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

How to stay calm, during and after, stressful moments – part 2

Very happy to share the second blog of my series ‘How to stay calm, during and after, stressful moments’. In this blog, I would be sharing a technique developed by my yoga guru Dr. H. R. Nagendra, Chairman of Vivekananda Yoga University located in LA, California, USA, who is also the Chancellor of Svyasa, yoga research Institute located in Bengaluru, India. Through evidence-based research, he has proved that this 30-minute routine, called CYCLIC MEDITATION, enhances positive health to a great extent. Whereas six hours of good sleep reduces metabolic rate by 9%, this routine reduces metabolic rate by 32%. These detailed steps would help you practice this routine as per your convenience or with me in my online class.

This is a safe technique that can be performed by anyone irrespective of energy level, preconditions of health, age, etc. Slow movements and complete awareness of mind are the key factors in this exercise set. This technique is divided in 6 parts for easy understanding.

Part 1:

  1. Lie down on the yoga mat on your back, inhaling deeply, stretch your leg muscles.
  2. Maintain the stretch, exhaling deeply, pull your abdominal muscles.
  3. Maintain the pull, again inhaling deeply, stretch your arm muscles, expand your chest muscles, squeeze your facial muscles.
  4. Then with a sudden exhale, let go the entire body down to the yoga mat.
  5. Now with a gentle inhale, chant the aaa sound and enjoy vibrations of the sound.
  6. Feel the surface awareness of your entire body on the mat. With this instant relaxation process of just two deep breathing rounds, you have helped release any muscle holds, contractions, spasms. You have brought yourself in your yoga room not just at body level but even at mind level.

Part 2:

  1. Slowly getting up from the mat, perform one simple yoga pose namely Ardhakatichakrasana or Half wheel pose. The key is in going into the pose very slowly and mindfully by paying attention to the changes happening in the nerve impulses, blood circulation pattern and heaviness of the muscles while lifting the arm up and then bending the torse sideways.
  2. Feel the pointed awareness around your heels and toes. Feel the linear awareness around outer sides of your feet. While maintaining the side bend, pay attention to the folds on one side of torso and stretch on opposite side of the torso.
  3. Now gently come out of the pose again paying attention to the changes happening around the shoulder, arm, torso. Balance the body by performing the same pose with the other arm. You have stimulated your sympathetic nervous system.

Part 3:

  1. Now again lie down on mat on your back.
  2. Simply pay attention to the abdominal movements during the natural breathing rounds. Slowly start pushing the abdominal wall out during every inhale and simply observe the slow sinking of abdominal wall as you exhale.
  3. After a few breathing rounds, again gently inhale and chant aaa sound and enjoy the resonance of the sound. With this quick relaxation process of a few deep breathing rounds, you have stimulated your parasympathetic nervous system and given relaxation to cells, muscles, and mind.

Part 4:

  1. Slowly getting up from the mat, perform Shashankasana or Rabbit pose. Follow the same method as mentioned in point 2 above. You have given deep forward bend to the spine, but your legs were bent at the knees, so your lower back is safe.
  2. Feel the surface awareness as your forehead rests on the mat, your abdomen and chest rest on the thigh. Pay attention to the blood flowing towards head.
  3. After a gentle inhale, chant humming bee sound. enjoy the resonance of sound in your head region.
  4. Feel the heart beats and have a 3D awareness throughout your body. After a few breaths, slowly raise the torso up and come out of the pose.

Part 5:

  1. Now balance the body by going into gentle backward bend of Ardha-ushtrasana or Half camel pose following same method as point 2 above. Feel the expansion of chest, activation of throat region, stretching of abdominal wall, relaxed neck muscles as the head hangs freely down.
  2. Take a gentle inhale, chant aaa sound and enjoy the vibrations. After a few breaths, come out of the backward bend of spine. Feel the nerve impulses, feel the heart beats. During the process, you have stimulated your sympathetic nervous system again.

Part 6:

  1. One last time lie down on mat on your back. Spend some ten minutes in this position. Imagine, you are exhaling through one body part each time and relaxing it. After mentally travelling through all parts from toes to head, just pay attention to rhythmic movement of your chest and abdomen along with the breath.
  2. Now imagine, with every exhale, along with the carbon dioxide, you are throwing out any anger, pain, sorrow, fatigue, ego, fear, hatred, jealousy, lethargy. Imagine, with each inhale, along with the air intake, you are taking in the joy, serenity, peace, happiness, forgiveness, contentment. Take a gentle inhale, chant aaa sound and enjoy the vibrations. With this deep relaxation process, you are giving further deep relaxation to all your muscles, cells, organs, glands, and nerves.

During the 30-minute routine, you have enhanced the sense of perception of your sensory organs, expanded your awareness throughout the body. As you repeat this exercise few times a week, the training will come handy while handing stressors. While the sympathetic nervous system is taking care of the stressors, the muscles will remain in deep relaxation, breath will not go haphazard, heart beats will not lose their rhythm, mind will remain calm.

Thank you for reading! Special thanks to Deepali Kale for yoga poses.

Join me to practice this technique, on March 28, at 9 am CST. I look forward to seeing you. The nominal fee for this session is $10 and 50% of it will be donated to Svyasa yoga research institute.

As always, my goal is to enrich everyone’s life with yoga.

Anu Buzruk

How to stay calm, during and after stressful moments!

In our day-to-day life, we all face many situations where quick action is required at our mind, body, and brain level. For example, milk is about to spill while boiling in the pan, baby about to pee while without diaper, online session about to end while still few important points to be conveyed in the meeting, and so on.

Taking care of these stressors, needs activation of Sympathetic Nervous System, release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, increase in blood pressure, and heart rate. This entire stimulation helps one deal with the stressors and bring situation under control. But, once the situation is under control, and if one does not slow down, stress may affect the person at mind level and psychosomatic diseases like hypertension, asthma, and diabetes may start surfacing.

How do we slow down our systems, so the stressors do not lead to these diseases? How do we train the mind to go into relaxation mode after these stimulating situations? The answer is Yoga!

There are many yoga practices which alternate between activation of Sympathetic Nervous System and Parasympathetic Nervous System and lead to slowing down our emotions.

Asanas like Mandukasana or Frog Pose (Figure 1) stimulate the digestive system with constant pressure on abdomen and at the same time let the blood flow towards head region and relax the brain.

Picture Credit – Bindiya Jinadev

Relaxation postures like Makarasana or Crocodile Pose (Figure 3) activate the thyroid glands and at the same time relax the mind by improving the secretion of pineal and pituitary glands.

Pranayama or breathing exercises like Bhramari or Humming Bee breath create vibrations in the head region causing reduction in the heart rate.

Bandhas like Jalandhar bandh or Chin Lock (Figure 2) activate the pineal and pituitary glands and calm down the mind.

Meditation techniques like Aum meditation and Chakra meditation slow down the breathing rate and slow down the mind. 

These practices train us into being more mindful about the breathing pattern, enhance the awareness and thus the body learns to go into relaxation mode after the needful stimulation phase is over.

The highest benefit is achieved through the cyclic meditation where one goes through cycle of stimulation and relaxation in a 30-minute process of activating sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system alternatively. 

Stay tuned to know more about this technique in my next blog.

Until then keep practicing Yoga on a daily basis!

Anu Buzruk

Therapeutic Yoga Teacher

www.yoganubhav.com