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June - July 2004


Yoga: Route to a Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body

by Anita Dalvi

For the pre-historic caveman, procurement of food was the only form of stress. As we became civilized, our needs started growing, resulting in increase of stress in geometrical progression. It became obvious that riches with associated comforts did not ensure happiness and peace. Conquest of happiness became more and more elusive. Bertrand Russell's book on the subject did not serve as a magic potion.

The first step to happiness could be a healthy mind in a healthy body. Scientific advice for the purpose is eating healthy food, regular exercise, and avoidance of drugs including alcohol and tobacco and judicial use of modern medicines to control Diabetes, Hypertension, Hyper-lipidimia and other less common metabolic disorders. This could be usefully complimented by the use of yoga, meditation, and techniques of Art of Living. This article will restrict itself to use of yoga only. A bit of spiritual consideration will not be out of place here. To begin with one should try to free his heart of hatred, and the mind of worry. One could make it a point to give more and expect less.

The various practices of Yoga are so exhaustive that they cover the entire gamut of techniques meant for attaining positive health of mind and body. They strengthen cellular and hormonal defense mechanisms and can be used also for regular treatment of diseases of various systems of the body. Ancient literature has recorded successful treatment of various acute and chronic illnesses merely by judicial application of suitable yogic techniques. Yoga in combination with modern medicines could cause miracles to happen. But alas! There is a hitch. Yogis are not doctors and have hardly any knowledge of modern medicine. So also only a very few learned and talented doctors have studied yoga in depth to be able to use it with modern medicine. Although it is just not possible for yogis to study advanced medicine, it is comparatively easier for top medical men to study yoga in depth and use it judiciously with modern medicine for the benefit of suffering humanity.

Scientific evaluation of yoga has begun but the number of studies are very limited. Datey and Dalvi et al. have published their study on Shavasana in the treatment of Hypertension in Angiology a medical journal published from U.S.A. and having a huge circulation amongst doctors all over the world. Bhujangasana and Shalabhasana have been proved to be boons in the management of cervical and lumbar spondylosis. There are some yogic practices like yogamudra which have been shown to benefit patients of Diabetes Mellitus. Many cases of advanced coronary artery disease in which by-pass surgery was advocated have been successfully treated by prudent diet, exercise, avoidance of tobacco, practice of yoga, along with modern therapy to control hypertension, diabetes, high lipid levels etc. These patients who were unable to walk even a few steps are now in a position to walk several miles, climb any heights, and work hard and for long hours without experiencing any untoward symptoms. Their Cardiograms have improved beyond recognition and the stress test has become negative. 2-D Echo shows marked increase in ejection fraction. Some of these patients who were subjected to coronary angiography were seen to have normal angiograms.

Number of studies are required by top medical men having also in depth knowledge of yoga to tap the true therapeutic potential of yoga. Regular yoga is one of the best stress busters and can prevent all the stress related diseases and help each one of us to lead a more healthy life. The gigantic role of yoga in prevention as well as treatment of several serious diseases cannot be overemphasized. Being simple to learn and requiring no equipment, it is the cheapest form of aid in achieving and maintaining good health.

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