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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Talk on Migraine, High Blood Pressure, Epilepsi and Gastrointestinal Diseases

May 30, 2004
Raghuramji - President of 1st Yoga Festival - Istanbul / Turkey

It normally takes more than a week to cover the techniques regarding headaches, migraine or the gastrointestinal diseases. Here we have around 1.5 hours and let us try to make best use of it.
I will not go into the details of anatomy or psychology because that is a different subject by itself. I will give you their connections with Yoga. When Yoga was developed those people did not have the anatomy knowledge we have today. We should not also forget that they understood human physiology by looking in the words rather than the laboratories. If a Yogi can look inside and feel what the things inside that are effecting are, we also can do it. Lots of Yogic knowledge is achieved by looking in words. If you say you have a mind, you don’t say it because the books tell you, you say it by experience.
Let us try to understand things from Yoga point of view, looking inside. The definition of mind is peace of mind and harmony. Peace of mind and harmony are essentially our nature. If you are not peaceful, then there is a reason for you to come out of your nature. If you are not in harmony, it is because of some outside influence. This harmony and peace is also your health. Health is our nature. From the Yoga literature and the Indian point of view, the word we use for health is “swasta”. In Sanskrit it is called “swa+sta”. Swa means self and sta means being. So health means “I am in myself” and sickness means “I am away from myself”. To be yourself, you do not need any reason. You can understand this very easily. When you ask someone how he is, and he answers he is fine, you don’t ask him why he is fine. That’s because to be fine is our nature. However being sick is away from our nature. Only then we question why he is sick because there should be a reason. May be he has a headache. Headache means being away from our nature. We ask why he has a headache and he answers:” in your company we will get headache”. Sickness should have a reason. Health does not require a reason.
These days everybody is sick and very few people are really healthy. That is why the number of hospitals and therapists is increasing. Every house is like a medical shop. Why are we away from ourselves? Somehow our life style takes us away from ourselves. If you understand this you can go back to your nature. A technique to go back to our nature is what Yoga is.
Yoga does not do something. Yoga is getting back home. When you apply the peace and harmony at the body level, that is relaxation. At the prana level, that is slow. At the mind level, it is the calm state of mind. So Yoga is a technique to relax the body, slower the Prana and calm down at the mind level. The technique we apply at the body level to relax is called Asana. Similarly the technique at the Prana level is Pranayama. The technique we apply at the mind level is meditation. At the emotional level we call it Bakthi Yoga. There are many different techniques of Yoga. If you are away from relaxation at the body level, then you are tense. If you are away from slow at the Prana level, you have speed. If you are away from a calm state of mind, these disturbances will be agitations of the mind. When you are sitting quiet your mind is in agitation because you have a problem.
The question is “how do you say that this is our nature?” One of the important things when you are at yourself is that you feel happy. Smile is our nature. To be happy is our nature. Look at the children, they naturally smile. It is so difficult for us. The photographer has to beg us “please smile”. These days, even when he asks us, we don’t smile. That’s why he forces us to say “cheese” so that it looks like a smile. How unfortunate it is that we have lost our own nature. When we are in our nature, the child is so happy. Naturally, you see that the child is relaxed at the body level. When you let a child sit down, he immediately takes his toe and puts it in his mouth and start sucking. We can not even touch our toes naturally.
Similarly at the prana level, the child is very slow naturally. And at the mind level, the child is very calm. They are never worried. However we have come away from our nature. Tension is the way we come away from our nature at the body level. With speed we come away from our Prana. And agitation is the way our mind is away. We are constantly worried. If you are not worried, then you worry about why you are not worried. Anything happening in India or America worries us. Even football or basketball can worry us. One day I received a phone call at three o’clock in the morning. At that time of the day you immediately think they are calling from abroad or there is something serious. I opened it and somebody said” Raghuram, I am sorry but I could not sleep and I had to disturb you” He was actually living 2 miles away from us. I asked him why he called me at that time of the night. He said that there was a cricket game going on between India and England and India was losing. He asked me what he should do. I told him to close the TV and go to sleep. Is there something to worry about here? Even the cricket players are not worried but you are. This is how we get away from our nature.
So Yoga is going back to our nature. All these tensions, speed and agitations are all kinds of “doing”. But when you look at slow, calm, and relax, they are states of “being”, Yoga is a conscious process of going from “doing” to “being”. We are wrongly called as “human beings”. Actually we should be called as “human doings”!!!. Only when you practice yoga you can become a human being. When you understand Yoga like this, it will be easier to apply Yoga for all the sickness problems.
Headache essentially is not a disease. It is a symptom. Any pain or aching is not a disease but a symptom. When you hold on to the symptom, you can go to the sickness. Understand what the symptom is from. If you try to remove the symptom may be you will miss the sickness. Don’t take the symptoms seriously, but take the sickness seriously. Particularly, a symptom like headache has hundreds of different reasons. What we feel unbearable is only the headache. What is going on behind the symptom may be much more important to address.
The reason for that can be your nature, your environment, or some other difficulties going on inside. The body, mind and spirit complex is very sensitive. God has created this instrument and it is very delicate. It can not take a little cold or a little heat. It is upset with less food or extra food. We have sensitized it much more. This sensitivity brings about the symptoms. If you closely watch your headache, you will see it has connections with several organs. Your cold or a blunt nose can bring a headache. A virus inside can bring a headache. A urinary infection can bring a headache. A bad stomach can give a headache. Most importantly, a neurological disease can give a headache. Also, a cancer or a growing tumor can give us a headache. That is why a symptom like headache should be understood properly.
If you have a respiratory problem, then this headache can be removed very easily. If a respiratory disease is causing a headache then you must do every week at least two times Neti or nasal cleaning. In Neti, you basically take the water and pass it through the nostrils. It’s not just cleaning the nostril; it is much more than that. Blockage in the nose happens because your nasal passage is over reactive to the changes happening outside. A small dust, a leaf fallen or humidity cause over reactivity in the nasal passage. People have always been reactive to these things since the old times. What used to happen, is that people were so peaceful inside that although humidity or dust used to cause problems, people were still all right. It also depends on your body resistance level. If it is high enough, you will not have a headache despite the environmental conditions. By Neti, you calm down the nasal passage. When you take the water in your nose, the first feeling is irritation and you want to take it out. Then you close your eyes and relax. If you still continue to take in water, your inner system now relaxes. So by Neti, you bring down this inner stress level. When you do it continuously for a few days, your inner disturbance level comes down and all the things outside will not disturb you any more. We always advice kaphalabati or active breathing to be followed by Neti.
Particularly if you have problems with pollens, then you can add a few drops of honey in the water you are using. Some people have headaches because they are allergic to milk and dairy products or to domestic animals. In this case, you put 3-4 spoons of milk for one cup of water. There is a device called Netipot and when you put water on one side, it flows from the other. When you do Neti regularly, it also brings an irritation to smoking. So a regular practice of Neti is very useful.
After Neti, do Kaphalabati which is active breathing out. When you put in water, the water vapor goes to the sinuses and they create a blockage there. The blockage of sinuses can also cause headache. We have a frontal and maxility sinuses. When these sinuses are blocked, then we have a headache. You can feel the headache in these areas. These are actually simple headaches of sinus or allergy. Please make sure that the person does not have any problems of hypertension.
The second kind of headaches is the tension headaches. In this kind of headache, people complain about not just an ache in one zone but in the whole head. You feel like you want to pull your head out. That exactly is the symptom of tension headache. For tension headaches, alternate nostril breathing is very good. There is a third kind of headaches which also might be due to tension. But essentially the tension is around the neck and the shoulders. These days, this kind of headache is very common because people are very much working with the computers and they have problems in their necks and shoulders. This may cause some cervical problems. When there is tightness in the neck muscle, the head ache occurs. In such cases we apply neck turning exercises. You sit on your knees. Keep the hands by the side of your knees. Bend down to the floor and put your forehand on the floor. Raise your hip upwards and roll your head. When you roll forward, you inhale and when you come back, you exhale. Hypertension patients can also do this but it is particularly for the headaches caused by tension.
Even if you have spandulosis or gastric problems you still will have a certain degree of headache. If you have some psychological diseases, you can again have tension headaches. If you have hyperthyroid, you should do sarvangasana.
Q&A Session
In sarvangasana, do the glands work more or less?
Actually there is an optimum level that they should be working in. With these practices, the less functioning glands will start functioning better, and the hyperactive glands will slow down. Both sarvangasana and neck-rolling will help to those with hyperthyroid and hypothyroid.
There is another issue which I should mention to you as you are Yoga teachers. A very important neurological problem is epilepsy. Sometimes epilepsy is due to chemical imbalances in the body. In such cases, they give simple medications. The epilepsy sometimes could be due to some other disease conditions. In that case, it is not epilepsy but a seizure like epilepsy. In such cases, there are medications that can solve the problem. If it is not a chemical imbalance but an electrical imbalance from the brain, that much more serious. Electrical problems in the brain are increased in the presence of oxygen. That is why, patients suffering from epilepsy don’t do exercises that are hyperventilating. People who are epileptic should not practice xxxxxx or kaphalabati. They should also not be doing sarvangasana. This is a real must, they should absolutely not practice these exercises.
Another important aspect of headaches is migraine. Migraine is a very complex problem. Even thinking about it gives you a brainy feeling inside. You start feeling your brain like sand. The headache starts from the eye brows and goes all the way to the back. There can also be a partial headache of migraine. Migraine headaches can be caused by ear problems also. Another important cause of migraine headaches is premenstrual syndrome. Migraine headache can not be under control if you have a full stomach. The moment you have the symptom, you try to vomit it out. Your uncontrollable excess brain activity may also cause migraine headaches. So do kapalabhati and jalandrabandha. Before jalandrabandha, you may do mulabandha.
In mulabandha, you hold the rectal muscles tight. Sit straight. Pull the body from the waist. Inhale and exhale through the nostrils 3 times. Then you close your eyes and do the rectal muscles bandha. After that you stabilize without breathing. When you feel like inhaling, release the bandha and then inhale. Don’t inhale without releasing the bandha. This is an absolute precaution. If you inhale while in bandha, there can be a possibility of having a muscle catch. Jalandrabandha is the most important for the migraine headache. Similarly we do the inhales and exhales 3 times. After exhalation, we do mulabandha and press the neck down. The chin should press in this gap. Hold it as long as you can hold your breath. Then release the jalandrabandha and release the mulabandha and inhale. This order is very important, don’t miss this order. The most important precaution is you should not be doing this when in pregnancy. This would be a strain on the kid. People who have epilepsy do not do the initial three times breathing. In fact for epilepsy, bandha is very good.
For epileptic people, actually Yoga itself is very good except for these three exercises. Other practices will develop a wonderful harmony in the whole body-mind-spirit complex. With that way, epilepsy affect can be reduced. We had a boy who used to have around 15 attacks of epilepsy a day. With medication, his symptoms have come down in 6 years. He doesn’t have epileptic attacks any more and his brain function has improved. For some period of time, he was like mentally retarded child. Now he is slowly picking up all the activities. The first thing that happens in the case of epilepsy is that normally people are not aware when they have a seizure or an attack. With the practice of Yoga, inner awareness, he was able to say when he was going to have an attack. Yoga builds up tremendous amount of inner awareness. Once the awareness is there, they can get prepared for their attacks. The intense of the attack is higher when you fear the attack. This awareness of Yoga also takes away the fear of the attack. Once you have the awareness, you get prepared and you are not afraid of the attack.
How many times should we be doing the neck-rolling for tension headaches?
You should do at least 15 times. It also goes for spandulosis. What are the limitations for the hypertension patients?They should not do inverse postures. They should be careful for back-bending postures. Let us talk about gastrointestinal problems now.
Basically any disorders of the gastrointestinal track, like ulcer, acidity problem, or gas problem are under the category of gastrointestinal disorders. To some extent, irritable bubble syndrome, connected with the psychology a lot, is also one of the gastric problems. In such cases, sun salutation is very good. You can drink a couple of glasses of water and then start doing surya-namaskar. Also, it should be done a little bit fast. It should be like a continuous activity. At least 6 salutations is good. The second one is the pavanamuktasana. It has three different stages to be done. In the first one you do it with the right leg, and then with the left leg. Afterwards you do it with both legs. This is the second most important gesture for the ones with gastrointestinal disorders to do. The third one to be done is arda-matsyandrasana. You sit and twist the body in that. This you can do repeatedly on either side. After this, you can go to bhujangasana. We repeat bhujangasana 5-6 times. Afterwards you walk front and back on your toes. You stretch your hands upwards, pull the body up, stand on the toes and walk front and back. You walk about 15-20 steps 3-4 times. Then you do savasana. People with hypertension or epilepsy can do these practices. Even when you are pregnant you can do these. Can you give us some advices for people with memory problem?Trataka is very good for memory. Just keep a flame at 4-6 feet distance and keep looking at it. Watch it with plain eyes. Just fix your eyes on the flame with your eyes and your mind. Constantly keep looking at the flame. Have a smile on your face. Your breath should be normal. Your whole attention should be on the flame. Keep doing this for about 3 minutes. Then close your eyes and relax for 1 minute. Then open your eyes for once again. Continue to look at the flame for about another 3 minutes. After that turn your head to the right and then to the left. But continue to be looking at the flame as you do this. Again close your eyes for a minute. Open your eyes and continue to look at it for 2-3minutes. This time turn your head up and down slowly. Do this for regularly every day and it will improve your memory. It normally takes 10-15 minutes. Kaphalabati and Nadishudi also improve the memory.
You had better do the Trataka in a dark place. Behind the flame, there should not be anything to disturb your mind.

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