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Yoga Practices

Desktop Yoga

Gentle exercise for workplace wellness and efficiency

According to the statistics, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) & Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) have dramatically increased in the past years, since the evolution of the personal computer. In United States, more workers are injured using a computer keyboard than operating any other tool.

Checklist for Prevention
The most important thing to do is to take your eyes off, your computer screen and gaze into the far distance every half an hour. Drink a glass of water at a regular interval of time. Stay aware of your posture while you are sitting on your chair. During the lunch break involve yourself in physical exercises. Include full body stretch in your daily activity. Check that your workstation is set up correctly. Computer screen should be at eye level or below the eye level. Follow some exercise programmes that include upper body strength. The programme must also include exercise for flexibility, to stretch out the contracted muscles of the wrist, arm, shoulder, neck and upper back. Stretch your body before you go to bed at night. Observe your sleeping positions. Make sure that you have the right pillow height for sleeping. The neck should be supported, but too many pillows will create problems as well. The neck should be in line with the rest of the spine.

What are the solutions?
Easy Desktop Yoga is a series of exercises based on yoga and designed specifically for working people. Simple and easy modified yoga exercises help you to calm, invigorate and relax. Desktop Yoga is the perfect solution for those who want a simple, relaxing workout which they can perform while sitting at their desks. It is excellent for reducing stress during a long workday. This programme targets the muscles that are mostly affected while sitting for a long period of time. It is divided by body part, so you can choose how long you want to work out.

Recommended Yoga Exercises
Here are some desktop yoga-based exercises which can be done in the office during the course of the day to help prevent CTS and RSI. Hold the positions for a few breaths and let the stretch increase, but do not force it. The most important part of each exercise is to become aware of your body and breathe.

Full body stretch-Tad Asana (Tree Pose): Exhale and inhaling take both the arms up above the head from the sides and join the palms at the top. Lift the heels and stand on the toes and pull the whole body upward. Continue smooth breathing. Pull the hands upward as much as possible.

Internal Effects: In this asana all the muscles stretch in one direction at one time and then relaxed. This process helps to remove all the strains. The muscles get rest and relaxed.

Hand Exercise: Sit straight. Keep both your hands straight forward. Make strong fist & open it. Repeat it for 10 times with enough strength. Make strong fist and rotate clockwise 10 times and anti-clockwise 10 times. Pull your both hands with strength while inhaling and push your both hands forward while exhaling.

Shaking out Tension: Shake out your wrists and arms, letting them dangle from your shoulders. Rotate your shoulders forward and back.

Neck Exercises: Sit straight on your chair with feet firmly on the floor. Keep your hand straight on the seat back. Extend the torso and drop the chin into the chest.

First set: While inhaling turn your head to the left side and hold for 10 seconds. Exhaling turns your head to the right side and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat it twice. Come to the centre while inhaling. Tilt your head down to the right and hold for 10 seconds. Tilt your head left and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat it twice and come to the centre. While inhaling tilt your head back and hold for 10 seconds. Exhaling tilt your head down and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat it twice and come to the centre. While inhaling tilt your head back and rotate your head slowly clockwise and anticlockwise for 5 rounds. Come to the centre.

Second set: Place your right palm on your right side of the head and resist. Repeat from left side as well. Place both your palms on your forehead and resist. Interlock your fingers to place it in your back of the head and resist.

Release the Neck: Shrug the shoulders high up to the ears and then release and drop. Repeat at least 3 times.

Back Exercise (Forward Bending): Sit on a chair, spread the legs apart. Stretch both arms up and then bend forward, placing both palms on the floor. Hold on to the posture for 10-25 seconds and release. Repeat the same movement 5 times.

Opening the Chest: Interlock your fingers behind your back with the palms facing the torso. Roll the shoulders back, but keep the ribs from poking forward. Stretch your elbows and arms on the exhale and hold it for a few breaths. On the exhale, bend your elbows and bring your wrists to the right side waist, gently pressing the right elbow towards the left. Release and do the other side.

Opening the mid-back (Hug your body): Hug your body, placing the right hand on your left shoulder and left hand on your right shoulder. Breathe into the area between your shoulder blades. Exhaling brings the arms straight down, the palms facing each other. Stretch the fingers up, and on the next exhale, raise the elbows up to shoulder height. Hold for a few breaths and then repeat on the other side.

Back Exercise (Side Stretching): Hold chair with one hand. Stretch the other arm up and bend sideways. Hold on to the posture for 10-25 seconds and release. Come back to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Repeat it thrice.

Pawanmuktasana (Abdominal Massage): Sit straight on a chair, bend your right leg, interlock your fingers and hold your knee. While exhaling pull your knee up to the chest. Hold for 20 seconds, release it while inhaling. Repeat it with the left side as well.

Ardhamatsyasana (Twisting the Torso): With the feet planted firmly in the ground and the thigh bones pressing into your chair, inhale to take your right leg up and cross it to the left side. Place your right hand straight on the chair. Hold your knee with left hand and press on the abdomen while exhaling. Inhale to take it up and exhale to bring it down. Repeat it with the other leg as well. Remember to keep breathing slowly and deeply as you twist.

Leg Exercise: While standing place your one leg on chair and stretch your toes hamstring muscle by pulling your toes in. While inhaling takes both your legs up and exhaling bend forward keeping your back straight. Try to hold your toes with both the hands. Hold for 20 seconds. Inhaling come up. Repeat it with other side as well.

Relax the Eyes: Turn your head right and left, looking into the far distance with your eye gaze. Close your eyes and take some deep, slow breaths with your belly soft. You can do it without moving your head as well.

Sahaj Pranayama: Sit in a chair with a straight back. Close the eyes and relax, keeping the spine and body straight. Focus all attention on the navel region – the point of fire in the body. Inhale deeply; tilt your chin down to touch collar bone. Hold your breath for a count of 10. Raise your chin up and exhale through the mouth. Repeat the three stages of this cycle in a rhythmic fashion. Practice up to 5 rounds.

Don’ts: People with cervical spondylosis should not press the chin down. They can keep their chin up.

Kapalabhati: Sit in a comfortable position with a straight spine. Take two or three deep inhales and exhales. Inhale deeply to exhale sharply and forcefully through the nostrils, drawing the belly in as you exhale and producing a puffing sound. Let the inhalation happen passively, and continue this cycle of forceful exhalation and passive inhalation at a fast pace, so that the belly is pumping continuously. At the same time, receive auto suggestion about increased flow of blood circulation, detoxification and vitalization of the vital organs viz. kidney, small intestine, large intestine, prostate gland, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen and lungs etc.
Practice the process for 2.5-15mins. You may take short breaks when you start out on this yogic breathing exercise.

Benefits: Kapalbhati means the exercise which makes the forehead luminous & lustrous. This Pranayama supplies pure life energy to the brain. It increases the blood circulation in the brain and removes blood clots, thereby improving the memory power. Other than this the toxins and foreign substances from the body are evacuated. It cures cold, sinusitis, allergy, tension and other diseases. It is very useful in case of phlegm, skin disease, asthma, heart diseases, low blood pressure, depression, tiredness, laziness, sleeplessness, migraine, joint pain, obesity, diabetes, constipation, indigestion, acidity, gastric problem and other diseases pertaining to the kidneys and prostate gland etc. are also cured. As a result, the whole body becomes healthy and disease free.

(Courtesy: Nisargopchar August’2015)

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Does the Mother’s Mind Bend the Baby before It is Born?

True maternity begins with the conscious creation of a being, with the willed shaping of a soul coming to develop and utilize a new body.

– THE MOTHER (of Sri Aurobindo Ashram)

According to a news item published today (The Times of India, 14 June 2017, p. 1)  the Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy (CCRYN) has published a booklet ‘Mother and Child Care’ advising pregnant women to avoid bad company, bad feelings and non-vegetarian food. As expected, the advice has been ridiculed because it ‘lacks rationale’, forgetting that all scientific knowledge, which is based on reason, is tentative and therefore subject to revision. Leaving aside the debate on the place that reason should occupy in life, let us look at the issue with an open mind, which is a far more essential component of the scientific temper than rationality. An open mind is free of prejudice, preconceived notions, and is willing to unlearn, if necessary for going beyond what one already knows.

The intimate physical and physiological link that unites the mother and the baby during pregnancy is too obvious to need any elaboration. What is not so obvious is that the body and the mind are manifestations of something even more subtle than the mind, and that is consciousness. One mode of consciousness can affect another mode of consciousness. The mother’s mind and body, the growing child’s mind and body, and the food that the mother eats are, in the final analysis, different modes of the same Supreme Consciousness. In fact, there is an all-pervasive unified field of consciousness that can make thoughts and feelings at one place lead to physical changes on the other side of the globe. If this sounds strange, unbelievable, and irrational, ask a physicist well-versed in modern theoretical physics, and he will tell you that this phenomenon is consistent with physics as well as spirituality. If that is possible, why can’t we be open to the mother’s mind affecting the baby’s mind and body while it is in the mother’s womb? Ayurveda knew long ago that the effect exists; modern medicine is slowly coming to terms with it.

The Mother (of Sri Aurobindo Ashram) had once seen two beautiful little girls, twins, whose beauty had the perfection of a child in a painting by Reynolds. The girls resembled neither parent, but it so transpired that the girls’ mother had looked at consciously, throughout pregnancy, especially just before going to bed, and on getting up in the morning, a painting by Reynolds, and had prayed that she give birth to a child as beautiful as the child in the painting. The physical features offer much more resistance to any modifying influence than do thoughts and feelings. Therefore, if even the body of her child can be affected by the thoughts of a pregnant mother, it should be easier to influence the child’s mind during pregnancy. Hence the process of creating a new life through maternity can be a conscious process. The mother’s thoughts and feelings during pregnancy can shape the consciousness of the baby developing in her womb.

It seems a few doctors have also ‘rubbished’ the advice carried in the CCRYN booklet. The doctors do not necessarily have to learn theoretical physics or delve into spirituality to comment on the merits of the advice. Unfortunately, the doctors are not taught anything about the ‘latest’ developments in consciousness-based medicine, on which Larry Dossey, an American physician, has by now written several well-referenced paperbacks. Dossey calls consciousness-based medicine ‘non-local medicine’, perhaps to sound more scientific. The key discovery, or rather re-discovery, of these recent studies is that the healing intentions of a genuinely loving and compassionate person, even if he is not a doctor, can promote recovery from even a bodily illness. The positive effect is seen even if the patient is not aware of these healing intentions directed at him, and it can take place across long distances. If that can happen, why can’t the mother’s mind affect the growing baby in the womb? Baby steps in this direction were taken about twenty years ago in the Mecca of modern medicine in India, AIIMS, New Delhi, where it was demonstrated that music played to fertilized eggs could affect the development of the brain in chicks. About the food that the pregnant women should have, the doctors have said that the advice to avoid non-vegetarian food is ‘wrong’ because a pregnant woman needs more protein. It is an open secret that doctors are not taught much about nutrition during their training. A pregnant woman needs not only more protein, she also needs more energy. If the extra energy that a pregnant woman needs as compared to the non-pregnant state is supplied through a mixture of cereals and pulses, and some milk and milk products, the protein requirement will take care of itself. All that it needs to reach this conclusion is to sit down with the bible of nutritionists, ‘The Nutritive Value of Indian Foods’, published by the Indian Council of Medical Research, and do a few simple calculations (By the way, it is not a new book: the first edition of this book was published before India became independent).

Since children born today are the future of the world, women can contribute to a better future by treating maternity as a process of conscious creation. Therefore, the Mother advised women, and their partners, all the time, and especially during pregnancy, to be conscious of their thoughts, feelings and actions for their own sake, and even more for the sake of their children. We must be ready to change for the better if we want a better tomorrow. Thus, the advice contained in the CCRYN booklet is a small segment of all that we may do for a better future.  The language of the booklet may be simple, and even crude; its grammar may be faulty; its tone may be preachy; but let us not miss the grain of truth that it has. Let us not treat ‘scientific’, ‘rational’, and ‘true’ as synonyms; it is because they are not that we have all three of them in the dictionary. Truth is more important than being scientific and rational. Further, truth itself has many layers. When Will Durant wrote in a letter to his famous contemporaries in 1930 that “the greatest mistake in human history was the discovery of truth”, he was referring to scientific truths. Scientific truths are only part of the Truth, the One Truth that incorporates all truths, and remains essentially unknown although it may not be unknowable. But it is because scientific truths, which are at best partial, have hypnotized the modern mind that Will Durant considered the discovery of truth itself to be a great mistake.

The idea behind this blog is neither to tell what pregnant women should eat, think or feel, nor to say that everything in the CCRYN booklet, which I have not seen, is gospel truth. The purpose of writing this blog is only to highlight that rationality is not the final arbiter of Truth, and that something is not wrong just because a few doctors have rubbished it. That would be giving doctors an authority that they do not legitimately possess. Expertise in one area does not confer expertise in another area. Just as a typical yoga expert may not know how an antibiotic works, a typical medical doctor restricted in his knowledge to what he learnt in medical school may not understand the idea of mind over matter. Anybody who rejects what he does not understand is not only being ignorant, he is also being unscientific.

FOR FURTHER READING

The Mother: Words of Long Ago. ‘To the Women of Japan’. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, fourth edition, 1994, pp. 115-126.

Dossey, Larry. Healing Words. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.

Dossey, Larry. Reinventing Medicine: beyond mind-body to a new era of healing. New York: HarperSanFransisco (A Division of HarperCollins), 1999.

Dossey, Larry. Healing Beyond the Body: medicine and the infinite reach of the mind. Boston: Shambhala, 2001.

Some of the articles on the effect of music played to eggs on the developing chicks may be viewed by going to:

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0067347

http://www.ias.ac.in/describe/article/jbsc/038/03/0605-0614

http://www.ias.ac.in/describe/article/jbsc/039/01/0107-0117

Will Durant’s letter to his contemporaries may be viewed by going to:

http://www.philosophicalsociety.com/Archives/Durant’s%20On%20The%20Meaning%20of%20Life.htm

 

 

YOGA FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

Yogachemmal Dr. Meena Ramanathan1 and Yogacharya Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani2
1 Coordinator, CYTER, SBV, Puducherry.
2 Deputy Director, CYTER, SBV, Puducherry.

INTRODUCTION

Yoga is one of the six schools of ancient Indian Philosophy that enables one to achieve higher levels of performance, helping manifest the potentials from within.  Yoga is a great boon to civilized man having preventive, curative as well as rehabilitative potential. It is a spiritual science for the integrated and holistic development of physical, mental and spiritual aspects of our being.  Yoga is a conventional long-established and time-tested art and therapeutic science that has positive contribution to make in maintenance of general well being and happiness of all. “Yoga is a way of life”, says Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj, which can make a person rediscover his best in life. The practice is calming and provides a rare opportunity in our chaotic lives enabling one to focus inwards. (1)

According to Hathapradipika, a traditional Yoga text, Yoga is a safe and reliable practice that can be done at any age by anyone. (Yuva vrddho’thivrddho va vyadhito durbalo’pi va abhyasat siddimapnoti sarvayogeshvatandritah – Hathapradipika I: 64. Whether young, old or very old, sick or debilitated, one who is vigilant attains success in all yoga, by means of practice, provided they abide to the rules and regulations properly). (2) Yoga can also be performed by those with acute or chronic and painful disabilities, those who suffer from chronic illnesses and those with missing limbs too. Yoga has never recognized any barriers of age, sex, religion or creed. (3)

Children with special needs have various physical and mental disabilities which affect their mental attitude. They lack confidence and have a poor self-image. They develop feelings of inferiority from their awareness of their own abnormality and lack of success in all directions. They are frustrated due to the inability to do simple tasks, either unable to do it or do it with immense difficulty. Hence they are highly tense and tire easily from physical exertion. The spine is stiff, thus producing much pain, which further limits movement, imbalances co-ordination of limbs. They also have difficulty in concentration. (4)

Practice of Hatha Yoga begins by working with the body on a structural level, helping to align the spinal column, increase flexibility, and strengthen muscles, while internal organs are toned and rejuvenated; the digestive, lymphatic, cardiovascular, and pulmonary systems are purified of toxins and waste matter; the nervous and endocrine systems are normalised and balanced and brain cells are nourished and refreshed. The end result is increased mental clarity, emotional stability and a greater sense of overall well-being. (5, 6)

TRADITIONAL VIEWS

The Garbopanishad, of the post Vedic Period, 1000BC; is a treatise on embryology, explains the systematic growth of the embryo in the 2nd chapter. Susruta, a rehabilitative surgeon; explains the development of the foetus in detail in the 3rd chapter of Sushruta Samhita (700 BC). The heart of the foetus starts developing in the fourth month. As heart is the seat of consciousness, it expresses its desire for things of taste, smell etc. (through the longings of its mother). The enceinte is called double-hearted (Dauhrida) now, those whose wishes and desires – not being honoured and gratified – lead to the birth of a paralysed, hump-backed, crooked-armed, lame, dwarfed, defected and a blind child. Hence the desires of the enceinte should be gratified, which would ensure the birth of a strong, vigorous and long-lived son. Suggestions about corrective surgery for certain disabilities have been explained. Yoga Sutras of Patanjali reveals that we have at our disposal an excellent Yogic system which advocates a method of controlling the mind and the body. He depicts a crystallized picture of what constitutes the mind, its functions and impediments. Patanjali has also described the states of mind- Mudha, Kshipta, Vikshipta, Ekagrata and Niruddha– the dull, distracted, partially distracted, one pointed and controlled respectively. The mind of the disabled is classified under the Mudha, Kshipta or Vikshipta states. (7)

 

Thirumoolar in Thirumandiram (a classical treatise on yoga in Tamil) (8) describes thus:

Paigindra vayuk kuraiyir kuralaagum

Paigindra vayu villaikkin mudamaagum

Paigindra vayu naduppadir koonaagum

Paigindra vayuma tharkkillaip paarkkile (480)

Birth Imperfections Explained as

When after intercourse, the man is short of breath,

The infant born a dwarf will be;

When breath blows feeble,

The issue may be defective limbs be born;

When breath halts in mid-act

A hunch-back will be born;

All these apply not to woman’s rhythm.

 

Maadha udharam malamigil mandanaam

Maadha udharam jalamigil moongaiyaam

Maadha udharam irandokkil kannillai

Maadha udharatthil vanda kuzhavikke (481)

 

How Deaf, Dumb, and Blind are Born:

When at the time of union,

The mother’s bowels are heavy exceeding,

A dullard will be born;

If urine exceeds,

A dumb will be born;

If both exceed, a blind will be born;

Thus is it for the infant born

The mother’s condition according.

 

YOGA FOR SPECIAL CHILDREN

The children with disabilities who practice Yoga often surprise everyone with their quick mastery of various yoga techniques as well as tremendous improvement of basic motor, communicative and cognitive skills; they develop greater concentration, balance and control in their day to day activities. Yoga is beneficial to all but the only requirement is proper instruction and regular dedicated practice.  It is highly recommended that the parents of the special children also enrol in with their children to experience the effects of Yoga for themselves. It also helps create better bonding and understanding between the parent and the child with special needs.  We never really know what the outcome might be but we do know that yoga helps to recreate, refine and redefine the child, which lays foundation for positive improvement. (9, 10)

 

YOGIC TECHNIQUES

Basic Jathis and Kriyas may be given as a part of the warm up practices with Surya Namaskar. These help improve the flexibility, create awareness of the body and enhances the energy circulation throughout the body.

ASANAS: ‘Asanas’ or ‘postures’ are psycho-physiological practices since they form the basis of Yoga’s mind-body integration activity. The greatest benefit from practicing asanas comes when we learn how to relax in a given pose resulting in a state of deep concentration in which mind is totally focused on a single object or on the incoming and outgoing breaths which helps harmonise mind and body.

Although the ‘differently-abled’ children might not be able to practice all of the poses, there are many postures that are especially beneficial to them. Even trying to attain a particular posture has the same benefit as attaining the final position. Depending upon the type of handicap, most of these postures can be modified for them. In fact, they can be taught to perform various postures without moving at all. There are instances of severely disabled persons who practice their yoga routine from their beds or wheelchairs. Asanas work on the muscles and the joints, creating space within the body’s structure to help increase circulation and improve flexibility. The physical functioning becomes more integrated and less stressful.

Demonstration of the asana is more effective than the explanation. (This holds good for all the Yogic Techniques). Postures are tailored as per the ability of the individual child.

 

Postures to improve blood flow to the head: Postures like Viparitkarani,(topsy-turvy posture) Sarvangasana (shoulder-stand), Matsyasana (fish posture), Halasana (plough posture), alternating with standing postures such as Padahastasana (hand to foot posture), Trikonasana (triangle posture), Padangushtasana (clasping big toe like a hook) helps increasing blood flow to the head region and help activate the brain cells.

Postures to increase concentration: Balancing postures such as Vrikshasana (tree posture), Ardhachakrasana (half-wheel posture) and Natarajasana (posture of Lord Nataraja). Children have to be helped by the parent or the instructor to maintain these postures.

Postures to improve confidence and body stance: Back bending postures such as Bhujangasana (serpent posture), Ushtrasana (camel posture), Chakrasana (wheel posture), Dhanurasana (bow posture) that opens the shoulders and the chest region are useful for enhancing their vital capacity as well as improving their self confidence and their body stance.

Those affected by the impairment of the lower limbs can be taught the practice of hand balancing postures and they excel in that.  Simhasana (lion posture) improves stammering, stuttering and some ear, nose and throat defects of the children. Pavanamukta Asana (wind-releasing posture) is an enjoyable practice too. Thus starting from simple movements and dynamic postures, they can be slowly led on to the static postures, the concept of Sthira and Sukha, thereby satisfied gradually. (11, 12)

 

PRANAYAMA: Pranayama controls and regulates breathing and is very beneficial for the disabled. This technique particularly improves the stamina, balance and strength, induces better sleep by the improved circulation of the vital energy. Pranayama helps in controlling epileptic-seizures which may be common among these children. Sounds of animals make it interesting for them to perform. Kukkuriya Pranayama, (dog panting breath) is an all time favorite with children. Practice of Mathangi Pranayama, Vyagraha Pranayama with Cheeri and Sharabha Kriya are also enjoyed. Others like Kapalabhati is also very useful (for the slow dull people and not the hyperactive ones). The Shitali and Sitkari Pranayama are useful for the people affected by the Down’s syndrome as they have thickened tongue with difficulty in speech. Nada Pranayama such as Pranava Pranayama helps alleviate stress as well as sublimate suppressed and regressed emotions. Mukha Bhastrika is also known as the ‘cleansing breath’ helps remove old, stagnant air from the lungs and cleanses the bloodstream of excess carbon dioxide. Its practice also decreases response time and enhances memory and comprehension. Research also suggests that it is useful in combating learning disorders, A.D.D., and mental retardation. (13, 14) It may also be of value to train mentally retarded children who have prolonged Reaction Time.

Pranayama and Asanas work hand-in-hand to balance and integrate different physiological functions and to help dissolve emotional blockages and negative habitual patterns that can obstruct the flow of vital energy within the body. (15)

 

SHATKARMAS: Some of the Shatkarmas such as Trataka, Kapalabhati, may be very useful for the developing concentration and also act as tranquillizers. The regular practices of Kunjal Kriya and Dugda Neti up to at least 40 days have been found to improve mental retardation.(16) These children suffer from numerous eye related problems and Trataka and the Neti are highly beneficial for such children along with a diet rich in Vitamin A and C.

 

MUDRAS: Bhujangini Mudra and Brahma Mudra, working with breath and sound vibration induces a sense of relaxation and reinvigorates the head and neck region reducing stress. Hasta Mudras and Kaya Mudras (Yoga Mudra, Manduka Mudra) helps drive away depression, bringing out a sense of joy and happiness. Avoid Oli Mudras, due to their powerful influence on the gonadal and other endocrine glands.

 

DHYANA: The practice of meditation in any form reduces the feeling of loneliness and promotes peace of mind. It is very beneficial for the physically disabled, but a difficult practice for the mentally challenged.

 

YOGIC  RELAXATION: Unrealistic expectations at home and outside add powerful peer pressures on them driving them mad. Shava Asana (corpse posture) with Kaya Kriya and Spanda-Nishpanda relaxes all aspects of the musculoskeletal system thereby promoting complete relaxation and harmonisation of mind, body and emotions.

Prayer and chanting of simple mantras makes them less aggressive, purifies the speech, calms the mind, and helps reduce distraction. Hence chanting the Pranava Mantra AUM can benefit these children. Helps maintaining their concentration and improves their alertness with rest and relaxation and aids them to get emotional and mental strength. Repetition of certain sound patterns can produce a calming and healing effect on the nervous system and psyche.

 

BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR SPECIAL CHILDREN

  • Yoga helps coordinate the activities of mind, body and emotions
  • Reduces distracted state of mind thereby building up focus and concentration
  • Improves activities of day today living to the degree which could never otherwise be achieved
  • Improves one’s ability and helps one to rely on their own selves making them independent
  • Helps develop social relationships, and reduces frequency of violent emotional upsets
  • Reduces the negative traits and tendency to cause injuries to self and others
  • Develops a positive outlook improving self-confidence, self-sufficiency and sociability
  • Improves interpersonal relationships
  • Improves their loco motor skills and psycho-motor coordination
  • Reduces obesity
  • Controls drooling
  • Helps in disappearance of facial tics
  • enhanced eye-hand coordination
  • improved attention span
  • Reduces hyperactivity
  • Improves appetite and sleep
  • Improves overall health
  • Increases immunity
  • Reduces aggression
  • Reduces dependency of drugs
  • Increases the efficiency of the nervous system and thus helps in their rehabilitation.

The practice of Asanas followed by deep relaxation can help significantly promote proper muscle tone, which is characteristic of most children with cerebral palsy. Holding in an Asana gives the muscles and tendons a relaxing stretch, releasing overall stress and tightness throughout the musculature and around the joints.  In fact the most important aspect of Asana practice for children with cerebral palsy is its ability to stretch and realign the spine. This systematic series of forward and backward bending postures complimenting each other helps to stretch the vertebrae and reduce pressure on the inter-vertebral disks and nerves that radiate out of the spine reducing muscular tension throughout the body and enhances overall nerve function. As a result, the child is able to develop a greater range of movement and coordination as well as greater independence.

Children with Down’s syndrome are shorter than average, with truncated limbs, crossed eyes and hypotonia (low muscle tone). Motor development is slow; they are more susceptible to certain medical problems including congenital heart defects, are susceptible to infections and have respiratory problems.  Majority of children with Down’s syndrome fall in the mild to moderate range of mental retardation.  Yoga practice facilitates the development of body awareness, concentration and memory, provides vital skills for any child with a developmental disability.

The first step in teaching Yoga to an autistic child is to establish a strong bond. The teacher must stoop down to the level of the child, gain the child’s complete confidence, gradually develop mutual trust and friendship and later introduce some of the practices such as asanas and pranayama that will help to bring the child with autism out of his or her shell and into the world of social interaction.

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) have learning delays due to their hyperactivity and distractibility. They develop more resilience through the ability to self-regulate, reduce stress and anxiety; balance themselves and learn how to relax, release tension and frustration through the various techniques of yoga. Yoga provides the perfect platform to build vital skills. (17)

 

 CONCLUSION

Although modern medical approaches are being used to cure the disabilities, they have achieved only a small amount of success. In comparison to the treatment given to such children; yogic therapy has been found to be more beneficial, because the mode of action of many psychically active drugs is not fully clear.

Mostly major and minor tranquillizers, antidepressants and anti-convulsants are given to these children. It has been observed that many of these drugs have wide action and a considerable number of side effects, some bad and some very serious. Yoga is an experiential science (Anubuthi Shastra). The physiological, biochemical and psychological benefits have been measured and well established. Research work is still in the toddler’s level as far as the disabled and the disabilities are concerned. But it can be authentically said that these practices make them joyful and happy, making them jubilant, improving their quality of life, giving them a sense of well being, apart from the other physical benefits. The sense of perception is tremendous in these children. They teach us a lot about the harsh realities of life. They live their life as God has given it to them; accepting it gracefully making no complaints about it. They are the Special Creations of the Divine’s unfathomable play.

 

REFERENCES:

  1. Gitananda Giri Swami. Yoga: Step-by-Step, Satya Press, Pondicherry,1976
  2. The Forceful Yoga (being the translation of the Hathayoga Pradipika, Gheranda Samhita and Siva Samhita). Translated into English by Pancham Sinh, Rai Bahadur Srisa Chandra Vasu and Romanized and edited by GP Bhatt. Mothilal Banarsidas Publishers Private Limited, Delhi. 2004.
  1. Bhavanani AB. Role of yoga in health and disease. Journal of Symptoms and Signs 2014; 3(5): 399-406.
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Yoga Practices for Diabetics

Tadasana (Palm Tree Postures)

Technique:

  • Stand with feet 2 inches apart. Interlock the fingers, and turn the wrist outwards. Now inhale, raise the arms up
  • Bring them in line with the shoulders.
  • Raise the heels off the floor and balance on the toes. Stay in this position for 10-15 seconds.
  • Exhale, bring the heels down.
  • Release the interlock of the fingers and bring the arms down parallel to the trunk, and come back to standing posture.

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