Where does the energy come from?

Where does the energy come from that is lost from the body during one single seminal discharge? The energy comes from the nutrients of the food which are broken down during the process of digestion, assimilated into the bloodstream and form into fatty protein structure of the spermatozoa. Metabolic energy of the body is used in every step of this procedure particularly in that metabolism in which the quantities of dietary proteins are required to be regularly constructed and energized into a high count of spermatozoa. In the case of excessively dominant and unruly emotional metabolism when the release of semen is frequent and reckless the continual production and replacement of spermatozoa requires food that should be rich in protein and fat. This food uses up a much higher amount of energy in the processes of digestion, assimilation and metabolism compared to foods that are light with low protein and low fat content. With the fat and protein rich diet a greater amount of metabolic energy is required as this food puts a greater load of metabolism in the digestive organs and glands like the liver and pancreas, on the heart, on the circulatory system as well as on the transporting and excretory systems. Owing to such overburdened activity the cells and tissues of various organs require replacement more frequently and the total increased cellular activity results into greater use of metabolic energy which accelerates the metabolic rate and permanently raises the resting or basal body temperature. Gerontologists, who study the processes of aging and degeneration, are of the opinion that increase and acceleration of these factors are primary reasons of faster physical degeneration and deterioration of the human body.

The control of seminal release

When the fact is accepted that semen is produced as a consequence of emotional metabolism, which originated in the mind, that activates the release of ICSH from the pituitary gland it becomes easy to admit that the production and release of semen is an obvious and normal manifestation of the human emotional processes. It is inevitable for humans to express their emotions and the manifestations must have a process of release in order to maintain good mental and physical health.

So, what is it abnormal?

When a man is of emotional nature and goes through frequent experiences, whether voluntary or involuntary, of abnormally more frequent seminal emissions what must he do to reduce and control the loss of semen as well as maintain his health and vitality?

Here the point of discussion is not about preventing the release of semen but of controlling its formation and release. If the formation of semen is controlled or reduced the necessity for its release will automatically diminish and in the process vitality or metabolic energy will be retained. The controlling starts at the emotional level by gradually training the mind to control the emotional processes. A man who is suffering from the problem of spermatorrhoea is essentially suffering from an emotional problem. The physical problem of excessive seminal discharge is just the consequence. So, control of the mind and emotional processes is the first step which can be attained through yoga therapy. Practising asanas, pranayama and meditation helps a man to achieve such control over the mind.

How can yoga therapy help?

The benefits of yoga are huge as it coordinates and balances the nervous and endocrine systems as well as it develops consciousness of different mental and emotional levels and the active changes. This awareness or consciousness of the mind helps to attain control and stability gradually. A man suffering from unruly passions, erratic fantasies, disorderly thoughts and excessive emotional expression suffers from spermatorrhoea and he can achieve effective benefits by following a yoga program everyday. The program is aimed to increase mental stability and emotional balance which shall reduce the pituitary secretions. This will ensure that the production of spermatozoa and testosterone comes under control.

Yoga therapy gets to the root of the problem that is controlling the emotional processes which is the only way to eliminate the problem of excessive seminal discharge. If a man tries to control and suppress the release of semen without understanding how the emotional states influence release of semen then he can cause more harm than good, both physically and mentally. Yoga can relieve the man of his problem as well as get rid of his sense of guilt and embarrassment about the entire process.

The state of balanced emotional expression

An ordinary man who is married or is committed to a female partner is involved in some form of emotional life. Such a man should not take up yoga therapy in an attempt to control and reduced seminal discharge unless both the partners decide together. This kind of an effort would be considered as an unnatural decision and would create abnormalities and tension in the relationship because it is unfair to the partner. It might also give rise to some diseases. He should use yoga therapy to bring balance in the physical relationship and find the point between the two extremes of complete repression and excessive manifestation. The manifestation of emotions of an ordinary man is a reality of life and is indispensable. The expression of emotions forms the basis of human relationships which has given birth to family, society and the community as a whole.

Yoga therapy helps an ordinary man of the present world to lead a spiritual life by providing the key in the form of spiritual awareness although being a part of the materialistic life. The key is controlled manifestation of emotions which can be acquired with the practice of yoga every day.

Control through yoga practice

The domination and impact of emotions are experienced in a paranormal level that is beyond the physical level by the yogis which they attain through spiritual realisation. By rigorous practice of yoga they train their minds and bodies to control the emotions instead of ignoring or killing those. By the practice of kundalini yoga, kriya yoga and dhyana yoga (meditation) they increase the absorption of emotions and become successful in rising above the physical level. This way they purify the inner desires and passions so that the emotions are experienced and manifested in a more general manner. At the spiritual level the yogis have a compassionate attitude towards humanity in general unlike a sense of belonging, attachment and passion for particular individuals. Through this yogic process the production and release of semen reduces and the vital energy of the body is redirected and utilised in the pursuit of higher levels of spiritual consciousness.

Kundalini is defined as the energy that lies dormant at the base of the spine until it is activated by the practice of yoga and channelized upwards in the process of spiritual perfection. It is believed to be a power associated with the divine feminine. In Sanskrit kundalini means circular and symbolises a coiled snake. Because the shape is imagined to be serpent-like attaining mastery in kundalini yoga is termed as mastery over Serpent Power. Once such mastery is attained requirement for food becomes very limited, the metabolic rate can be controlled and reduced, the cells and tissues of the body can be rejuvenated and conserved.

Yogic treatment

In the yoga therapy the most essential part is internal purification of the body systems like the digestive, circulatory and eliminative systems. These body mechanism need to be cleaned so that they can function to their best. Only then the metabolic processes can be gradually controlled and slackened. Then the problems of disorderly mental and emotional processes and unruly endocrine and reproductive processes can be slowly coordinated and stabilized.

The Yoga program can be as follows

i. Surya Namaskar – take a cold bath early in the morning and practice up to 12 rounds everyday.

ii. Asana – start with pawanmuktasana parts 1 and 2. Then practice vajrasana and siddhasana. After that practice pawanmuktasana part 3 and shakti bandha series.

After a few months of perfecting the above noted exercises one should start practising the more serious asanas — pada hastasana, bhujangasana, salabhasana, paschimottanasana, sarvangasana, ardha padma halasana, shashankasana, ustrasana, gomukhasana, ek pada sirsasana, sirsasana, mulabandhasana, matsyasana, ardha matsyendrasana, tadasana, pada angusthasana.

iii. Pranayam – bhastrika with antar mouna, jalandhara bandha and mula bandha, preferably 5 rounds of 50 breaths each. Practice shitali or shitkari for 2 to 3 minutes. Nadi shodhana stages 1 – 4 with mahabandha. It is advisable to make each stage perfect for 1 – 2 months before going on to the next stage. Practising up to 10 rounds is beneficial.

iv. Mudra and bandha – viparita karani mudra and yoga mudra. It is advisable to practice vajroli mudra and mula bandha 25 times each before starting meditation.

v. Shatkarma – neti and kunjal should be practised every morning. Laghu shankhaprakshalana must be done every day for one week, then once a week. Complete shankhaprakshalana should be practiced under the guidance of an expert yoga trainer preferably in a school or an ashram before starting the sadhana program.

vii. Meditation – antar mouna stages 1 and 2. The practice of these exercises helps in experiencing the emotional processes of the mind.

As an alternative ajapa japa can be practised every evening.

viii. Diet – follow light and simple vegetarian diets. The salt intake should also be very little. It must be used just for taste. Foods that must be avoided are meat, egg, oily and spicy foods, all forms of refined foods, chemically processed foods, alcohol, packaged  foods, milk and milk products because these foods increase the stimulation of passion in the human body.

ix. Fasting – 1 day of fasting in a week or skipping the evening meal is beneficial for health.

Some tips for good health

Bathing or taking a shower in cold water every morning and evening keeps the body cool and mind pure.

Getting out of bed in the morning as soon as you wake up and your eyes open. During the rest of the day try to keep yourself busy constantly and occupied with various activities.

Gradually try to develop a sense of understanding of the internal emotional processes. When it is understood that the mind is becoming engrossed in passionate thoughts and fantasies try to observe its influence on the reproductive organs and the reactions.

Impotence and sterility in men

Many men tend to suffer from problems of impotence and sterility. These are disorders when there is failure to perform sexually and of reproductive behaviour. Main reasons are anatomical, physiological or psychological. Sterility and infertility of the man account for nearly one third of all childless marriages (in cases of childless by compulsion and not in cases of childless by choice) across the world. There is a simple proceedure called seminal analysis which indicates a low sperm count in the seminal fluid and shows the presence of abnormal or immobile sperms. Here the discussion has been restricted to impotence and sterility of man because of malfunctioning of the male reproductive tract.

Yoga therapy offers very effective results in regaining potency and fertility in men who suffer from psychological, physiological, anatomical or minor hormonal imbalance. Often it has been noticed that sperm count is a temporary disorder and reduced and abnormal sperm count have been improved to near normal levels within 6 months of disciplined and continuous yoga therapy.

Impotence in men

The inability of a man to be involved in the process of sexual intercourse due to deficiency of sexual power. Psychological barrier is the main reason in most of the cases. There are physiological problems like abnormality of the testes or the sexual organs. Sometimes when any of the sacral or coccygeal bones at the lower end of the spinal column gets dislocated or its alignment gets disturbed because of an injury or strain it results in impotency. Diabetes has also been found to cause impotence. Psychological barriers like unpleasant or traumatic experiences in early life give rise to an aversion or dislike for sexual intercourse. Such experiences often give birth to fear, guilt, shame or sense of inefficiency in the subconscious mind. For these problems the proceedure of relaxation in yoga nidra is beneficial as it removes the root cause.

According to yoga theory another prominent reason is obstruction of circulation of pranic energy in the pelvic region and the lower psychic centres. These psychic centres are muladhara and swadhisthana chakras. In severe or extreme cases nervous paralysis or weakness in the lower limbs have been found to develop. Regular meditation and yoga nidra along with asanas which rejuvenate and stimulate particularly the reproductive organs have been specifically found to work well in these cases. Such a yoga program must be practised everyday. The yoga exercises particularly recommended for such cases are the shakti bandha series, vajrasana series, paschimottanasana and bhujangasana.

The paralytic condition results from deficiencies in psychological and mental energy, obstruction in the circulation of pranic energy and lack of energy flow in the whole body. By practicing mula bandha, vajroli and ashwini mudra the inert energy can be re-energized and blockages in pranic energy and the psychological barriers can also be overcomed.

Medical science says that impotence can also happen due to deficiency of Vitamin E in the regular diet. Foods like wheat germ, unrefined cereals, sesame seeds and olive oil are recommended to fulfill the deficiency.

Sterility in men

The condition of infertility in man is known as sterility. It is the condition when a man is unable to fertilize the ovum in the woman. Sterility has different forms. In some cases infertility occurs when there are faults in the chromosomal mechanism of sex determination during the time of conception. In other cases infertility may happen due to later developmental faults in sexual differentiation of the embryo and foetus till the time of birth and afterwards in the ongoing sexual developmental process.

Male (androgenic) hormones particularly hormones like testosterone are responsible for determining the anatomical and psychological characteristics as well as the personality and behaviour of a man. Some men suffer from the problem called hypogonadism where the reproductive organs remain underdeveloped. Inability to produce spermatozoa and no or insufficient secretion of hormones are considered to be underdevelopment of reproductive functions. The defects may lie in the impaired spermatogenesis in the seminiferous tubules of the testes or in the interstitial cells resulting in insufficient testosterone levels. Lower testosterone levels invariably results in failure of spermatogenesis and underdeveloped or weak secondary sexual characteristics.

Sterility can result from failure of the mechanism of the hypothalamus because the gonads depend on pituitary secretion. Injury or damage of the testes is also another reason of sterility. The injury can happen from any accident or fall. Some diseases like gonorrhea, orchitis, tuberculosis, syphilis and malignant tumors cause major damage in the functioning of the testes. Castration by surgery is also another reason of sterility.

‘Testicular Maldescent’ is a condition where improper or incomplete descent of the testis into the scrotum happens. The testes develop in the abdomen and  move down into the scrotum shortly before birth but when it remains undescended it may be located anywhere in a path from the abdomen to the upper part of the scrotum or, sometimes even, outside the scrotum. This is found in about 1% of full-term boy babies. This is also an instance of failure of development.

If there is injury, damage or defect in only one testis and the other testis is unaffected and healthy then there will not be any problem of sterility. Usually one operational testis is sufficient for normal sexual activities and reproductive functions. In conditions of sterility arising out of diseases like tuberculosis, tumor, venereal diseases and because of castration the condition is usually irreversible. Among the men suffering from infertility only a handful suffer from such difficult and irreversible conditions while the majority suffers from psychological and behavioural problems.

Signs of sterility

The age at which the problem of insufficient or no testosterone production strikes a male determines the features of the problem. If it strikes before puberty then the reproductive (genital) organs and secondary sexual characteristics, like deepening of voice, growth of pubic hair, growing of hair in the chest and legs and growing of beard and moustache remain underdeveloped. Usually the male is abnormally tall because the growth of the long bones of the body does not stop at puberty. The typical prepubescent male grows into a tall and thin man without beard and moustache on the face, with a shrill (high pitched) voice, diminutive genital organs and childish or juvenile personality.

If the problem of failure of production of testosterone and sterility strikes after puberty the changes are less noticeable. Growth of the male remains unaffected and the secondary sexual characteristics remain in a less developed condition instead of disappearing completely. The external genital organs remain in a partially rudimentary or vestigial state. The common associated symptoms are loss of energy, lack of eagerness and low libido (sexual drive).

Comprehensive approach

A prominent symptom of male infertility is either a low sperm count or under-developed sperms which are unable to fertilize an ovum in the woman. To increase the sperm count and produce adequate quantity of healthy sperms the following steps must be taken –

avoid pollution from heavy metals like mercury, cadmium, lead,

reduce or, if possible, stop the use of recreational drugs like alcohol, tobacco, cannabis,

stay away as much as possible from volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde, methane (and especially from the petroleum derivatives).

It is very difficult to stay away from pollution in this industrialized world so we must take the help of some nutrients and antioxidants which can minimise the effects of these toxins. Under medical guidance some supplements can be taken like vitamin B12, vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc citrate, essential fatty acids and inorganic selenium. It goes without saying that various kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables must be taken in good proportions regularly because these natural sources provide us with a wide range of nutrients and antioxidants which cannot be obtained from supplements.

Yogic treatment

Although the present discussion is about fertility and sterility of man it is important to note that successful impregnation, fertilization and pregnancy thereafter can happen only with the cooperation and participation of both the man and the woman as one entity.

Often it can be seen that both the man and woman are both physiologically and psychologically normal and perfect yet they remain childless and laboratory test reports cannot frequently determine where the defect lies in case of infertility in marriage. In such cases it is for certain that some aspect aur condition of their sexual relationship remains unfulfilled or unfavourable and this is where yoga therapy can help. Both the partners should take up yoga therapy and practice together.

The following yoga program should benefit both the partners.

i. Surya namaskar – 12 rounds daily in the morning at sunrise.

ii. Asana – start with pawanmuktasana parts 1 and 2. After perfecting this start the shakti bandha series. 2 months later start the more effective asanas — vajrasana series, especially shashankasana, bhujangasana, supta vajrasana, marjari asana and ustrasana.

After perfecting the above-noted program start pada hastasana, bhujangasana, salabhasana, sarvangasana, druta halasana, matsyasana, chakrasana, hanumanasana, paschimottasana,  kandarasana, dwi pada kandharasana, bhadrasana.

iii. Pranayama – nadi shodhana and vastrika with antar kumbhaka and bahir kumbhaka, jalandhara bandha, mula bandha and uddiyana.

At sunset time practice surya bheja for 10 rounds.

iv. Mudra and bandha –  pashinee mudra and yoga mudra. Vajroli and mula bandha should be practiced 30 times everyday.

v. Shatkarma – practice neti everyday and lagu shankhaprakshalana whenever there is constipation.

vi. Relaxation –  yoga nidra and abdominal breathing in savasana.

vii. Meditation – sit in the siddhasana position and practice ajapa japa.

viii. Diet – it must be high protein diet which will increase the metabolic rate and provide the essential nutrients for increased spermatogenesis. To remove constipation intake of honey, fruits and nuts are recommended. The diet should have more of Vitamin E rich foods like olive oil, sesame, wheat germ, unrefined serials and grains.

Some tips for good health

Impotence and sterility are often consequences of workaholism, mental exhaustion and physical exertion. To counter such negative influences steps like sufficient rest, new environment, shutting down social and work commitments, staying away from responsibilities and mental pressures should be taken. A peaceful and relaxing vacation amidst nature works wonders for sexual partners hoping to start a family.

In case of psychological barriers acting as a factor responsible for impotency, good music and pleasant fragrance can be used at the time of sexual activity.

Prostate problems

Most men in their middle and old ages tend to suffer from urinary incontinence. When the prostate gland increases in size this problem begins to show. Medically it is known as prostate gland hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is the condition of enlargement of an organ or tissue from the increase in size of its cells. The common symptoms associated are soreness and pain in the groin area, the urinary stream may become weak aur stop and start, video urination, sense of incomplete bladder clearance, urge to urinate and leaking as well as sexual dysfunction. It is believed that factors like excessive sexual activity, weakness in the muscles, taking strong cathartic or purgative drugs, an healthy diet and impurities in the blood responsible for this problem. However the exact fundamental reason for the problem has not yet been determined in medical science. Many researchers consider enlargement of the prostate gland twin extent is normal consequence of old age of the male body.

Another common and relevant condition is prostatitis which is swelling of the prostate gland and reasons include disorder of the immune system, infection or injury. Associated symptoms are difficult urination and pain in the groin, pelvic region and genitals.

Yogic concept

According to yogic theory of anatomy the excessive and imbalanced secretions of male hormones like testosterone for a prolonged period of time is a primary reason of prostatic diseases. In the situation where during the earlier period of active sexual life the pituitary hormones that determine reproductive and sexual behaviour in men have been discharged in excessive and indisciplined manner and in unrestrained quantities then later on during the middle and old ages the chances of chronic infection and unrestricted enlargement of the gland increase many times. The enlarged gland ultimately starts compressing the urethral passage as the prostate gland encircles the passageway. Due to this constriction on the urethral tube the flow of urine starts to get obstructed and over time difficult urination increases. The passing of urine in a ‘stop and start’ manner is a consequence of such obstruction.

The problem of prostatic hypertrophy usually starts showing in the middle or  old age but it has begun long back. The condition of hypertrophy is actually the consequence of a series of sexual activities for a long period of time during the earlier years of active sexual and reproductive life. When the sexual processes become imbalanced and uncontrolled during active sexual life the production and effects of testosterone become erratic and undesirable later on in life. The enlargement of the prostate gland results in urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction. The extreme can be prostate cancer.

Problems associated with prostate gland hypertrophy

In the condition of prostatic hypertrophy there is frequent urge for urination but urine can be passed only after straining. Despite all the strain to empty the bladder usually only a little quantity of urine trickles through the constricted urethra. Soon after this exercise the impulse to urinate starts again. This can happen during the night as well. This is the reason why the process of urination becomes a constant and time-wasting process for the man. He cannot have free movement and his day to day life becomes restricted because always needs to be close to a toilet. More problems start in the form of infections. When the bladder cannot be totally emptied some amount of urine always remains stagnant behind the gland. Infections can set in this stagnant urine causing irritation and more difficulty. At this stage medical intervention becomes necessary.

Medical treatment

To remove the problem of prostatic hypertrophy the surgical procedure used is called transurethral resection. A surgical instrument called resectoscope is inserted through the tip of the penis and into the urethra and the passage is widened by trimming or scraping the excess prostrate tissue that is blocking the passage so that both urine and semen can pass freely. This surgery is usually done on and is most successful for older men. For old people yogic exercises become impossible because of their age and general infirmity. It is advisable for men who are younger or who enjoy general good health with the problem of prostatic hypertrophy to adopt yogic therapy initially to improve their condition instead of going for surgical procedure first. After trying yoga exercises for a few months they can get evaluation of their health condition and then take the final decision.

Comprehensive approach

Researches and studies have come up with valid evidence that the enlargement of the prostate gland can be restricted and even in some cases can be reversed. Zinc, selenium, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin D3 and lycopene (found in tomato, red carrot, watermelon grapefruit and papaya) are very beneficial for this.

Yogic treatment

The management of prosthetic hypertrophy through yoga therapy is done by systematically controlling the uncontrolled endocrine secretions, by reduction of the prostate gland and by regaining normal urinary control. All this is easily possible during the initial stages of the problems. The aged people often find it very difficult to adopt full-fledged yoga program comprising of asanas, pranayam and meditation. However, there are some inspiring cases where prostatic hypertrophy has been relieved by practising pawanmuktasana only. In case of middle aged men the yogic program has been found to give adequate benefits. The young men who are suffering from deep-rooted prosthetic problems and infections should adopt full-fledged yoga program and should be practised diligently and steadily. During the time of the yoga therapy and until the problems have been cured or relieved to a good extent they should abstain from sexual activity as much as possible.

i. Surya namaskar – this should be practised at the time of sunrise according to individual capacity. Recommended is 12 rounds or more, if possible. This is an important exercise because it helps in regenerating the pranic energy.

ii. Asana – the asana program should be started with pawanmuktasana and vajrasana series. Gradually and according to individual capacity the following asanas can be started — aaradhya padma paschimottanasana, gatyatmak paschimottanasana, trikonasana, shashank bhujangasana, sarvangasana, salabhasana, druta halasana, dwi pada kandharasana, chakrasana, ustrasana, tolangulasana, matsyasana, ardha matsyendrasana, brahmacharyasana, dhanurakarshnasana, vasisthasana, pada angusthasana, virasana, mayurasana, bhadrasana. Whenever possible vajrasana can be done.

iii. Pranayam – bhastrika to be practised according to individual capacity along with antar kumbhaka, mula bandha and jalandhara bandha. These exercises bring back lost energy. Nadi shodhana up to stage 4 should be practised for at least six months. Surya bheda must be practised once a day for up to 10 rounds.

iv. Mudra and bandha – mula bandha and vajroli mudra for 20 to 25 times every day. Maha mudra and maha bheda mudra should be practised up to 7 times every day.

v. Shatkarma – neti and kunjal should be practised everyday and laghu shankha prakshalana once in a week.

vi. Relaxation – yoga nidra should be practised in the afternoon every day. Abdominal breathing in savasana to be practised every day before going to sleep.

vii. Diet – simple, light vegetarian diet is recommended. Diet should not contain meat, excessive spices and oil. Overeating can be harmful. The light and measured quantity of food helps to conserve energy which gets redirected for the healing process. It is preferable if the dinner can be taken just after sunset. Beverages like tea and coffee should be limited. Alcohol and tobacco should be avoided. Drinking plenty of water is good.

viii. Fasting – either fasting for one day in a week or skipping the evening meals every alternate days can be beneficial.

ix. Rest – sufficient rest is necessary. Lifestyle involving a lot of social activity and late nights should be avoided, at least during the initial months of the program.

Hydrocele

Hydrocele is the condition when there is a fluid filled sac around a testicle, the first manifestation of which is swelling of the scrotum. A clear and serous fluid collects in the lining of one or both testes. It is common in newborn male babies and normally disappears without any treatment during the first year. Older men can also develop hydroceles due to some kind of inflammation or injury. It is congenital in male babies but the most common type occurs in adults. There is swelling of the testes and the spermatic cord for a long period of time which is considered to have happened after repeated severe attacks of infection of the testes and the spermatic cord. Usually men experience swollen testicles and testicular discomfort. Hydroceles are usually painless but when there is inflammation and those become large and inconvenient generally then the pain increases.

Hydrocele can grow very fast or slowly and maybe small or large in size. This problem can happen to men of all ages but usually it starts at the youth stage. If it is not taken care of properly and timely  it may gradually get enlarged as the age increases. Men who eventually suffer from hydrocele usually have a history of fluid retention (edema) in one or both the testes along with inflammation well as and swelling of the spermatic cord in the groin area. Everytime there is fluid retention the fluid accumulates around the testes which gradually becomes stiff and this makes the testes enlarged. Men who suffer from such bouts repeatedly over the years and the condition is not  properly taken care of, the hydrocele never gets the chance to reduce in size or the condition never gets reversed. This leaves it hardened and abnormally enlarged.

Why are the causes of hydrocele?

Medical Science is of the opinion that the main causes of hydrocele are weakness from birth or heriditary, severe injury or overstrain. In the tropical countries the most common reason of hydrocele is filariasis. This is an infection caused by roundworms which is carried and transferred to humans by culex mosquitoes. This medium-sized mosquitoes is found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. When the adult female worm gets inside the human body it moves into the lymphatic circulation and the lymph nodes particularly into the inguinal nodes in the groin. During a period of 6 to 18 months it reaches sexual maturity there and produces huge numbers of microfilaria. At any given point of time there can be up to 50 million of these circulating in the bloodstream. The earliest symptoms start showing after about six months after the initial infection. When the lymph nodes and the lymph vessels become enlarged or swollen it is the condition of lymphadenitis. The external genitalia becomes red, hot and painful when touched. There can be frequent bouts of fever. These symptoms continue to occur at intervals and if proper medical attention is not provided irreversible damage to the lymphatic drainage system can also occur. The legs and the scrotum can become huge in size and repulsively ugly as the disease increases.

The yogic concept

According to yogic theory when there is inadequate and improper lymphatic circulation in the lower abdominal region it is considered as a disorder of the vajra nadi which controls the flow of prana from the brain to the reproductive organs. On the other hand medical science has not yet been able to specifically link filarial infection with the disorder of hydrocele. In maximum cases where hydrocele has been caused by filarial infection microfilaria has not been found in the nocturnal blood samples or any past record of filariasis of the patient has also not been found but there are many cases where the blood samples of patients have shown very high count of microfilaria though they did not have any symptoms of any type.

To explain this the concepts of both medical science and yogic science have to be considered simultaneously. In situations of suppression of sexual desire is perhaps one primary reason of excessive heating of the reproductive system which causes recurrent infection and degeneration of semen within the spermatic cords. When this wasted semen is drained off into the lymphatic nodes of the pelvic region there is selective attraction of the filarial parasites which then leave the blood circulation and starts thriving in the pelvic lymphatics.

In the condition where normal flow of seminal fluid in the spermatic cord is slowed or stopped then it is the precursor of stagnation of lymphatic fluid which eventually leads to inflammation and infection of the spermatic cord which in turn again leads to inflammation of the scrotum and the eventual condition is hydrocele. Yogic concept explains this condition as a disturbance in the sexual process which  is related to the vajra nadi. This is the basic problem in this disease and during this disturbed and weakened condition filaria gets the opportunity to cause lymphatic infection.

Comprehensive management

When filariasis is detected there are medicines like diethylcarbamazine which can remove the severe infection effectively but only for a short term. This drug has very limited effect in repeated infections. From this it is evident that the complete cure requires more knowledge about the causes, the manner of causation of the disease and the nature of the disease. This is where the yogic concept comes into play.

Yogic techniques can influence the continuous process of building up and breaking down of semen. This is the root where the lymphatic fluid gets infected. By increasing the release of semen from the body is a measure but it is a short term solution so it cannot be considered as a proper solution. This short term process only results in formation of semen in higher quantity and in activation of the process. On the other hand yoga therapy targets the psycho-emotional processes which influence the sexual activities and reproductive processes. This yogic therapy provides the possibility of a complete cure during the initial stages by practising several yogic exercises and processes.

In an advanced stage when the condition has become chronic and there is permanent hydrocele then drainage by surgical intervention is most effective but this often proves to be a temporary relief as the fluid starts to accumulate again soon enough. So the best process is to start yoga program soon after the surgical intervention to prevent recurrence of the problem. If the yoga program is continued then over a course of time it can reduce hydrocele permanently.

Yogic treatment

Yogic therapy aims to improve the drainage of the lymphatic system and clear away all stagnation of fluid at the lymphs of the pelvic region and lower limbs.

The following yoga program must be started only after the acute stage of the disease has lessened.

i. Surya namaskar – according to individual capacity.

ii. Asana – pawanmuktasana part 1, trikonasana, saithalyasana, halasana, sarvangasana, gomukhasana, paschimottanasana, brahmacharyasana, batayanasana, garudasana, tadasana, ardha matsyendrasana, sirsasana.

iii. Pranayama – nadi shodhana, surya bheda and bhastrika with antar kumbhaka, jalandhara Bandha and mula bandha, bahir kumbhaka with uddiyana bandha. Practising pranayama in the padmasana pose is beneficial.

iv. Mudra and bandha – viparita karani mudra, yoga mudra and pashini mudra. It is advisable to practise ashwini mudra, vajroli mudra and moola Bandha 26 times each asana twice a day. If possible practise the asanas while in the inverted position.

v. Shatkarma – only if there is constipation then laghu shankhaprakshalana becomes necessary.

vi. Relaxation – yoga nidra everyday.

vi. Meditation – antar mouna every night. Try to experience the effects of the vajra nadi. The ability to control this prana at its origin in the brain helps to control the fundamental cause of the disease.

viii. Diet – intake of salt must be very limited. Avoid heavy foods, watery vegetables and rice.

Some tips for good health

In case of severe conditions of inflammation and infection of the spermatic cord, inflammation of the testes and fever, complete bed rest is recommended. Bed rest must continue even after the acute inflammation stage (which is usually 7 to 10 days) has improved. Resuming normal life should be done gradually and all kinds of strain should be avoided, particularly lifting heavy weights.

Standing and walking should be very limited and done with adequate care like supporting the scrotum with suitable underwear.

To reduce swelling and inflammation of the scrotum home remedies like dry heat fomentation with dry cloth or with raw tobacco leaf is beneficial.

In many cases the disorder of hydrocele has been found to get cured after marriage. It is important to treat seminal discharge as a natural function of a healthy male so at least two incidences of nightfall every month should be considered as healthy and normal.

Every time going to the toilet whether for urination or for defecation hold the neck of the scrotum tightly and push the testes down to the bottom of the scrotum. Hold in this position for about 10 seconds and do this for three times. This activity helps to increase the lymph drainage in the spermatic cord and to remove blockages. Often this is beneficial in reducing the acute stage of the attack in the condition of chronic hydrocele.

Adopt a yogic lifestyle. Try to avoid social life and entertainment media for excitement and relaxation and, instead, try to involve in karma yoga and practise meditation. These yogic processes will help to develop and control the mind and the heart.

Hernia

What is the condition of bulging aur jutting out of any internal organ through an abnormal opening in any part of the body. The most commonly known form of hernia are the ones which protrude through spots of natural weakness in the lower muscular wall of the abdomen. A part of the intestine sometimes juts out through such weak points under certain conditions.

Different types of hernia

This is a common disorder and is found in both males and females. The type of hernia is determined according to the place of occurrence.

i. Inguinal hernia – is the most common form of hernia. Among all external hernias this accounts for about 70%. This is predominantly found in males — that is about 20 times more than females. This happens when part of the intestine or the bladder protrudes through the abdominal wall or into the inguinal canal. This canal is a short and narrow passage that passes through the inferior part of the abdominal wall and  is the pathway by which the testes can pass into the scrotum before birth. Some abdominal content may pass down into the scrotum making it quite enlarged. This enlarged condition of the scrotum is sometimes difficult to distinguish whether it is a swelling of the testes, as in hydrocele, or this form of hernia. A proper medical check-up is always necessary to correctly diagnose the reason of the swelling of the scrotum.

ii. Femoral hernia – is the next most common type of hernias. This is about 17% of all hernia and is predominantly found in women. There is an opening which carries the femoral artery into the leg. This extends from the iliac artery near the abdomen down to the legs. The primary function of the artery is to supply blood to the lower part of the body and is the major supplier of blood in the lower half of the body. This passes through the passage way called the femoral canal from the abdomen into the upper thigh. Sometimes abdominal contents pass into the front of the thigh through this opening.

iii. Umbilical hernia – is the most common type of hernia. This type constitutes of about 8% of all hernias. Often there is natural weakness in the abdominal muscles at the umbilicus also known as level and in this type of hernia the hernial sac protrudes out through the umbilicus. This type of hernia most commonly occurs at the time of birth or during infancy but can also happen during the middle ages because of obesity or weakness in the abdomen.

iv. Reducible hernia – is the condition when the protruding part of the abdomen can be pushed back into the abdomen. In many cases the hernia itself reduces whenever the patient lies down but bulges again when he stands up but there are some very large hernias which have to be pushed back. Most hernias are of this type and yoga therapy can prove to be beneficial. Under the careful guidance of an expert yoga trainer a specific yoga program can benefit the sufferers greatly.

v. Irreducible hernia – is the condition when the abdominal contents get entangled in the hernia and cannot be pushed back. In a strangulated hernia the supply of blood to the herniated tissue gets cut off causing release of toxins and infection into the bloodstream which can lead to sepsis. This condition is a medical emergency.

Reasons of hernia

The abdominal muscles become weak because of a number of factors which can act alone or simultaneously. Since birth there can be a developmental defect or weakness in the abdominal muscles and ligaments. In these cases hernia occurs soon after birth. Another factor is a sudden, strenuous, muscular activity like trying to lift a heavy weight without proper care, technique or protection. Such an effort can cause a tear or rupture in the muscles and ligaments to produce a hernia and this is the most common reason of hernia in young men and women. Conditions where there is unusual heavy pressure in the inside of the abdominal organs can lead to the condition of hernia. Very common such conditions are i) smokers cough which has been continuing for months or years, ii) the strain associated with passing urine when there is constriction of the urethra by an enlarged prostate, and iii) constipation, which is associated with a lot of straining for defecation. According to yogic theory in case of constipation there is general weakening and depletion of apana vayu, the part of prana which controls the downward movement and expulsion of waste materials from the body. Because of the depletion of apana vayu, straining becomes necessary. Under normal circumstances these are the primary reasons of hernia in middle ages.

A sedentary lifestyle can also contribute to abdominal pressure. Though a little indirectly but this factor is also closely linked because due to lack of exercise there is flabbiness of the abdominal muscles. Also, due to sedentary lifestyle the skin and the muscles of the abdomen become loose and flabby, the abdominal wall loses its tightness, the abdominal organs begin to hang downwards and the whole abdomen starts to bulge noticeably. This condition is known as viscerptosis. Another factor in the lines of obesity is habitual overeating which keeps the intestine overstuffed. This causes the abdominal wall to become overstretched. This increases the pressure in the abdomen.

A common factor contributing to development of hernia in women is pregnancy and childbirth. During these processes the abdominal pressure increases. The women can prevent this suffering with the help of a carefully planned yoga program according to the stages of before, during and after pregnancy,

Overall care of hernia

The nature and extent of hernia determines the process of taking care. Yoga therapy is most effective for preventing the occurrence of hernia and, as noted in many cases, can cure hernias that happened because of weak abdominal muscles and overstuffed intestine, particularly during the initial stages. Yoga therapy can benefit most hernia problems. Specific asanas must be practised continuously for a few months along with necessary changes and modifications in the diet and lifestyle.

In cases of long standing hernia, in cases involving risk of strangulation or obstruction or in cases of hernia which has become too enlarged and unmanageable, surgical intervention becomes necessary. Yoga therapy can be adopted after the surgical correction of hernia has been performed. Sufficient time for recovery and cure must be given adopting yoga therapy. Under the guidance of expert yoga trainers specific asanas can be performed for a beneficial outcome.

According to the condition of the patient 4 to 8 weeks after the surgery simple asanas like pawanmuktasana series part 1 can be started. For the first 3 months after the surgery the asanas must be chosen such that those do not put any pressure or strain on the abdominal muscles. After this stage a few of pawanmuktasana part 2 along with shakti bandha series and vajrasana may be started but only under the careful guidance and suggestion of an expert trainer. An example of caution is that any asana that may require forward bending at the waist should not be practised without suggestion and guidance of the yoga trainer. Some other asanas which put a strain on the abdomen like bhujangasana, salabhasana, dhanurasana should not be performed.

Yogic treatment

It is important to remember that i. the following yoga program is aimed at prevention and control of hernia and ii. the program cannot be adopted why there is Hernia in and untreated or an reduced condition. First any hernia should be back inside the abdomen by proper and necessary management process.

i. Asana – pawanmuktasana parts 1 and 2, particularly naukasana, ardha titali asana and poorna titali asana. Next comes halasana, sarvangasana, vajrasana, matsyasana, shashankasana, ustrasana, marjari asana, supta vajrasana, viparita karani asana, pasini mudra, yoga mudra.

ii. Pranayama – brahmari pranayama, light vastrika with antar kumbhaka, jalandhara bandha and mula bandha. Bahir kumbhaka with uddiyana bandha.

iii. Mudra and bandha – ashwini mudra, vajroli mudra, moola bandha and agnisar kriya.

iv. Shatkarma – jala neti everyday. Laghu shankha prakshalana once every week.

v. Relaxation – yoga nidra everyday.

Some tips for good health

For prevention and control of hernia adequate attention must be given to healthy digestion process, removing constipation and restoring the balance of apana Vayu.

People who are suffering from hernia must definitely avoid strenuous activities like lifting heavy loads. To prevent the occurrence of hernia basic problems like sneezing, coughing, difficult and strainful urination and defecation must be managed properly.

To prevent herniation and ensuring a smooth digestion process it is advisable to have a light, natural, vegetarian diet. Overeating should be definitely avoided and a moderate meal must be taken. Do not stuff the intestine with so much food that stretching of the abdomen happens resulting in increased pressure on the abdominal wall and muscles.

If the symptoms of hernia seem to be aggravating then fasting is beneficial. Skipping one meal per day makes the condition manageable again.

Kidney stones

Primary reasons of formation of stones in the kidney are

i. metabolic imbalance

ii. poor diet and nutritional imbalance

iii. disturbances of body fluids, and

iv. acid imbalance.

Due to the above-mentioned problems the urine contains various substances which get deposited from the urine in the kidneys. These depositions form sediments, grains, gravel or large stones inside the kidneys. These sediments or, sometimes, even stones may pass in the urine with symptoms of severe pain and blood discharge.

The most common types of kidney stones are

i. Calcium or phosphate stones: These stones are quite large in shape and look like the antlers or horns of a stag. These can form very fast in excessive alkaline conditions or when there is disturbed calcium metabolism. Such disturbance occurs because of imbalance of parathyroid glands, excess consumption of calcium rich foods like milk or when calcium is being moved into the circulation from the bones of the skeleton.

ii. Uric acid and urate stones: These stones are generally formed because of acidic conditions when the diet is too rich in protein from sources like meat, fish and eggs.

iii. Oxalate stones: These stones generally grow when there is continuous concentrated urine. There is an assumption that a diet containing excess of oxalic acid rich foods are the primary sources of such stone formation. Foods like tomatoes, spinach, rhubarb are high in oxalate. However, this theory is not scientifically proven.

The pain associated with formation of stones inside the kidney is known as renal colic or ureteric colic pain. This pain is generally caused by stones formed in the upper urinary tract which obstruct the smooth flow of urine. Ureteric colic pain is a more medically accurate term for this because of the location of stone formation. This pain develops suddenly and is excruciating in nature. When a proportionately large stone passes into the narrow ureter and it begins to move down towards the bladder it obstructs the flow of urine or the stone gets lodged and stretches and widens the area and the pain begins. The pain is usually experienced in the region from the loin to the groin. It can be of two types like repeated spasms of pain for 2 to 3 hours or a continuous pain extending for 24 hours or more.

Usually the pain starts suddenly and is acute in nature. The patient usually has to curl up, folding the legs and holding those against the chest and roll from side to side in pain. Vomiting, heavy sweating and strong urge to urinate are the common associated symptoms. Despite the strong urge and sufficient volume of urine only small volumes are expelled slowly only after much straining and the patient is usually left with the feeling of incomplete emptying. This condition is known as strangury hernia. The above symptoms are a clear indication that there is blockage in the urinary tract.

Reasons of kidney stone formation

Formation of kidney stones is the result of several factors working alone or together. Metabolic disorder is one important factor particularly when the urine remains highly concentrated always. Another important and common factor is indiscretionary and unhealthy diet. Diets that are comprised of too much meat proteins, acid forming items like refined flour products and sugary products, excessive coffee and tea, too much of spices, too much of sour and pungent garnishing, dressing etcetera increase the chances of stone formation greatly. A rich and unhealthy diet overburdens the liver and digestion becomes slow and difficult thus leaving a lot of materials undigested and whatever the liver fails to properly digest, detoxify and metabolize goes into the kidneys. This concentrated material causes inflammation and stone formation inside the kidneys. The kidneys struggle to transform the contents as much as possible into urine and pass the liquid into the urinary bladder. Such urine usually has a very foul smell and causes irritation. When this process continues for prolonged period of time in life this may give rise to inflammation, tumors and ulceration in the bladder. Other factors responsible for formation of kidney stones include consumption of excessive salt and drinking inadequate amount of water which results in abnormally concentrated urine, difficult flow of urine, persistent urinary tract infection and urine stagnation. Some other factors like lack of movement for prolonged period of time in a reclining position because of illness or during a period of recovery from any disorder and lack of sufficient exercise are also known to cause stone formation in the kidneys.

Yogic treatment

A properly planned yogic therapy program can help to prevent formation of kidney stones and to remove old stones and sediments. Sufferers who have experienced mild or severe attacks of renal pain in the past or who are occasionally having repeated attacks should try to practise this program in an attempt to prevent aggravation of the condition and stop attacks in the future. It is important to know that large stones may be difficult to be removed by yoga therapy and if yoga cannot bring relief surgery is the only alternative.

i. Surya namaskar – practise upto 6 rounds everyday.

ii. Asana –  trikonasana, vajrasana, supta vajrasana, marjari asana, vyaghrasana, shashank bhujangasana, salabhasana, ustrasana, ardha matsyendrasana, naukasana, ardha padma paschimottanasana, chakrasana, kati chakrasana, merudandasana, ardha padma halasana, mayurasana, hansasana, kurmasana, dwi pada sirsasana, tadasana, tiryaka tadasana.

iii. Pranayama – practise bhastrika with bandhas.

iv. Mudra and bandha – pashini mudra yoga mudra, vajroli mudra, moola bandha, uddiyana bandha.

v. Shatkarma – practise agnisar kriya or nauli everyday. It is better to practise shankhaprakshalana under the guidance of a yoga trainer in any yogic school, centre or ashram. Practise laghu shankha prakshalana once a week.

vi. Relaxation – yoga nidra and abdominal breathing exercise.

vii. Meditation – practice ajapa japa and nada yoga everyday.

viii. Diet – a wholesome diet made out of fresh natural ingredients is advisable. Lightly cooked fleshy and tender vegetables, fruits and fruit juices help to alkalinize the urine. Avoid foods and food products like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy because this type of foods produce uric acid wastes in greater quantities which increase the concentration of the urine. Foods that form acid in the body should also be avoided. Foods made from refined flour and sugar like sweets, cakes, biscuits, should also be avoided. Consumption of vegetables like tomatoes and spinach must be minimised as much as possible because these are high in oxalic acid. Intake of salt must also be minimised as much as possible. Drinking good amount of water is necessary like at least 4 litres per day during the summer months.

ix. Fasting – flushing and cleaning the urinary system, whether affected or healthy, is a very important aspect of prevention and curing of kidney stones so along with drinking a lot of water occasional fasting is also recommended.

Some tips for good health

Parsley tea is considered to be very healthy and beneficial so drinking a glass of this tea 3 to 4 times in a day is recommended.

Walking everyday for a short while especially after dinner is beneficial.

Some light outdoor exercises at least twice a week is helpful for the sluggish urinary process.

Prolapse

This is a common problem occurring to women and men all over the world but unfortunately very few people have knowledge about the ways and means available to help address the problem. Surgical procedure is one obvious method of correcting the problem but other than that there are many yogic exercises which can mend and improve the pelvic structures and in many cases have been found to be more helpful in the long run compared to surgical procedures.

The term ‘prolapse’ can be defined in simple words as a bulging or falling out of an internal organ or body part like the vagina or the rectum, that usually happens because of weakened supportive tissues. This term is usually referred for prolapse of pelvic organs. Sometimes the rectum collapses into or even out of the external anal sphincter muscle. This condition gives rise to lower back pain at the time of defecation and some pain with irritation in and around the anus. There is prolapse of the uterus where it may come down from its original position into the vagina. In some severe cases it may protrude out also. The prolapse of the uterus is not associated with pain and only a persistent mild pain in the lower back region is there. However, in this condition there is frequent urge to urinate and inability to control the flow of urine develops which makes urine to pass involuntarily during laughing, coughing or because of some sudden jerk and pressure.

Sometimes in the pelvic region some organs move from their original positions and encroach and disturb other organs. The position of the uterus is normally anteverted that is facing forward but sometimes it may turn backwards and position itself against the rectum and this position is called retroverted. In some women this condition can be since birth (congenital) while with some other women it may develop later on in life because of some strenuous activity like lifting heavy weights. When retroverted uterus encroaches upon the rectum symptoms of constipation is experienced. When the woman is in a seated position she has an uncomfortable feeling. In case of pregnancy such a position can be the reason of miscarriage. When the urinary bladder protrudes into the front wall of the vagina it is the condition of cystocele. This can happen because of constipation, childbirth, violent coughing, lifting heavy loads or some other similar pelvic muscle strain. Frequent urination is the most common and obvious symptom because the bladder can never be emptied completely. As a consequence urine retention happens and repeated incidences of bladder infection take place. Another condition called rectocele occurs when the rectum protrudes into the back wall of the vagina. Constipation is the common symptom associated in this condition.

Reasons of prolapse

One comforting factor is that in the condition of prolapse usually there is not much pain associated. Nagging discomfort is the most common symptom which makes a person very conscious and concerned. To enable a person to make conscious efforts to remove anxiety and deal with problems with basic sense of anatomy the understanding of the internal structure and orientation of the body is not only helpful but necessary as well.

It has already been mentioned earlier that the collapse of the organs in the pelvic cavity happens because the ligaments and muscles which hold the organs in their original positions become weak. These ligaments are made up of fibres which function like strong cords. These ligaments are joined to the bony pelvic wall and these form a net in the floor of the pelvic cavity to hold up the organs and keep them in position. The most important point of this network of ligaments and muscles is the perineal body. This centrally located point is made up of fibres and is positioned about 5 centimetres inside the body above the perineum. The perineum is located below the pelvic diaphragm and between the legs. The area includes the anus and, in females, the vagina. From this point many muscles, ligaments and connecting fibres branch out. Eight important muscles, ligaments and the respective connecting fibres extend out to the rectal and anal canal. When this nodal point becomes weakend the capacity of the entire supporting network becomes damaged which gradually results in the organs moving out of their original positions. Because of the gravitational pull the organs tend to move downwards and the weakend and damaged fibromuscular network fails to counter the downward force and thereby the organs move out of position.

The most common reasons of weakening and damage of ligaments and muscles of the pelvic cavity are pregnancy, childbirth, constipation and diarrhoea. During childbirth the downward forces become maximum and great amount of pressure and strain is put on the pelvic floor. If there is persistent constipation then the pelvic muscles have to undergo similar efforts of straining. Same is the wear and tear if there are repeated incidences of diarrhoea. So, in order to bear and resist such great intensity of pressure and strain the muscles must be made stronger.

The yogic concept

According to kundalini yoga the main point or origin of the life force and energy of the human body is seated in the muladhara chakra. The physical existence of the same fundamental support point in the human body is considered to be the perineal body which has already been discussed.

The pelvic region functions around the perineal body. This fibromuscular node is believed to be the stimulation source of all the life force and energy or Shakti. This energy is the source of all physical activities, emotions, feelings and spiritual awareness as well. Hence, the perineal body is very responsive to emotional ups and downs and accordingly it hampers or enhances the flow of energy, creative aspirations, physical activities and liveliness.

As is evident from the above explanation maintaining the strength and activity of the perineal body is of much importance. There are specific yoga exercises which help to keep the perineal area strong and revitalized. Yoga therapy can consolidate and restore the balance of all the energies necessary for physical, mental, emotional health and spiritual awareness. Such improvements bring overall wellbeing and happiness.

Yogic management of prolapse

There is a specific yoga program for the conditions of prolapse and its complications. These conditions become manageable and might even completely get corrected on its own but very quick and amazing beneficial results must not be expected. Practising a planned yoga therapy with regularity, comprising of various asanas, mudras and bandhas, can bring about positive results.

In disorders like prolapse the improvement is usually time consuming, particularly in those cases where damage in the structure and organs is severe and there is much wear and tear in the ligament. Even in cases where surgery becomes necessary the therapy can be beneficial because it helps the sufferer to get physically and mentally ready for the surgery as well as after the surgery the therapy helps in recuperating and preventing further occurrences. In cases where the damage to the internal organs is nominal and the ligament is slightly stretched and injured, yoga therapy proves to be the most beneficial. After practising the specific yoga therapy for a certain period of time the person can experience additional benefits like alleviation of emotional turmoil, laziness and melancholy feeling. On the other hand there will be feelings of fulfilment, enjoyment and enhanced energy.

The Yoga program

i. Asana – pawanmuktasana part 2 – particularly naukasana, shashank asana, vajrasana, bhujangasana, marjari asana, salabhasana, sarvangasana, kandharasana and paschimottanasana.

ii. Pranayam – nadi shodhana, bhastrika and ujjayi must be practiced.

iii. Mudra and bandha – all the mudras and bandhas can be practiced or anyone can be chosen which is most useful for the specific condition – ashwini mudra, vajroli mudra, mula bandha and uddiyana bandha.

Some tips for good health

Whenever one has to sit he or she should make the habit of sitting in the utthanpadasana posture with the legs stretched out straight in front, instead of sitting in other postures. This posture helps to pull the pelvic organs upwards.

Sitting in the squatting position must be avoided as much as possible because the pelvic muscles get strained and the pelvic organs are pushed downward. Women in particular should remember that sitting in the squatting position for long periods of time may cause prolapse in women who have weakness in the pelvic region.

Chapter 6 Musculoskeletal system

Cervical spondylitis

This is a general term to define age related wear and tear of the spinal discs of the neck. This condition arises when for a long time the spinal column in the neck is affected by stiffening and degeneration. This is also called cervical osteoarthritis and the condition involves changes to the discs, bones and joints of the neck. With age, the discs of the cervical spine gradually loose fluid and become stiffer.

The usual features associated are pain and muscular cramps in the back of the neck and shoulders. The pain originates at the neck and spreads to the shoulders and forearms. The feeling of pain is like pins and needles or a tingling sensation in the same regions. Because of the pain the neck cannot be moved, movement of shoulder muscles is restricted and there is loss of balance in legs and hands. While turning the neck there is grounding or popping sounds. Often there is headache, giddiness and ringing in the ears.

X rays show signs of vertebral degeneration in the neck easily but in many cases it appears normal and healthy with little or none of the visible signs of degeneration. Here visible degeneration means the narrowing of intervertebral disc space which gives an impression that the bone has worn away and growth of new bony projections called osteophytes. The passages in the bones called foramina become narrow. Blood vessels which run through these passages supply blood to the spinal cord and to the back portion of the brain including the cerebellum and medulla. The bony constriction in these vertebral arteries hampers blood flow to the brain and causes giddiness and even fainting. The bony overgrowth may also encroach upon the delicate cervical nerve roots that originate from either side of the vertebral column in the neck which gives rise to pain in the arms and back.

The reasons

One common reason of osteoarthritis is an old injury in the vertebral bones of the neck. The neck is the most vulnerable region of the body and is the most delicate part of the spinal column. Incidents like a jerk arising from the sudden braking of a vehicle can cause an injury in the neck region.

The next common reason is gradual degeneration resulting from day to day wear and tear of the bones, discs, joints, muscles and ligaments of the neck region. During the middle ages it often surfaces, particularly in people who are used to a sedentary lifestyle and have to hold their heads fixedly forward for long hours.

Medical therapy

Physiotherapy, anti inflammatory medicines, pain killers, injections are prescribed as medical management of cervical spondylitis.

In the painful areas intervertebral injections of corticosteroids reduce the pain effectively by controlling  the inflammation but it is usually short term relief. The condition of many patients becomes worse after taking a series of such injections. In some cases the pain even aggravates.

Physiotherapy also provides effective relief but again it is temporary. In most cases physiotherapy cannot cure the condition. Physiotherapy for this condition includes massage, cervical traction, cervical collar and shortwave diathermy.

Yogic therapy

Yogic therapy can soothe and alleviate the pain of spondylitis as well as cure it, particularly during the initial stages when the X-ray report shows very nominal changes in the bony structures.

The asanas help to relax and calm down the tension and convulsions in the muscles and simultaneously correct the posture of the patient. The entire yoga program works to regain the pranic balance in the neck region, assist in regeneration of worn out tissues and reduce the abnormal growth in the bony structures.

The following yoga program is designed for patients of cervical spondylitis. It is advisable to start the program very slowly and under the guidance of an expert trainer. The exercises should be practised in the morning every day.

Sciatica and slipped disc

After the neck the next most vulnerable part of the spine is the lower back portion also known as the lumbar region. Two common painful closely linked conditions affecting this region are sciatica and slipped disc. The primary reason of these problems is excessive straining while bending forward.

The spinal column

The spinal column of human beings is made up of thirty three separate pieces of bones. Each one is arranged on top of the other and is held in position by broad and strong spinal muscles. There are soft, spongy pads in between each pair of vertebrae known as intervertebral disc. Inside of the pad there is a gel like fluid. These have three primary functions — act as shock absorbers in the spine, act has tough ligaments to hold the vertebrae of the spine together and, as these are cartilaginous joints, these allow slight movement of the spine.

Sciatica

When there is a pain radiating along the sciatic nerve running down one or both legs from the lower back it is called sciatica. It usually happens when a bone spur or a herniated disc in the spine presses on the nerve or on the delicate nerve roots originating from the three lower lumbar and the first two sacral segments of the spinal column. These nerves combine to form the sciatica nerve. The sciatic nerve runs down the back of each leg supplying sensation to the skin of the foot and muscles of the back of the thighs and the entire lower leg except for its inner side. The sciatica nerve also branches out and supplies nerves to the muscles. Although the origin of the problem is the lower back portion of the spine the pain is felt in the buttocks, thighs and calves. Due to this pain the muscles at the back of the legs experiences tight muscular contractions which makes walking difficult. At every step the muscles are stretched which hurts the injured nerves even more.

Slipped disc

The most common place of occurrence of slipped disc is the lower back region at the L 4, L 5 and S 1 discs. When there is excessive strain upon the lower back portion of the spine one of these discs gets ruptured and torn because of which the gel-like fluid inside the disc bulges outward and encroaches upon any nerve root. This creates the painful and immobilizing injury. This happens mostly while bending forward with the knees straight to push or pull a heavy load on the floor or trying to lift it. Sometimes simple and habitual activities performed during gardening or driving can also cause such an injury.

A person with weak spinal muscles and ligaments is vulnerable to lower back injuries. Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise cannot withstand any excessive strain to the back. This type of agonizing and debilitating injury usually occurs to people who are not used to physical labour. Accustomed labourers or manual workers are rarely victims of lower back injuries. In most cases the condition of slip disc happens suddenly and a ‘snap’ is felt at the lower back with a piercing pain at a particular point in the lower back region. The person becomes immobilized in one particular position, either he is unable to straighten the body whether standing or lying or he is unable to bend the back at all. Any such effort gives rise to severe pain and a feeling of breathlessness. He is made to lie in one position with the help of others or taken for x-ray examination at the earliest. With every passing hour the pain aggravates until it becomes constant and unrelenting. The muscles and ligaments around the injured and displaced disc become swollen with blood and tissue fluids. The protective covering of the spinal muscles immediately contracts tightly to prevent any more painful movement in the area and the sensitive pain fibres connecting the injured disc and the ligaments become more inflamed. The whole lower back region becomes swollen and very painful.

Initial care

When there is an incidence of slipped disc or sciatica the person should be made to lie down immediately on a hard bed and should not make any movement. The first concerns should be to allow the inflammation to reduce and give sufficient time for the healing of the injured disc so complete bed rest is imperative. Application of alternating hot and cold packs over the painful, swollen area during the first few days brings relief from the pain. Alongside, aspirin and muscle relaxant can be availed of.

Complete rest is of utmost importance for fast recovery so the spine should be kept as still as possible and any movement like walking and getting up from the bed must be avoided as much as possible. Physical needs like toilet should be served with urinal pots and bedpans. Food must also be taken in bed. This routine must be followed for at least 10 to 15 days to allow the healing process to work properly. Of course, for more serious injuries it can take months for healing and recovery. Yoga therapy can be beneficial for faster recovery.

Yoga therapy

For conditions of sciatica and slipped disc the fundamental exercises under yoga therapy are back bending asanas which help to strengthen the posterior ligaments and muscles which keep the disc in position and enhance the supply of blood to the lower spinal region. It is important to remember that the backward bending asanas should be practised according to individual capacity. With the passage of time one should try to increase the time of exercising. By and by the stability of the spine is restored and movement of the back becomes normal. Gradually the full range of movements and activities can be regained and surgical correction is not always required. Regular practise of yoga therapy ensures that there are no recurrences of similar injuries.

i. Asana – when there is severe, debilitating pain the person should lie face down (prostrate position) on a hard bed. To get to relief from pain, decrease the strain upon the disc and the nerve roots and speed up the healing process resting in makarasana (crocodile pose) as much as possible is beneficial. It is advisable to adopt advasana and jyestikasana (superior pose) for sleeping. Matsya kridasana can be practised with the painful leg pulled up against the chest. This exercise releases the tension on the nerve roots and reduces the pain.

If these exercises are performed during the acute condition then complete undisturbed rest and quick relief of pain is possible.

Only after the pain has reduced and the healing has progressed the exercises should start. The first asana that must be practiced is salamba bhujangasana (sphinx asana) which is the simpler form of bhujangasana. This exercise helps to relax all the tension in the lower back region. This asana must be done 5 times. (If there is pain one must change into advasana position.) After the sphinx asana becomes easy to perform then by and by the following asanas can be practised in this particular order — ardha salabhasana, sarpasana, saral dhanurasana, bhujangasana, salabhasana, vajrasana, ustrasana and bhunamanasana. When it becomes comfortable to practise all the asanas then the whole set should be practiced every day in the morning (maximum of 5 times for each one). At the end advasana should be done for complete relaxation.

It is important to remember that i) forward bending asanas should not be practised for at least six months. Under the careful guidance of an expert trainer and only after ensuring that there is complete recovery the following asanas can be done – shashankasana, shashank bhujangasana, marjari asana and the shakti bandha series, and ii) sitting in cross-legged positions should be avoided as much as possible to avoid strain on the nerve roots in the lower back region. To practise pranayam and meditation sitting in the vajrasana position is advisable.

ii. Relaxation – after completing one set of exercise hard bhashan must be practiced for 15 to 20 minutes for Deep relaxation. Later on shavasana can be practiced and gradually practice of yoga nidra can be started.

iii. Ajapa Japa – in any condition of spinal injury, particularly sciatica and slipped disc, the movement of breath awareness in the spinal column from the muladhara chakra in the tailbone up to the ajna chakra at the top of the spinal column is beneficial. This can be practised in any position which keeps the spinal column straight. Start with advasana and when lying in the supine position becomes comfortable it should be practised in the savasana position. Ajapa japa can be practised as many times as comfortable because it makes enhances the healing process. When there is much recovery and it is possible then it should be practised in the vajrasana position.

iv. Diet – during the initial days a light semi-liquid diet should be taken, like vegetable soup or porridge. This type of a food conserves vital energy of the body which is redirected towards the healing process and helps to avoid the condition of constipation which can be very problematic for bedridden persons. Constipation can also aggravate the pain.

After sufficient recovery more whole grains, vegetables and pulses can be added.

Foods like meat, cheese and oily preparations must be avoided because these are heavy and constipating. Eggs, milk, ghee and dairy products should also be avoided as so much of protein is not required for the healing process.

Some tips for prevention

Injuries like sciatica and slip disc occur easily when there is a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise. With the practise of a few asanas the strength and flexibility of spinal muscles, discs and ligaments can be regained.

Try to avoid the use of backrests as this weakens the back muscles.

While lifting or shifting heavy loads from the floor maintain the correct position of bending the knees to avoid excessive strain on the vulnerable lower back region.

Back ache

One more very common physical disorder in today’s world is the back pain. Every year new sufferers join the list of chronic back pain patients all over the world — even in advanced countries. After the respiratory diseases like common cold, influenza, bronchitis this is the second most common problem. It is believed that nearly 60% of the world population suffer from severe or long term back ache at some point of their life.

Despite the gravity and widespread nature of the problem medical science has not yet been able to come up with a simple and effective remedy for back pain. Medical management is usually time taking and discouraging for both the medical practitioner and the patient so the attitude of the patient becomes a reluctant resignation to destiny and continues to bear the inseparable suffering.

Interestingly, yoga therapy has something encouraging to offer! Instead of resigning to fate, yoga therapy provides with an easy, helpful and permanent cure for this suffering. People who have been diagnosed with degeneration of the spine and the onset of osteoarthritis usually begin to take it for granted that they will have to live a life of suffering but by following a simple yoga program everyday they can get rid of their suffering and prevent further incidences of back pain. There is a small number of patients, about 5%, in whom prolapse of intervertebral disc has been detected by X-ray examination. Yoga therapy has been proven to be beneficial in such cases too.

What is the reason of backache?

Various therapies have various answers which are questionable. According to recent researches most of the back aches are because of insufficient strength and flexibility of muscles and tendons. The popular belief, however, was that most of the back aches were because of arthritis, degenerative joint diseases, slipped disc or natural conditions like rickets and Paget’s disease.

In one such study on 5000 patients of backache it was reported that over 80% cases had not been caused by prolapse of intervertebral disc, natural conditions and tumors. More than 4 out of 5 patients were suffering from back pain caused by strain and non-flexibility of the muscles.

Another similar study on 5000 patients showed almost similar results and the conclusion was that 4 out of 5 patients were suffering from severe back pain that was caused by excessive pressure and strain upon the back muscles which were beyond their capacity.

The the lack of understanding of this simple fact is perhaps the primary reason why modern therapies fashionable to provide a proper management of the back pain.

Common backache explained

Back pain generally occurs the most in the lower back region and the next common  places being the neck and the area between the shoulder blades. When for a prolonged period of time the muscles that hold and support the spinal column remain fixed in one position with minimum opportunity to become free and relaxed and to expand as in case of driving or sitting in the chair in the workplace for long hours then the problem starts. When this fixed and contracted position of the muscles continues for days together the muscles tend to become tight and contracted which is a semi-permanent condition. We have fibroblasts in the human body. A fibroblast is a cell in the connective tissue which produces collagen and other fibres. Fibroblasts play an important role in healing wounds. These fibroblasts get into action in the contracted parts of the muscles laying down fibrous tissues. Within the painful back muscles these fibrosed areas can be felt deep inside as hard bands or nodules.

The common symptom of chronic backache is that it is most painful at the end of the day. The household management includes bed rest, relaxation, massage and dry heat fomentation.

Acute backache condition

The condition of acute back pain is a severe wire more painful form of the common back pain. The severity lies in the fact that it occurs suddenly and is more agonizingly painful which make the sufferer completely incapable of moving or being moved. This is predominant in people who lead a sedentary Iifestyle, who are obese and do no exercise. Such a lifestyle makes the back muscles weak and incapable of withstanding any strain and even a mild jerk or an insignificant movement like coughing and sneezing can initiate a bout of acute back pain. With even a little movement there is agonizing pain which is so severe that any movement becomes impossible. The muscles around the injured place rapidly contracts to act as a protective guard.  In such a condition one should lie down on the bed as early as possible.The bed should preferably have a solid wooden base. When one lies down the muscles get the opportunity to relax.

To reduce the pain aspirin can be taken. Heat fomentation also brings relief. One should try to prevent the area from becoming stiff so shifting the position on bed from time to time helps. Some patients get relief by cold compress while some get relief by alternating hot and cold compress. Lightly massaging the area also helps in the recovery.

Most cases of acute backache start to lessen in a couple of days and recover fully with bed rest of 7 to 10 days.

The most important aspect is to prevent further occurrences for which yoga therapy is very effective.

Yoga therapy for common back pain

Begin with the asanas every morning and practise for 15 to 20 minutes. After that, lie in the savasana position for 10 to 15 minutes. This therapy is particularly beneficial in increasing the basic strength and capacity of the different muscles involved in back pain. It is advisable to start under the guidance of an expert yoga trainer. At the end of every month it is good to have a checkup of the health of the back.

i. Asanas for lower back muscles – ardha salabhasana, salabhasana, makarasana, ustrasana, bhujangasana.

ii. Asanas for upper back muscles and shoulders – dwi konasana, sarpasana, marjariasana, bhujangasana, kandharasana.

iii. Relaxation – for relaxation adopt the savasana or advasana postures. While practising the relaxation asanas try to experience the pranic energy flowing in the back muscles along with the breathing awareness.

iv. Diet – for relief from back pain reducing excess weight is very important so a light vegetarian diet is recommended. This diet also helps in removing chronic constipation which helps in giving relief from back pain. The diet should mainly consist of whole grains, pulses, salad, steamed or boiled vegetables, fruits and fruit juices and nuts. Sugar, milk and milk products, meat, oil and spices must be avoided.

Arthritis

The inflammation of the synovial joints of the human body is known as arthritis. It affects nearly one out of ten people. Arthritis is a degenerative process and immobilizes people as it can result in irreversible destruction of the joint. The associated symptoms usually are swelling, redness, pain and inability to use the affected joint. Arthritis usually affects the main load-bearing joints like hips, knees and ankles as well as small joints where there is repeated and fine movement like the fingers.

According to yoga concept arthritis is not a disease but it is a prominent symptom of major metabolic and pranic disorder in the human body. In yoga concept there are ways to prevent this degenerative process. If yoga therapy is started at the initial stages before any joint has been damaged permanently then there is possibility that the condition can be reversed.  Persistent practice of yoga can even gradually get rid of dependence on medicines and restore mobility and use of the joints to near normal levels. There are instances where people with very little mobility have regained functioning of the joints to a great extent by resolutely practising yoga everyday.

Yogic concept of arthritis

A normal and healthy synovial joint can lubricate itself. The ends of the bones forming a synovial joint have a hard layer of tissue known as cartilage. The bones are joined together by ligaments around the joint cavity. This joint cavity has a delicate synovial membrane which produces a fluid which lubricates the joint.

The cells of a joint require pretty little supply of blood for proper functioning but when the flow of prana is hampered or is insufficient then the supply of blood and lymphatic fluid also becomes slow and insufficient. This leads to a condition when the joint fluid starts accumulating so the wastes and toxic products of cellular metabolism starts getting deposited instead of smoothly flowing in to the kidneys and the skin for expelling out of the body. These toxic and acidic wastes in the joint fluid affect the sensitive nerves in the joint which causes stiffness and the sensation of pain. When the flow of prana is hampered or stopped for even longer periods then the degeneration in the joint begins. The joint fluid dries up and the soft cartilage lining begins to wear away. There is also calcium deposit on the bones forming new bone growth which restricts movement. As this degenerative process continues the structure of the joint gets damaged making movement even more difficult. The pain increases, deformity begins and, if the situation worsens,  the person can ultimately become crippled.

Types of arthritis

According to modern medical science there are four types of arthritis which are acute arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and gout. However, according to yogic science the fundamental problem is the same which is obstruction in or stoppage of the flow of prana and the stages only differ according to severity and symptoms.

Acute arthritis is a common associated symptom of many diseases and infections like cold, fever, influenza and diarrhoea. During the illness there is viral or bacterial waste released into the bloodstream which easily collects in the joint fluids. This is usually a transitory condition as the symptoms go away a few days after the infection is cured and the purifying process of the body is complete.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of joint degeneration which usually affects young and middle-aged people. It is severe in nature, develops very quickly and restricts movement. The definite reason is not yet known but the incidences can happen because of a great emotional shock, sudden introduction of foreign bodies in the blood circulation like injecting of a powerful medicine or because of any acute infection.When these foreign substances collect in the joint spaces the immune system of the body responds by filling the space with white blood cells to overpower those. This causes inflammation in the area.

From those tissues of the body which have good blood supply foreign substances can be expelled easily but in the joint spaces the blood supply is tenuous so removing the foreign substances becomes difficult. Though the joint tissues are not affected it is the area where the work of overpowering the foreign substances goes on. This intense inflammatory reaction can damage a joint within a couple of months. If this continues the disease affects another joint and gradually more and more parts of the body become crippled and deformed.

Osteoarthritis is another form of chronic degenerative arthritis. It is commonly found in middle-aged and old people who are overweight, accustomed to heavy and toxic diet and have lived a life devoid of exercise. In most cases osteoarthritis affects a joint which had suffered an injury in the past. This injury had caused disturbance in the flow of prana and to the structure of that part which had not been properly treated at that time. Another probable reason is excess of calcium in the body because of faulty diet or some imbalance in the parathyroid glands.

Gout is a different form of acute arthritis. This is probably caused because of self poisoning from food. Usually gout affects people who are accustomed to intake of protein, particularly from foods like red meat, which their bodies cannot metabolize. Uric acid is a toxic by-product of protein after digestion. Normally this uric acid is expelled with the urine but in case of gout it collects in the joint fluid as well. Ultimately grains of acid deposits form in the joints which make movement painful and difficult.

Reasons of arthritis

Prominent reasons of Arthritis are related to emotion, mental stress, unhealthy diet and erratic lifestyle. The balance of the controlling part of the brain and the endocrine system get disturbed by the abovenoted reasons which ultimately have a negative effect on the body.

Emotion and mental stress – tensions embedded in the subconscious mind, suppression of emotions, fear and anxiety affects the body in the form of physical tension, imbalance of the endocrine system, allergies etcetera. Psychic problems like rigidity and clinging on to fixed notions translate into physical rigidity in the forms of arthritis, rheumatism, gout, constipation etcetera.

Diet – excessively rich diet consisting mainly of items like meat, animal fat, processed foods, highly refined foods, deep fried foods, milk, butter, ghee,  sugar and salt contribute to a great extent in causing and aggravating arthritis. Overeating as well as constipation also aggravates arthritis.

Exercise – people who have avoided regular exercise have allowed the joints and ligaments to lose the suppleness, natural movements and flexibility. When the habit is sitting on chairs instead of sitting cross-legged on the bed or on the floor it allows the joints of the hips, legs, spine and shoulders to become stiff.

Medical approach

Modern medical science has not yet been able to the whole extent of arthritis and relies more on the relief of the pain. It cannot for remove the fundamental problems. There are a lot of medicines which primarily work as painkillers and anti-inflammatory compositions. Aspirin is beneficial but gradually tolerance develops and the doses have to be increased which in the long run can damage the liver, stomach and kidneys. At that stage the therapy shifts to more powerful anti-inflammatory compositions until tolerance develops once again. Then the medical therapy promotes to corticosteroids which have very damaging side effects. The adrenal glands suffer from atrophy and the body gets fat. High blood pressure and diabetes can set in, there is profuse growth of body hair, and calcium is drained away from the bones making those more fragile. The last process is surgical intervention to remove the damaged joint and replace it with an artificial one. These are however effective as these can last for a long time.

Holistic approach

The overall management of osteoarthritis can be achieved by consuming fish oil and flaxseed oil in sufficient quantities and taking glucosamine supplement. These are beneficial in reducing the pain and act as anti inflammatory agents. It is advisable not to consume potato, eggplant, tomato, capsicum and chilli because these vegetables tend to increase the arthritis condition in some people.

The condition of rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune inflammatory disorder. Evidences show the possibility that it is a reaction to the large protein molecules assimilated in the bloodstream from incompletely digested foods. The immune system in the stomach gets stimulated by these molecules and start producing antibodies which cross-react with the connective tissues and cause inflammation in joints and muscles. Taking care of the digestive function, food intolerances, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and microbial imbalance in the stomach helps to improve the condition to a good extent.

Yogic approach

Yogic approach of managing arthritis is comprehensive and includes medical concept also. Yoga therapy aIMS at correcting the fundamental problems of faulty lifestyle, an healthy diet and lack of exercise along with the medical management of symptoms. It is ideal to start the yoga program in an ashram, school or centre to reap the benefits of the supportive, energetic and encouraging atmosphere. The all-encompassing yoga program is as follows:

i. Asana – to reduce and prevent the conditions of arthritis the recommended exercise is the antirheumatic series of pawanmuktasana. These exercises improve all the movements video of the joints and at the the same time massages and relaxes those parts. It is beneficial for the sufferer to rinse the hands and legs in cold and warm salty water to enhance the blood circulation before starting the pawanmuktasana series. After some strength and flexibility of the joint is regained the following as soon as can be started but it must be remembered that without any sort of strain or pressure. Important asanas are shashankasana, shashank bhujangasana, and marjari asana and akarna dhanurasana. If it is comfortable vajrasana can be practiced after meals. When these exercises become easy surya namaskar can be practiced according to individual capacity.  8 to 10 rounds every morning can help to prevent father athletic degeneration.

ii. Shatkarma – poorna and laghu shankhaprakshalana, kunjal and neti are essential to remove constipation as well as other metabolic acids and wastes that collect in the joints, tissues and bloodstream. Constipation is one primary causative factor of arthritis.

iii. Pranayam – abdominal breathing, nadi shodhana and bhastrika goes a long way to improve the digestive and eliminative system.

iv. Meditation – meditation is necessary to get rid of all the suppressed mental and emotional anxieties. Antar mouna stage 2 should be practised initially and then stage 3 can be started. These exercises help to release the suppressed emotional turmoil which often translates into physical rigidity that is the arthritic condition. Meditation and intense relaxation helps the mind to be in a positive state.

v. Diet – the diet must be planned so as to serve a two-fold purpose — to have an efficient and clean digestive system which is able to absorb the necessary nutrients and

— enhance the regenerative process to the maximum and reduce the pain.

Cooked light grains and cereals in the whole meal form, millet, barley, rice et cetera.

Boiled pulses of the light variety like moong caqn be taken for sufficient supply of protein.

Steamed or boiled vegetables, particularly the green ones (onion must be avoided).

Salads made up of cucumber, carrot, tomato, beetroot, leafy vegetables, celery leaves, sprouted pulses and seeds.

Fresh and dried fruits (bananas must be avoided) and nuts in little handfuls.

It is advisable to select seasonal fruits and vegetables and, preferably, the ones locally grown.

Sugar must be avoided. If needed, a little honey can be used.

Milk and milk products must be avoided. Processed, packaged, refined and synthetic foods must be avoided.

Having the meals at proper time everyday is essential. Lunch should be taken between 10 a.m. and 12 noon and dinner should be between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. The lunch should be heavy and the dinner should be light. Snacking between the meals should be avoided.

During the acute stages it is advisable to fast one day each week or atleast skip one meal. This helps to reduce the pain and makes recovery faster.

vi. Rest – rest is very essential during the severe inflammatory phase. Gradually small periods of activity must be incorporated within the periods of rest.

vii. Exercise – exercise is an integral part of recovery and to attain an active, positive and self-sufficient lifestyle. If needed, one must force oneself into simple forms of exercise like walking, gardening, swimming to ensure the strength and flexibility of the limbs and joints are restored. This must be incorporated along with the basic asanas.

viii. Heat therapy – hot bath, application of dry heat helps to relax the muscle, reduce inflammation, increase body metabolism, makes the elimination of toxic wastes faster, reabsorp calcium deposits, reduce the bone formations and loosen painful spasms.

ix. Massage – massaging should be light and gentle on the joint areas and limbs. Massage helps to improve blood circulation, production of lymphatic fluid and relaxes the sensory and motor nerves.

x. Mental conditioning – the person following yoga therapy must be mentally prepared for patience and positivity. Discomfort and pain should not be a deterrent, at least during the initial stages. Yoga nidra is helpful at this stage and should be utilised as an exercise to get relief from pain as well as for transformation of the mind. The positive frame of mind will ensure that there is no more dependence on medicines, less pain sensitivity and the arthritic condition is getting reversed.

Chapter 7 General Health

The skin

Though the saying goes beauty is skin deep, it is not actually so — it is an organ! The health of the skin is equally important as the health of the whole body. A healthy skin is only possible healthy digestive process, liver and blood circulation. Functions of the skin include protection, insulation, absorption and elimination.

Protection – the skin acts as a protective covering for the body. It secrets natural oil from the skin pores to keep it moistened and prevent water damage.

Insulation – the skin can conserve heat during winter and dissipate heat to keep the body cool in summer. It maintains a steady body temperature of 98.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Absorption – the skin absorbs the sun’s rays and helps in biochemical reactions produce melanin and Vitamin D.

Elimination – is a big eliminative organ like the intestine, the kidneys and the lungs. It expels water, salt and wastes through the pores.

The problems related to the skin are psychosomatic skin diseases, hypersensitivity to drugs and chemicals, dermatitis, skin infections like viral, fungal and bacterial infections and scabies, psoriasis and skin cancer.

For a healthy skin the following yoga program can be adopted.

i. Surya Namaskar – this must be done facing the early morning sun until the whole body is sweating.

ii. Pranayam – bhastrika and nadishodhan Pranayam should be done every morning. Antar and Bahir kumbhaka, uddiyana Bandha and mula Bandha are also recommended.

iii. Shatkarma – naitik Kunjal and Laghu Shankar Paksh na should be practiced everyday.

iv. Relaxation – in the form of yoga nidra everyday.

v. Diet – light vegetarian diet must be taken. Alkaline foods like fruits, fruit juices and vegetables must be taken. Avoid oil, sweets, salt, dairy products, fried, spicy and refined foods.

Varicose veins

Due to work pressure many people suffer from pain of the varicose veins. The common problem of varicose vein is the exertion and pain at the end of each day. There can be sharp pain at particular points of varicose veins, swelling of the ankles and itching sensation on the skin of the legs. The veins often get dilated and lengthened.

In very severe and incapacitating conditions surgical intervention becomes necessary.

Yoga therapy can be very effective in managing mild-to-moderate conditions of varicose vein problems which gives relief from symptoms and, in some cases, helps to restore the functioning of defective valves.

The asanas that are beneficial are primarily the inverted position asanas which forces the stagnant blood to drain back to the heart and facilitates the damaged veins and valves to regain normal functioning. After every posture relaxation in savasana is necessary.

Sarvangasana should be practiced for a few minutes in the morning and evening as well as whenever the legs become tired and heavy.

Sirsasana is an excellent asana for this condition but this exercise is of an advanced stage so it must be practiced with much caution and definitely under the guidance of an expert yoga trainer.

Other beneficial asanas are sumeru asana, tadasana, pada hastasana and paschimottanasana. Pada sanchalana (cycling) is particularly beneficial for the veins and muscles of the thighs.

The problem of varicose veins do not happen overnight so immediate results of reversing the condition should not be expected and some time must be given to yoga therapy.