YOGA THERAPY IN ASTHMA, DIABETES AND HEART DISEASE

( By The Yoga Institute )

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The Killer Punch

One five morning, over tea, you hear the news that MD, your neighbour, the Chief Executive of a big firm in the city is hospitalized. He fainted on the staircase because of severe pain in the chest. MD is known for his enormous capacity for doing things, is an eminent organiser and is the pillar of the whole office - the business firm he has established.

Now you wonder as to the reason for the collapse of MD who is by no means cruel or unrighteous. He has built up his empire by his own efforts. So he is not being punished by God in heaven for his ignoble deeds.

What could then explain his present crisis? He is simply paying the penalty for his life style. One wonders why such a heavy punishment, simply, for hectic living…..

Yes, MD is only one among those thousands of Type 'A' personalities - as they are called. Such hyperactive people are easily prone to heart diseases because of their involvement in the rat race in a highly competitive world.

MD never bothered about the danger signals, Nor did he heed to the sane advice of his friend who repeatedly told him to cut down his activities and devote more time to himself. He had no time even to listen to such antiquated homilies. But a little more attention to such 'grandmama' advice would have spared him, his present plight.

The excruciating pain he had, was due to 'Angina Pectoris,' the disease caused by clogging of the arteries with fatty plaques (or in medical terminology, 'atherosclerosis'), that ends up in a heart attack. Rightly, heart attacks have been called the killer disease of the 20th century.

Some of the victims who had suffered from the onslaught of the enemy and some others who wanted to escape from its clutches, took shelter at The Yoga Institute for a week. They were from different walks of life and engaged in different responsible vocations. Within seven days they mastered the tricks to keep their common enemy at bay.

Heart attacks take place when blood supply to the heart is completely cut off due to blockage of the coronary arteries. But the complete blockage does not take place in a day. It develops gradually over many years. The blockage can happen due to variety of reasons: the linings of the arteries get thickened and roughened by deposits of fatty material, much of which is cholesterol. This phenomenon, in medical terms, is known as artherosclerosis.

In such a condition, lesser blood flows through the narrowed coronary arteries and when it cannot meet the demands of the heart, the heart suffers and the patient will suddenly have severe pain over the heart. This disease is called Angina Pectoris. Angina Pectoris literally means the 'Cry of the Heart.'

Angina Pectoris only indicates that coronary circulation is impaired. If the build up of fatty deposits in the coronary arteries continues unchecked, one artery or another will become fully blocked rather than merely getting narrowed. In the next instant that part of the heart is without blood supply, and within five minutes, the heart muscle may suffer severe damage or death. The is Heart Attack, or Myocardial Infarction as it is medically termed.

If your faulty way of living has contributed to atherosclerosis, it is now scientifically established that a change in life style and diet can bring about a regression in atherosclerosis. But to achieve this, one has to cultivate certain healthy habits and attitudes as well as abstain from some bad habits.

It is true that we don't have any control over factors like age, sex, heredity which contribute to the disease. For example, if both the parents have a history of heart attacks, the chance of an attack in the offspring increase four times. As far as the age is concerned, heart attacks occur mostly in middle age. As regards sex, males are more vulnerable than females. There are, however, several other areas where we have control. The aim of Coronary Care Camp was to identify those areas which can be helped by Yoga so as to avoid expensive and complicated medical treatment and surgical intervention.

The Cardiac Camp, the first of its kind to be held in The Yoga Institute, Santa Cruz, was organized under the guidance of the eminent cardiologist, Dr. S. R. Shah. From his long years of experience in treating patients, he was convinced that the philosophical insights as well as the relaxation techniques which Yoga offers would help the body and mind to cope with stress. The role of stress and tension, as we know, is particularly predominant in heart diseases.

BL BYPASSES THE BY-PASS

Dr. Shah had seen this in the case of the heart patient BL who used to play tennis. Because of his heart problems, BL was restricted from playing tennis. His Electrocardiogram (ECG) showed definite changes indicative of poor blood circulation. He was asked to follow Yogic instructions while continuing to take his medicines. After two months, when the ECG was repeated, he was found to be completely normal. His heart was no longer suffering from Ischaemia i.e. deficiency of blood. Later, one more check-up showed that circulation in the heart had returned to normal. The reports were independently assessed by a cardiologist of Jaslok Hospital, Bombay, who confirmed the return of normal heart function. Now BL can play tennis again, if he wants.

Dr. S. R. Shah is now convinced that by giving more time to oneself and by cultivating certain good habits it is possible to avoid by-pass surgery. Generally, patients in whom by- pass surgery is to be avoided without yogic measures, are advised to surgery is to be avoided without yogic measures, are advised to restrict their activities or even take complete bed rest in the house. This kind of treatment takes six months to one year. Unfortunately, during this time some patients may suffer another attack. In Western countries too, some patients are being treated through diet, exercise and modern drugs, but without surgery. There, it has been seen that at least six to nine months elapse before results are achieved and the patients become normal. But with the help of Yoga, similar results are achieved within two months. Consequently, more and more doctors and patients are trying to avoid by - pass surgery.

The Yoga philosophy emphasizes that a changed lifestyle and thinking can help in managing heart disease. Yoga shows the path to enable a person to remain relaxed in all situations.

SK AND HIS EGO TRIP

For SK the approach advocated by the Institute was almost the confirmation of views he had already acquired from life. He strongly felt that all the Campers must actually start practising the techniques and methods recommended by Dr. Jayadeve. But SK still doubted whether he would be able to achieve whatever he wanted from the Camp. As the Camp progressed, he started feeling more and more confident of achieving good health and had become very positive when he left.

SK earlier had seen a number of doctors regarding his problem and each one of them had told him, " You are in for another attack." It was finally the advice of a naturopath which brought him a new light. "Why must you have another attack?" the naturopath asked. The same day he left allopathic treatment. Later when he read about the Coronary Care Camp at The Yoga Institute, he did not waste any further moment. He quietly landed in Bombay.

Earlier SK used to get caught up in his work. From the Institute he gained a new insight towards work: that performing your duties with the attitude of a Karma Yogi, it is possible to function calmly and efficiently without being crushed by the workload. This way the work, which upto this time had been a strain, became transformed into a therapy. Just a small change in attitude, but what a miraculous effect.

SK, the busy business executive was puzzled at first about the person who would be taking up the responsibility for his health. But at the Institute, he was repeatedly told to leave this responsibility to a Higher Reality which runs the show. SK after all, was only a part of the show. This revelation was a terrific blow to SK's ego, because all these years he had been thinking that he was running the show. His huge business establishment, house, family, children's education…everything he considered to be revolving around him. But now, when told that he was only part of a larger process, that he should have faith in a higher reality which not only moves this samll planet earth, but the Cosmos itself, it came as a big jolt to his ego. SK later confessed that the newly-acquired humility had given him a new hope in life, a peace, which he had not known before.

When SK turned up for follow-up after a month, he reported that he was able to function well at work and at home. There was no breathlessness, cough or headache. He also could relax better. The measurements of his blood pressure and pulse were found to be normal. He had been doing his practices daily and also following the dietary regime.

SK. Is now convinced that Yoga will help him to face life in a much better way, and with much lesser tensions and problems. But the most important realisation he got, was that even the greatest cardiologist doesn't know everything that is happening to a patient. Even when the doctor advises his patients to relax, the doctor himself is not able to relax!

One very effective method of relaxation that SK found was Nispanda bhava. It was so easy that even in the midst of the intense activity, he could find some time to relax and energize himself.

JM THE PERFECTIONIST

In the course of his lectures the next day, Dr. Jayadeva stressed the need to have more acceptance towards the good as well as the unpleasant aspects of life, the shortcomings of others and not to be a perfectionist in his job, a big official. His insistence on perfection and lack of acceptance of others had given him a considerable amount of strain. After the lectures, in his personal interview he confessed, that for the first time he had realized that there was much more to life than his narrow way of thinking and what was being affected was his own ego. The pursuit of a higher reality will help him not to be caught up in petty incidents of everyday life.

The whole purpose of life is not a big name in the office or popularity but to know oneself. That is another aspect The Yoga Institute is emphasizing - philosophical framework to life.

When there is no framework of reference, one works for smaller things in life which in turn consume all energy. In fact, without the right attitude, relaxation is almost impossible. But when a patient is treated in parts without considering him as a whole person, the outcome is not satisfactory. Sometimes drugs like 'blockers' are prescribed for blocking excessive strain on the heart caused by mental tension or over exertion. Similarly for calming the patient, drugs like Valium, Calmpose and others are also prescribed. Here the tension can be removed for only a limited amount of time. What yoga offers is incomparable because it is for a whole lifetime.

RK GETS A NEW LIFE

A motivation to live was the most important thing RK gained from the camp. RK is retired from his service and felt useless with a lot if time on his hands and nothing to do. He seemed quite depressed when he joined the camp. The camp made him aware of his Dharma. For the first time he was aware of the hierarchy of duties. He came to know that the most important duty of a person is maintaining good health, preventing disease, keeping a stable mind full of positivity and paying attention to good routines including diet. Hence it becomes essential to understand one's own duties towards oneself and then towards society. This realization helped RK to know the importance of duties towards oneself and society. He realized the need to use time without wasting it. Earlier he used to feel that the family obligations came first. Thus, he used to work even at the cost of his own health. The concept of hierarchy of duties is now sinking into him and he knows perfectly well that without his own existence he cannot do anything. He always remembers the lines Dr. Jayadeva quoted in a session, "My friend, you struggle, slog and get wealth, name, fame but what is the sense if you are not there?"

By the end of the camp, he could come out of his depression because the camp kept him busy, leaving no time to feel useless. Since then he has tried to do something worthwhile. He has joined the teachers training course at the Institute. He has found a new purpose in life. He feels that by propagating yoga after his training he can do valuable service to the society. Now RK is a totally changed man. He has little time to kill. He practices Asanas regularly and takes long walks. He tries to follow whatever he has had no complaints. Now he climbs stairs without being breathless.

SG LEARNS A LESSON

But change is not a very easy thing for everyone. It requires a lot of commitment and flexibility. So, it is no wonder if we find it hard to change our habits which have become a part of ourselves. SG found it so difficult to change the habit of reading the newspaper in the morning as soon as he got up, that he could not resist the temptation of buying one from the newspaper boy who came to deliver the paper at the Institute. But from that incident he could learn something valuable. In the morning before we try to understand the world around us, we should spend some time in knowing ourselves, to prepare for the day.

It was basically towards that end that the day for the campers started with a session in which a seed thought was planted in their minds, thus conditioning them for the whole day.

Even though changing small habits was difficult for him, faith in yoga and Dr. Jayadeva and the attitude of perseverance helped him considerably. Within two months he showed a lot of improvement.

In a way SG was quite reluctant to join the camp because he was totally against the simultaneous use of allopathic drugs and also a cardiologist getting involved in the Camp. But here again it was his faith in Dr. Jayadeva's assurance that no allopathic drugs would be administered to him which made him join the Camp. His faith in Dr. Jayadeva has also helped him to accept his present work about which he used to worry a lot. Additionally, small responsibilities assigned to the Campers during his stay inculcates and attitude of a karma yogi.

The Institute not only gives importance to attitudes but to diet and exercise, as well. Low caloric diet constitutes an integral part of the Camp's routine. KL, another Camper could thus reduce three kilos within three months after attending the Camp.

 

APPROXIMATE CALORIC VALUES OF DIFFERENT COMMON FOODS

30 gram. of bread 1 slice = 75 calories.
5 gram. Butter (1 teaspoon) = 35 calories.
15 gram. Chapati (1 thin)= 50 calories.
16 gram. Puri (1)= 70 calories.
parotha (1)= 250 calories.
6 ounce Dal (1 vati) = 200 calories.
100 gram. Potato (1) = 80 calories.
6 ounce Green vegetable (1) = 75 calories.
20 gram. potato chips 10 pieces = 100 calories.
210 gram. plain rice 1 vati = 250 calories.
100 gram. average fruit = 60 calories.
8 ounce coconut water 1 glass = 45 calories.
5 gram. sugar 1 teaspoon = 20 calories.
6 ounce cold drink 1 bottle = 80 calories.
15 gram. groundnut 1 tsp.= 90 calories.

CALORIES SPENT DURING PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
In calories/Kg. of body wt./hr.
Walking (3 miles/hr.)
(4 miles/hr.)
(5.3 miles/hr)
2 cal/kg/hr.
3.4
9.3
Reading aloud0.4
Writing0.5
Standing relaxed 0.5
Ironing (5 pd. Iron) 1 calories.
Dish Washing1 calories.
Lying awake0.1

SUGGESTED CALORIC REQUIREMENT AS PER AGE AND WORK
Dietary requirements:
25-45 yearsWt. 45 Kg. Sedentary work = 1850 calories.
45 and more Wt. 45 Kg. Sedentary work = 1750 calories.
25-45 and 45 moreWt. 55 Kg. Moderate work = 2800 calories.
25-45+45 and more Wt. 45 Kg. Moderate = 2200 calories.
25.45 yearsWt. 45 Kg. Heavy = 3000 calories.
Professional, clerks,Sedentary
librarians Moderate
Heavy vehicle driver
LabourerHeavy


In obese persons the risk of getting heart attack is one-and-a half times more as compared to that of a person with normal weight. If a person does not have regular physical activity, the calories derived from food are in excess of the deposition of one gram of fat, finally ending in obesity. So in order to reduce weight, a person has to reduce the intake of calories and increase physical activity.

A study published in the "Journal of American Medical Association" showed that a low-caloric diet can lower blood cholesterol levels and help prevent coronary arteries from clogging. The basic process that causes coronary artery disease can thus be reversed at the level of the artery wall.

The University of Southern California findings indicate that a drug and diet treatment can stabilize, if not improve, many of the Coronary patients. This study tells that only if the diet fails then one should go for drugs. Lowering your cholesterol level is the first step towards cutting the risk of heart disease.

According to Dr. S. R. Shah, even though there are drugs that help in reducing cholesterol and triglycerides, these reduce fat in one place and deposit it somewhere else. Moreover such drugs will have many side effects, and may cause nausea, light-headedness or drowsiness and may react dangerously with alcohol, tobacco, sedatives or even with body's exposure to heat and sunlight.

While taking care of the diet, the Institute stresses on physical activity. Most of the Campers had sedentary jobs. So the Campers were advised to walk as many rounds as possible at regular intervals. Dr. Paul Dudley Hart, the world renowned heart specialist himself practices walking three to four miles everyday. The Asanas practised by the Campers were also aimed at exercising sluggish muscles.

In fact medical profession also recommends now a more active life for the recovered patient than it did in the past. Only a few years ago the survivor of a heart attack spent weeks or even months in complete bed rest and avoided exercise indefinitely. Today he nay begin an exercise programme under medical supervision before he leaves the hospital.

The object is to put the patient back in charge of his own life as quickly as possible. Once the cardiologist has done his work, the patient shares the responsibility of regaining his health by weight reduction, good diet, stress avoidance, and abstinence from smoking. To keep healthy the patient has to be his own doctor.

The Camp also restricted many of the unhealthy habits like smoking, tobacco chewing or snuff. According to Dr. Farquhar, an eminent heart specialist, if smoking had never become a common habit, one-half of the heart diseases would have been eliminated. In chain smokers, the risk factors increases six times.Besides a regular diet, exercise programme, the group meetings as well as the personal meetings with Dr. Jayadeva helped the patients to sort out many of their emotional problems. The atmosphere at the Camp was that of an Ashram where a person's mental, emotional and physical problems were taken into consideration. This atmosphere was in sharp contrast to that of a clinic where a person is treated at the physical level only.

It was therefore a holiday trip to a health resort, and not just a 'Health Camp.'

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