....A progression towards another reality....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Why this Kolaveri di? Anger and Disease

This article explores “anger” as a mental pathogen. It is probably as dangerous to the body if not more, as all the deadly viruses and bacteria known to us. Let’s understand a few concepts first.

What is disease? In plain simple words,Lack of ease! “Ease” depicts both simultaneously, the state of mind – freedom from anxiety, concern, worry, tension, agitation, constraint etc. and the state of body – freedom from pain, labour, physical annoyance or irritability etc. Clearly, “ease” is both, a physical as well as a mental phenomenon.

In an era where stress has become pandemic, mind is recognized as the seat of most of the ailments. This has been known to us in India through ages but is today accepted even in the Western world.

According to Yoga Vasistha,disease or Vyadhi can be classified into two categories, Adhijavyadhi (the psychosomatic or stress borne diseases) and Anadhijavyadhi (psychosomatic, non- stress borne diseases).
Non-psychosomatic diseases have an external cause like injury, accident, infection, pollution etc., these need to be, and are usually treated quite efficiently with medicines, surgery, nutritional supplements and physiotherapy.

Psychosomatic diseases on the other hand are caused due to strong emotional reactions based on subjective likes and dislikes, attachments or repulsions, raga and dvesha. So, these are rooted in the mind. The Psychosomatic diseases are further divided into two categoriesSaraand Samanya. The formerrefers tothe health conditions that are present by birth like developmental anomalies and congenital diseases. These, according to ancient Indian belief system are due to Karma and can be overcome only with self-realization. The second category psychosomatic diseases “Samanya” are acquired during one’s lifetime due to one’s emotional reactions like anger, fear, jealousy, guilt, humiliation, obsession etc. to various stressors like conflicts, deaths, adversities, occupational targets, expectations, adaptation difficulties, peer pressure etc.

A disturbed mind or a stressed mindis one of the leading causes for generating, precipitating and aggravatingcardiovascular conditions, auto-immune disorders, gastro-intestinal disorders, depression, anxiety, musculoskeletal aches and pains etc. Many symptoms of such problems can be and should be alleviated through medication especially in acute situations, but long-term prevention or cure is possible only when the mind is addressed.

“Anger” is one of the biggest mental-stressors. One can most definitely feel the blood pressure rising along with anger. In fact, anger in one form or the other is a mental root to many healthconditions.
Auto-immune disorders could be translated as the natural intelligence of the body gone wrong or the memory cells of the immune system getting confused making the body attack itself.

Bhagavad Gita states something similar:

Krodhaatbhavatisammohaha, sammohatsmrutivibramaha.
Smrutibramshaatbuddhinaashaha, buddhinaashaatpranashyati (Ch-II, 63)

Anger leads to delusion which confuses memory. When memory is confounded, it attacks intelligence, when intelligence is lost, the man falls down.   

Anger translates itself into auto-immune disorder at the mental level. From the mind, the disorder percolates into the body. In her book,You can heal your life, Louise L. Hay suggests that the leading cause for cancer is deep-seated resentment.

We also attack ourselves through constant anger against ourselves in forms of self-criticism, self-hatred, cursing one-self. The body only concurs with the mind by attacking itself in return.Louise L. Hay traces the roots of Arthritis and many other inflammatory disorders “itis” to the feeling of being “inflamed with anger”.

Jealousy, traditionally referred to as the “Green Eyed Monster”is another form of continuous anger.The Greeks associated jealousy with excessive production of bile (a greenish liquid produced by the liver). Popularly, anger is described as “Bile rising in the throat”. Well the bile does rise, leading to digestive distress and potential damage to the lining of stomach and oesophagus.

Many of us hold “Anger”. Buddha describes anger as a hot-coal held in the hand with the intention of throwing it at someone! A hot coal held for long only burns the entire hand.

With a bit of observation one can easily trace these correlations. If any of these hold true for you then “Why this Kolaveri di?”If you cannot avoid getting angry (like myself) at least cease to hold on to it.

To health and Wellness!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Yoga For Weight Loss: My Experiments With The 100 Suryanamaskars

My Dear Readers

I personally experiment with as many popular theories (my profession related) as I can. For those who are still unclear about “What I do”, please look up the previous blogs. I have decided to share some of my experiences andachievements as well as my mistakes and short-comings.

Suryanamaskar – a rhythmic series of various yogic postures is the most complete and holistic form of exercise. It simultaneously works on the over-all stamina and the flexibility of the entire body without making one go out of breath. The known benefits of practicing suryanamaskars include regulation of digestion, menstrual cycle, sleep-pattern, metabolism, weight, stress response and an improved skin tone and memory. Weight Loss, Fat Loss and Inch Loss however remain the most sought benefits.

Due to all the hype about “size-zero figure - the 100 -Suryanamaskar remedy” and a zillion questions from clients, patients and colleagues, I decided to put the theory to test (2010).

Having been a yoga student, therapist and practitioner for almost 10 years, I had the pre-requisites - a flexible body, a good stamina and a kind of consistency in my practice of yoga in its various aspects. Also, being well-aware of my nutritional needs, my diet till date usually consists of 1800-1900 calories per day. Being 5ft 5 inches in height, 58 kilos in weight and with a BMI (body mass index) of 21.2 kg/m2, my aim was to come down to 50 kilos so that my BMI would be close to the size zero BMI of 18 kg/m2

The golden rule of yogic practices is to go about them slowly and steadily. I started with my warm-up, stretching routine and on the first day itself I found it quite easy to do about 36 suryanamaskars continuously. By the end of the first month I could maintain the continuity for 50. By the end of 50 suryanamaskars I would be drenched in sweat but never out of breath. Doing 50 wasn’t really a big deal anyway. During my Masters’ training we used to practice 4-7 sets (12 suryanamaskars = 1set) but not in continuity. We also maintained many yogasanas, each for at least 2 minutes if not longer. 

Anyway, by the end of the second month, I built stamina for 65 suryanamaskars at a stretch. After that I found myself pushing harder for every extra-suryanamaskar. I remember the day I hit 75 and experienced a peculiar strain in my back. My back strain surfaced time and again. More often than not I would find it hard to persist beyond 60 – 65. I used to practice 5 days a week on an average. Whenever I took a break for a day or two, I found it easier to do suryanamaskars. By the end of the 3rd month, I had lost 2 kilos but I had also started to feel washed out after my yogasana practice. I took week’s break.

In the meantime, I came across an extra-ordinary yoga practitioner from Poland, who was pursuing PhD in physical education. He was55 years of age then, didn’t look a day older than 40. He told me that he could do 1008 suryanamaskars at a go, in 2 hours 50 minutes. He demonstrated over 150 suryanamaskars in about 25 minutes before my eyes. Although I found it hard to believe that he could do 1008 (isn’t that a little over the top?), but the ease with which he performed 150 or so, was quite incredible. He also told me how, at once, he had been almost obsessive about attaining Padmasana (the lotus pose) and ended up with broken knees and a year of rehabilitation.

I noticed that as this gentleman increased his speed post 10thsuryanamaskar or so, he switched to moderate stretching while bending forward and during spinal extensions. I adapted this in my practice and managed 80 suryanamaskars without back-strain. Also, if I practiced sets of suryanamaskars rather than practicing them at a go, I could do 100 without any strain.

By the end of 4th month I remained 56 kilos. I did not lose any additional weight. I think one’s diet has an integral role to play if one wants to attain size zero. Probably one needs to go on a diet lower than 1800 Kcal. Being in one’s ideal weight range (BMI = 18.5 – 24.99 kg/m2), it becomes difficult to shed extra kilos for the “fashionablyideal” size zero target, by suryanamaskars alone. An overweight person can drop kilos and inches faster till a certain point, but to make the transition from medically ideal to fashionably ideal BMI definitely poses a challenge. Also, an overweight person with a background of sedentary lifestyle requires at least 6-8 months of regular yoga practice for significant changes in flexibility, weight and inch-loss.

So, I did not become size zero in 4 months. Maybe I needed to persist for longer. Probably I needed to couple suryanamskars with a different diet plan. Will keep you posted about my future experiments.
Until Then…..CIAO!!