Sunday, March 25, 2007

Know your body - Do's and Dont's -2

வாஸ்து பற்றி அறிவோமா?
Before we get on to "do's and dont's", I wish to tell you that I am reading a book on yoga practice (yogaabhyasam) written in 1938 by "Srimaan" Sundaram, a yoga therapist (yeh.. its my own translation..heehee..) cum doctor who had a yoga ashram even during pre-independence period. I am very much amazed at the knowledge and experience he had about the physiology of human beings and the possible diseases.

well...Lets continue with do's and don'ts.

Bath : Its okay to take bath before or after yoga practise. In cold countries, its okay to take bath in luke warm water and in countries like india, taking bath after yoga is better as stout and weak people tend to sweat after doing asanas.

Who shouldn't do yoga?? : People when suffering from fever, headache or any severe ailments, women during menstrual period are not supposed to practise yoga. People with weak heart and blood related problems have to consult a doctor before doing yoga to know which asanas can be allowed.

Prayer: Praying your favourite God before doing yoga is a good practice to focus your mind. Though asana practice ARE supposed to help us focus, trying voluntarily to focus our mind before yoga practice helps to maximum the benefits in a shorter span.

Food: Reducing the intake of chillies and tamarind gradually is important. Also, too much of seasoning, frying and heavy usage of asafoetida (perungaayam/ hing) should be avoided. We shall definitely discuss about food extensiviely in future.

Yoga and exercise - together ? : In general, people do exercises to get a toned muscular physique - broad chest and shoulders with 6 pac abs. etc. so that they can look and feel good. When such people get diseases, they can easily lose their physique that they gained out of exercise. It is necessary to have a strong, healthy foundation for internal body, organs and senses so that the muscles that are built through exercises over them can withstand even during times of illness. Basically, yoga practice increases the strength and activity of inner senses, inner organs, ductless glands and sexual organs, increases mental peace and longitivity of life.

So, people would want to do both exercise and yoga. People can do yoga in the morning and exercises during evening or vice-versa. Also, they can even do them on alternate days.
But, we should know that there should be a gap of atleast one hour between yoga and exercises/ atheletic workout. The reason is this: During or after yoga practice, blood sakthi is pulled to brain, organs and inner senses. When we do exercises related to external body, these worked-out inner organs/senses (by yoga) will not gain enough blood and lead to innumerable diseases.

Even the other way is bad. After running or weight training, doing yoga causes problems.
Story from yoga therapist Srimaan Sundaram:
A young man after his enthusiastic, athletic practice used to show off his ability, to stand up-side down with ease for 20 minutes, to his friends every now and then. Over a period, he developed some sort of nodule like thing on his head and that rolled down. Also, he developed tremors, headache etc and so, he was brought to yoga ashram to get treated. His activities were observed and he was warned to stop his athletic works and he was asked to do 'sarvangasanam alone' for a while and thereby he was cured.

When you think you can just do either one - yoga or exercise, its better to prefer yoga to exercise for the following reasons:

1. We dont need any special equipment to do yoga unlike exercises. ( Here in U.S, there is a fast pace-yoga practice which is yoga cum pilates. I dont mean that. I mean the relaxed asana practice)
2. We dont need to eat extremely nutritious food to practice yoga unlike exercises. ( Playing tennis, squash or doing weight training requires nutritious food). Even layman could afford it.
3. Yoga works on parasympathetic nervous system and exercise on sympathetic nervous system. Yoga acts directly on heart and lungs unlike exercises.
4. Yoga is energising and exercise is fatiguing.
5. The saints in india, who just lived by begging alms, stayed healthy just by doing yoga asanas.

Yeh, people with even parkinsons disease, diabetes and thyoid problems can gain their health and happiness back and rejoice ( I choose this word because I experience it) by yoga practice. Previously, people practice yoga as like pooja at home, later some did it as tradition or shastra and now its a profitable buisness abroad to give people a hope to decrease their ailment- My own experience !!

You might say me (like ace said)... Priya, there are very few yoga teachers now and is it not important to have a guru while doing yoga!! I had this question as well. Yeh!! even the great yoga therapist cum doctor Sriman sundaram had raised this issue in his book. Even during 1930's, it is common that when you raise the word " yoga", people say " Yoga has to be learnt only from a good guru.. otherwise dont even think about trying out". His answer is this " Though its true (that you need guru) to an extent, few lazy people take this as a strong objection and spoil others. Sukshma pranayama, some special kriyas and bandham need to be learned under guru. But, the basic asanas that regulate your breathing pattern can be practised by following a clearly written book (w/o guru). Its not wise to wait till you get a chance to find a yoga teacher and have a big tummy with inummerous diseases and above alll, the ignorance. If we use our brains and do sensible things, there shouldn't be any danger" .. Guys, I will assume that you are just following these posts and assure you that I will try to gather from different, authentic sources and give the best idea about each asana. Also , please share with me the ideas and knowledge that you have on these topics.

To be continued..

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Know your body - Do's and Dont's -1

Its time to take care of our body. Its time to take care of our internal organs that we cannot see. Its time to protect us and our progeny from all the innumerable diseases and complications. Its time to understand why we get such problems.. due to what? yeh!! Its time to try to acquire the ability to control our emotions, passions and mind!!

All we need to have are a ventilated place, an attitude to keep our body clean and an intention that " I will not abuse my body"

Okay, lets proceed to know about our body and learn yoga asanas to solve each problem. Before we exactly talk about each yogaasana, we shall know some basics to be followed to do yogaasanas. If you are a beginner and if you think its time to take care of your body, just follow along. I am a beginner too. Just 2 months ahead!! I will try to discuss about things that we might need to know in an order. Feel free to share your ideas, experience and knowledge !!

Morning or evening: Early in the morning, our body is stiff and people may find it tougher to do yoga when compared to evening. It is necessary to decide it is convenient to us. But we need to remember about food as well.

Before food : We need to do yogaasanas only before having food. If we know the reason behind this, we wont have problems in following this. When we eat, the food in the stomach is crunched forcefully by the muscles to digest. This process needs energy and blood circulation at the stomach and so, they are directed to the stomach. So, our brain and other parts are not so active during this time and thats why its better not to do any active work after eating.If such physical work is done, our food stays partly digested with poor blood and energy ciruculation like a mixture of "water and rice" in a gutter and such partly digested food is removed from body leading to many diseases. Also, practising yoga during such times will weaken muscles and cause to loose strength.

Right before an exam, we can see students eating heavy food and planning to burn midnight oil. Infact, he would have cups of tea and try to study. But Nidra devi will hug him and take him to sleep. Also, people who do exercises (non yoga) also eat something simultaneously to gain energy to lift weight and stuff... But its is wrong and its better not to eat anything during activity
We can do physical exercise (non yoga which works on superficial muscles ) 2 hrs after eating snacks and 4 hrs after heavy food. It is believed that it takes 5-6 hrs for the food to get absorbed from the intestine. By yoga practice, we crunch stomach, liver and intestine and this helps to remove the waste faster out from the intestine and the body as well. So its better that we eat 6hrs before performing yoga . Otherwise the partly digested food also will get along with waste out from the intestine. Then, there is no point in us eating nutritious food and we may have unnecessarily used our internal organs to work.

During evening time, there may be friends/ visitors or unexpected committments and we may tend to eat something as soon as we get home. Thus, it makes sense that we can do yoga in the morning easily with empty stomach. If you still want to do during evening, you can eat some fruits or veggies before 4 hrs. Its better to drink a glass of water right after brushing teeth. People who have higher bile levels (hyperbilirubinemia) can get fainted and they can drink a cup of milk and start yoga after 1/2 hr till they get to normalcy.

To loose stiffness: In the morning, we can get up and relax for 1/2 hr (say like read a book, do some work or cook or just walk for a while - something that works out well for us ) to reduce stiffness before doing yoga asanas.

To be continued....

Monday, March 12, 2007

Know your body -1

விபூதி எத்தனை வகைப்படும் தெரியுமா?
Everybody wants some sort of happiness....Karmayogis who work for the welfare of others without expecting anything in return wants some sort of happiness that is permanent or stable.. any common man who still has cunningness, revengeful attitude etc. looks for something that gives temporary happiness (after any act )..Every man tries something out and sees if it gives happiness and satisfaction or not and kindaa selects things that give happiness..Any achievement that we make using our body always had been linked to the pathway (by our ancestors) that leads to understanding our soul and self.

We all would have heard from great sages that our happiness is within us. If we stop thinking about our external problems/passions, we can hear the inner self. I have never understood it till date though I remember what I heard.May be thats because we all have thought that "I am not born to become spiritual" or "I dont think I can do it". Okay !! please dont think that I am talking too much philosophical.. I am tellling all this to reemphasize the fact that our ancestors had kept their body in good shape not because they wanted to show that they can have a roadroller roll on them but to get into the spiritual path. Even people who did not want to get too much spiritual, need body strength to achieve their goals through strong determination (mind).

Right from childhood, we always study, get a degree and a job. I have heard stories from one of my friends,vino, who has a big agricultural land about how his father would take him, make him work in fields.what all he would do whenever he gets bored with studying (though they are THE landlords of that area). Do you think WE will have the strength to do such work when by chance we are out of our studies / job. Many of us have loose flabby fatty muscles, weak bones, poor ball and socket joints. Some of us even have problems such as wheezing, dust allergy, sinus. What does all this crap mean?? I hardly ever heard these problems from my parents generation ..How come we all got so sick?? Our parents/ grandparents who struggled hard economically have made us focus to study and thereby did they spoil our health by not making us do much physical activity. No... we cannot just blame them.. its also the techie advancements that made us sedentary.

Apart from that, are most people who always worked physically, free of health problems? True to an extent but not always true. Whatever it is, the thing that I see in our generation and a generation before is this. We spend so much time and energy to make money, gain knowledge, wisdom and give happiness to our people around. Do we ever bother about our body and our constantly thinking mind!! They are supposed to work for us always like our eyes. Only a blind man will know how much an eye is of use!!

People realize it only when they get to a stage with disease(s) and/or ailment(s) and they become incapable of eating the food that they bought with the hard earned money. I too realized it only after suffering. I had developed some sort of back pain since last few months. In the beginning, I stayed quiet and later went to a doctor..When the doctors here and in India felt that everything is normal with my spine bones and body except that they is a muscle pull and told me to observe my body and change my lifestyle, thats when I thought about my body and mind. Till date I have not clearly understood the nature of our body and its functions and I am working on such a seemingly subtle but undiscovered problem with body.

During this time, I have gained many things out of which the foremost thing is I have attempted to understand our physiology and gained little success with exercise and yoga. The next is I have understood much of the flaws that I have in me and the third is I have understood the importance of yoga asanas and how it works.

Yeh, you might also say that the physiology is still so fascinating and much is not discovered.. Its a puzzle and so its normal to not understand. But tell me this.. what is the knowledge that a common man has about physiology. We try to know how our cell phone works, how the share market inflation changes etc. etc.. But do we ever bother to know where is our liver in body? what function it does? How can we avoid diseases? Because it seems complicated.. It is not!!!
Even if we try, we get to know info in bits and pieces..We all think its the doctor's job to repair our body and we cannot avoid/are not responsible for any problems that happen within our body..

Above all, the thing that I really hate is " we believe too much of modern science and get into deeper picture instead of understanding a broader picture of physiology". There were saints and body built people from india who attainned great heights just by controlling their senses and passion.One who can control his own senses and passion( they are called jithendrian) can really achieve anything impossible... People who just try to go in that path will atleast stay free of illness.Those people knew never knew molecular biology techniques, gene function etc. but they knew the basic body physiology and biochemistry just like our grandparents know. So, staying healthy and having a calm mind do NOT need specialisation in biology. But we dont know even that physiology.

So, what do you say Priya??..Okay..

My motto of this post and the forthcoming posts are to help us understand the importance of knowing our body. I wish to share the little knowledge that I gained in physiology w.r.t physiological problems..Stay tuned.. Please feel free to share your ideas as always.. I hope you gain something out of these science posts as like sindhai sidharal previously!