoga is being 'celebrated' throughout the globe on this day.

Today also happens to be the biggest day in the northern hemisphere and smallest in the southern half.

Sitting here in my one-room hut, I have been shown thousands of pictures and videos of yoga being practised in different ways. While it gives joy to see that people are adopting this - even as an exercise - which will lead to better health habits among people. But the pain comes alive when I see yoga being wrongly done. People falling in the lap of crooks trying to make money by fooling the gullible in the name of yoga. But, at least on this day, let me dwell on this sore point.

Let all of us attain good health and peace of mind. Let all of us be led towards the ultimate bliss. As it is said in Sanskrit:

Tamasorma jyotirgamay.  Let us move from darkness to light.

Jun 10, 2017

Control blood pressure the natural way with yoga

Yoga has been proved to be very effective in checking hypertension. The claims of traditional yogis have been minutely scrutinized and validated through research.

I will start with what has been proved and what not. Some prominent findings are:
  • Yoga-asanas have been found to be reducing overall stress.
  • Certain pranayamas have been found to be especially beneficial in bringing blood pressure to normal levels.
  • Some mudras (= finger patterns) have been found to be very effective.
  • When done unscientifically (especially when done very fast), certain asanas and pranayamas have been seen to raise blood pressure but when the same procedures are done correctly, they have been found beneficial in reducing blood pressure.
  • Too much bending asanas and asanas in which head is lowered below heart level must be done carefully, as these might lead to physical and physiological changes not suitable to many. Some of these might lead to unnaturally high blood flow into brain.
  • Bending of neck by unusual degrees might lead to symptoms akin to high BP, and it might actually  hurt some nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and joints.
  • All forms of BP, including genetic, has been seen to be calming down with regular practice of specific yoga procedures.
  • Mudras act like acupressure. Interestingly, in this study, just squeezing the middle finger from bottom to tip is found to reduce blood pressure by a good degree. 
  • Yoga does not work like medicine. It does not force the body to block certain biochemical or neuro-chemical reactions or dilate blood vessels temporarily or fool certain organs to behave in a different way. It helps in bringing back the abnormal body-chemistry to normal. So, it is more effective as part of lifestyle change.
  • It is not advisable to immediately stop BP medicine when feeling good. Sometimes the high BP is sticky but joining a yoga class has a placebo effect and people feel good without enough good effect on the system. 
Now, let's come to the yoga exercises that control BP.

Shavasana (= dead-body pose)

This is daddy of all yoga-asanas. You just lie down on a rug, with face up. Relax your body to the extent that you can feel the breath. Your head, arms and legs find their relaxed positions as if you were dead. Take breath naturally. Keep your mind free from worries. If you are unable to stop your mind from thinking, let it think that you are getting healed; healed because God (or whatever you believe to be your supreme benefactor) wishes it that way. Lying in shavasana for 3-5 minutes a day relieves tension and brings the blood pressure back to normal. But it alone may not cure you of high BP if you do not do other yogic exercises and follow a healthy lifestyle.

Anulom-vilom pranayama (taking breath alternatively from the two nostrils, one at a time)

This is a simple pranayama, described here in more details.

Apan Vayu mudra 

To do this mudra, keep your palm straight and open, bend the first finger (= index finger) to that it presses the base of thumb, keep the little finger straight, press the thumb with the other (2nd and 3rd) fingers.

Practise this mudra for a total of about 15 minutes in a day with both hands. This mudra is supposed to be beneficial to the heart in many other ways.

Jun 5, 2017

Stupid yoga!

Yogis knew it. Not that they have supernatural powers, but they knew that Bikram of Hot Yoga would one day invite trouble for himself. But it has come a bit late, like most karmic penalties.

The way Bikram bent yoga for earning money from a gullible western audience was a remarkable marketing feet indeed. But that too was not unpredictable; people are known to believe all sorts of half-truths and magic potions, and that fills the coffers of people who post videos on fat reduction or libido enhancement.

The list of stupid types of 'yoga' is increasing by the day. The other day, we heard of goat yoga in which a goat or piglet is made to sit on top of guys twisting their bodies like bonsai. We already had dog yoga, kitten yoga, noga (nude yoga), poga (a type of water yoga), beer yoga and what not.

Friends, YOGA is a cleansing and healing regimen, not an entertainment. It is also not twisting your bodies or making them do things beyond your capacity. And believe it, yoga - or its popular procedures, ASANAS and PRANAYAMAS, cannot be a cure-all. It has its limits. It cannot, for example, save a dying cancer patient, can it?

ASANAS and PRANAYAMAS, which are the most rudimentary of yogic exercises, are for cleansing the system for higher level of practices with the ultimate aim towards yoga (=joining) with nature and the ultimate truth. How can these be practised with beer or being nude?

Dear friends, do not be fooled by these ugly forms of psychic mixtures of myth and fraud. They might lead to harm rather than yielding good to body, mind and soul.