Archive for July, 2011

Latest scientific research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Duke University suggests that we can free ourselves from chronic pain by meditation. Meditation reduced pain more than morphine or other pain-reducing drugs. Participants in the study were taught to focus their attention on the breath and to let go of distracting thoughts and emotions. (See Pranayama breathing practices.)

Jonah Lehrer, in his article,  “Thinking Away Pain” in The Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2011 issue, writes:

“A brain scanner showed how the intervention worked. Learning to meditate altered brain activity in the very same regions, such as the insula and anterior cingulate cortex, that are targeted by next-generation pain medications. It’s as if the subjects were administering their own painkillers.”


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Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are being being offered “yogic method of relaxation” at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The military hopes that “yoga-based treatments will be more acceptable to the soldiers and less stigmatizing than traditional psychotherapy,”  according to an article in the April 2009 issue of Harvard Health Publications. Psychologists at Walter Reed now use yoga and yogic relaxation (Yoga Nidra) in post-deployment post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) awareness courses.

For more information, visit the April 9, 2009 issue of Harvard Health Publications.

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Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) is not restricted to war veterans. Yoga meditation is proving to be very effective according to the article “War to Peace” in the the latest available online issue of the magazine Australian Yoga Life. It describes how trataka, full yogic breath, ujjayi pranayama, Yoga Nidra, sankalpa (positive affirmation) have helped Vietnam veterans in Tasmania. This will not surprise those of you who have found Yoga Nidra enormously helpful in overcoming emotional pain.

The magazine is an excellent free online resource. The article “Kleshas” on p. 34, and “Playing it Safe: Virabhadrasana 2” on p. 52 are recommended.

A permanent link to the website is being added under Blogroll.

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This 18-minute clip, Swami Satyadharma on Pratyahara, is highly recommended. Swami Satyadharma, a direct disciple of Swami Satyananda answers a question on pratyahara (sense withdrawal) as part of a yogic studies course in Australia. Her answer goes to the heart of meditation. She is an engaging speaker.

Our Wednesday group will find the message familiar as we had been going over the same theme in practice and theory for many years. Mindfulness associated with Buddhist meditation is the same as dhyana (paying attention) and pratyahara in yoga meditation. They come from the same source of knowledge. There is no meditation without an alert attention, the spectator, the witness, sakshi bhav.

The articles “What is Yoga?” and “What is Meditation?” will help refresh the message for a perhaps better meditation practice. A reminder every now and then can be helpful.

A small difference in point of view with Swami Satyadharma is that we do believe that psychologists and psychotherapy are important and an  essential part of treatment for many people.

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The following research study appeared in the Indian Journal of Medical Research 131, May 2010, p 636-640

Effect of pranayama and asana on cognitive brain functions in type 2 diabetes-P3 event related evoked potential (ERP)

Tenzin Kyizom, Savita Singh, K.P. Singh, O.P. Tandon & Rahul Kumar

“Background & objectives: Electrophysiological evidence of delayed cognition as measured by P300, an evoked potential is observed in Diabetes mellitus. P300 (or P3) is a component of endogenous cerebral evoked response that assesses higher functions of the brain. Our study aims to see the role of pranayama and yoga-asana on P300 latency and amplitude in type 2 diabetic patients.”

“Results: Statistically significant improvement in the latency and the amplitude of N200, P300 was observed in the yoga group as compared to the control group.”

“Interpretation & conclusions: Our data suggest that yoga has a beneficial effect on P300 and thus can be incorporated along with the conventional medical therapy for improving cognitive brain functions in diabetes.”

The study also found a significant reduction in hyperglycemia and a decrease in the drugs usage when yoga therapy was incorporated. The study lists the simple asanas and pranayamas that were used in the study.

We suggest reading the whole study.

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Happy July 4th to all our US readers! Mahasri Yoga is a year old today. Thank you for visiting and coming together in our boundless, shared universal space. When thousands from over 30 countries reach out in the spirit of peace on this and other websites that carry the same message, it renews our commitment.

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Here are some reminders for summer yoga:

Avoid doing asanas in direct sunlight, except at dawn or dusk.

Do not do dynamic sun salutations, especially 12 rounds. It may overheat the body.  Switch to a more passive sequence that allows the body time to settle and rest in each asana for a comfortable amount of time.

Chair yoga is not strenuous and if your body is comfortable with it, it is fine to practice in a comfortable, cool room.

Avoid agnisar, bhastrika, kapalbhati, and surya bhedha. Instead practice sitali and seetkari, the two cooling breaths. Non-heating breaths are fine.

Happy July4th!

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