Yoga and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in middle age

Communicable/transmissible diseases (e.g., cholera, chickenpox, measles, and malaria) were major problems in the previous centuries. Now, they are pretty much under control (exception being COVID19) with the help of antibiotics, antiseptics, vaccines, etc.

In the present century, we are facing a large number of non-communicable diseases. These are the diseases that are not governed by outside, they are not contagious, but they are due to internal imbalance and malfunctioning of body organs.

Cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, back pain, neck pain, diabetes, obesity, and depression are some of the examples of NCDs.

They can be a result of a combination of factors –

  • Genetic factor – aging population.
  • Environmental factor – ventilation.
  • Physiological factors – lack of healthy diet, physical activity, sleep, and exercise.
  • Behavioral factors – smoking, drug addiction, and harmful use of alcohol.

Let us focus today on the ‘emotion’ component that may lead to the last two factors – physiological and behavioral factors. Negative emotions may lead to stress, anxiety, and tension. These may contribute towards weight gain, addiction, obesity, high glucose levels, high insulin levels, and so on. Yogic way of life can help one take care of these negative emotions.

Yoga philosophy believes in human being made of five sheaths (कोष) or layers of existence –

  1. Physical body (अन्नमय कोष)
  2. Vital body where life energy flows through invisible channels or nadis (प्राणमय कोष)
  3. Mind body (मनोमय कोष)
  4. Intellect body (विज्ञानमय कोष)
  5. Bliss body (आनंदमय कोष)

Harmony in the first three sheaths can be easily disturbed since ego, consciousness predominates in these sheaths. Excessively strong feelings of like or dislike, sorrow or happiness, hatred or love, distort the personality, tense the muscles, deplete energy level, create chronic fatigue, and obstruct the flow of positive energy to the last two sheaths. This disharmony can further block the free movement of bliss, and one may lose inner peace.

To regain inner peace, one may further aggravate the problem by eating the wrong foods, living in unhealthy surroundings, letting negative thoughts enter the mind. The ultimate outcome of this can be physical ailments, diseases, or NCDs.

Following are some of the ways in which one can take care of these negative emotions through daily practice of below yoga poses-

  1. Ushtrasana – With shoulders pushed back, chest expanded and an upward gaze, poses like this may help with enhancement in self-confidence.
    (picture credits Ronan and Millan)
  2. Pada Hastasana – With blood circulation towards head region, poses like this may help with brain relaxation.
    (picture credit Elina K)
  3. Vakrasana – With poses like Vakrasana that involve gazing backward from the top of the shoulder, it may help with enhancing the ability to let go and move on, ability to let go of any past regrets, pains, and sorrows.
    (picture credit Dipti Karmarkar)
  4. Mandukasana – With legs folded at knees and forehead resting on the floor, poses like this may help enhance the ability to be humble, thankful, and respectful.
    (picture credit Bindiya Jinadev)
  5. Makarasana – As the weight of the head is thrown on crossed arms, with peculiar pressure around pineal and thyroid glands, this pose may help improve their secretion and thus calm down the mind.
    (picture credit Sangeeta Gupte)
  6. Supta dandasana – With legs resting on the wall and blood flowing from the toe region to the hip region, there may be an improvement in heart rate variability leading to slowing down of the mind.
    (picture credit Vijay Gupte)
  7. Jalandhar bandh – With chin pressed on the throat and peculiar pressure around pituitary and pineal glands, this bandh may help culture the emotions, heal the spirit, and reduce the tendency to get anxious and angry.
    (picture credit Bindiya Jinadev)
  8. Bhramari pranayama – With the resonance of humming sound reaching the nerves and cells, breathing may slow down, the flow of prana in the head region may regulate and it may help with brain relaxation.
    (picture credit Archana Joshi Paranjape)
  9. Cyclic meditation – Through cycles of stimulation and relaxation, this process may train the mind into relaxing after any needful stimulation in day-to-day life. You can read more about this technique in my blog.

You may perform each pose for 30-60 seconds.

All this is just the tip of the iceberg. The yogic scriptures as well as years of evidence-based research done at Institutions like Svyasa, Bangalore give us a huge resource base to help ourselves with our emotional wellbeing and thus ability to manage non-communicable diseases.

To learn these techniques and take control of your health, contact me at anubuzruk@gmail.com or 847 544 6708 or visit my website www.yoganubhav.com.

I look forward to enriching your life through Yoga practice.

Anupama Buzruk

Certified Yoga Instructor

Currently pursuing

Master of Science – Yoga Therapy

by Anu Buzruk

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