Post: 3 ways to switch into the anti-inflammatory lifestyle

Inflammation is a body’s normal immune response to injury, wound or disease to protect, defend, fight and repair against the damage. It is our body’s defence mechanism on the cellular level. When we are young, the body’s immunity is at an optimal level. But as we grow older, though the body’s cell renewal process goes on, the immune system slowly decline if we do not take proper care.

So as we grow older, not only we have to maintain a healthy lifestyle but also consider the anti-inflammatory aspect of living a healthier and disease-free life.

Risk factors of inflammation are chronic stress, anxieties, depression, pain, anger, hurt, fear or most of the negative emotions. Other important risk factors can be unhealthy food habits like bingeing habits, fat (omega 6 fatty acids) rich foods like soy, peanuts, mayonnaise, plant-based oils ( sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil), alcohol, refined sugar. Sedentary habits, with no or very less physical activities, are all pro-inflammatory.

Some more pro-inflammatory factors like processed foods, heavy metals, pollutions, smoking, drugs and disturbed or toxic relationship.

So, how do we incorporate the anti-inflammatory aspects of our lifestyle?

1.Less is more: The more we lead a simple basic life, the better and longer, we can live healthier and happier. Essentially basic life, meaning, eating well, sleeping well, a good amount of physical activity in the daily routine. Keeping away from any negative emotions as much as you can. Staying away from stress and anxieties as much as practically possible. Living a life of Gratitude and contentment are the keys.

2.Wholesome diet: Plant-based food, plenty of vegetables, fruits to have daily, whole fibres are all good. Certain known anti-inflammatory foods like food rich in omega 3 fatty acids ( fishes like salmon, sardines, tuna), avocado, olive oil, whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, dark chocolate, nuts, berries,chia seeds. Spices like ginger, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon all have anti-inflammatory properties.

3.Physical activity: Workouts and gymming are all very good in keeping the body shape and weight at check. But the important part is you should also keep your cortisol level (stress hormone) in balance. It’s always wise to avoid heavy workouts which can shoot up the cortisol level. Because stress hormones are risk factor responsible to contribute to chronic inflammation. Design your workout and physical activity routine plan as the way you are comfortable and as far as you enjoy doing them. Yoga is another practice which has a lot of stretchings as well as help to keep your mind at peace.
Don’t forget to meditate daily which gives you the much needed mental peace and solace.

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Post : Cortisol cautious workout : 3 important reasons.

Cortisol or hydrocortisone is a naturally occurring stress hormone which is secreted by the adrenal gland. It is naturally produced during the fight and flight response to pumping up the extra energy to confront the situation. Under normal circumstances, the cortisol level fluctuates throughout the day as we are on the run through the day.

Since it is a hormone, it is circulated throughout the body by blood and affects all the organs of the body. Keeping aside the adrenal gland abnormalities where the cortisol level is very high (Cushing’s syndrome) and very low (Addison’s disease), the level should be appropriate for normal body functioning and well being. Irregularities in the cortisol level can affect the body’s metabolism and vital functions like blood pressure regulation. When cortisol is raised, the person may have weight gain, high blood pressure while a low level can lead to low blood pressure, weakness and weight loss.

Since most of the workout techniques involve a high level of stress and exertion, the cortisol level is pumped up. This is important to be regulated as high levels are harmful to the body. So, the choice of workout, how far you can push yourself or whether your body is ready to take up physical stress are some queries that should be considered.

So how can I be conscious about my workouts and also be quite vigilant about my cortisol level?

  1. Doing high-intensity workouts for long hours, not paying attention to the pain and injury to the body is no good to the body at all. Long hours of high cortisol level might slow down the body’s metabolism. High intensity workouts should normally be done for 30 -40 mins in a day. Going for low-intensity workouts like walking, swimming, yoga, skating, cycling are better options. Low intense training like resistance bands, gliders are also better choices. Following such workouts are more useful and restorative for the body and the cortisol level is also quite maintained.

2.Listening to the body’s need is important. Whether your body can perform a certain exercise is important. If you do have any injury, pain, skip the day with another form of physical activity. Scheduling the week with different forms of workouts and physical activity is wise and beneficial. Mix matching with Yoga, stretching, gliders and rest of the days with other forms like walking, swimming, cycling, aerobics are wise.

3.Help your body’s natural healing capacity. To maintain the cortisol level, prevent it from rising, some days rest your body, go for messages, physical therapy and other forms of relaxation techniques. Go for relaxation yoga poses like Balasana (child pose), Matsyendrasana (reclining fish pose) or savasana (corpse pose). Meditation with relaxing music is healing too. All these practises are restorative and bring out overall wellness.

Post: 5 interesting physical changes that happen in your brain during meditation.

I do practise everyday my daily routine meditation for around 20 to 30 mins. I do it every day as a part of my yoga routine. Being a medical professional, I always had the inquisitiveness to know behind the science for meditating.
Many types of research and studies have been going around behind the science and physiological changes that happen during meditation. Since there are too many studies and too much research floating around in various media, it is very confusing sometimes. By now, all of us know that meditation benefits us to be more focus, reduced stress, mindful, calmer and compassionate.

But I would like to highlight more on the actual physical changes that can happen to the brain on regularly meditating based on scientific studies. Meditation by any religious, traditional and yoga form mainly follow two methods of focusing.

Single focus method: In this method, you have to focus on a particular thing, maybe your breathing, or the area between your eyebrows (the pineal gland) or maybe the physical sensation around your body. When you wander, you bring your focus back to the particular thing that you are focusing on.

Open focus method: In this method, when you close your eyes, you don’t focus on a particular thing. You keep your focus open on the dark, wide-open space around you. Whatever thoughts, come your way, you are aware of them and let them go without focusing on them.

What happens to your brain when you do meditation daily for 20mins to an hour for 8 to 10 weeks? Physical changes have been reported in the limbic brain based on various researches.

Amygdala: This is a part of the limbic brain which is responsible for most of your emotional stimuli mainly fight or flight response. This area is responsible for stress, fear, anger, violence, pain and so on. Meditation causes to shrink the amygdala, making it smaller than it’s the usual size. Therefore, due to these physical changes, your response to these emotions of stress, fear, anger is reduced considerably and you become calmer.

Pons: This is a part of the brain stem which is mainly responsible for processing all sensory inputs, and vital activities like sleep, respiration, swallowing, facial expression. Meditation has helped to strengthen the pons, thereby improving all its vital functions.

Posterior cingulate: This part of the brain is responsible for “understanding self” and controlling the wandering thoughts. When you process any kind of information, this part of the brain is responsible for the relevance of self and the degree of subjectivity. Meditation helps to strengthen this part of the brain which in turn helps you to take a more wider approach to issues, and be more considerate towards self. It helps you to be non-judgemental and not take things personally. Precuneus is also part of the limbic cortex which helps in self-relevance. It is responsible for happiness state. Meditation helps strengthen this area too.

Left Hippocampus: This part of the brain is for long term memory and cognition. Meditation helps to increase the volume, the grey matter in this area. So your memory and cognitive abilities start improving.

Temporo Parietal Junction: This part of the brain is responsible to help you understand perspective to any issues. It is this part of the brain which is responsible to understand the other person’s view, be more empathetic and compassionate. Meditation helps to strengthen this area in the brain.

Post: 7 tremendous benefits of a particular breathing technique (Kapalabhati)

I have been a yoga practitioner for years. It has been very instrumental in overall wellbeing in my life.
Kapalabhati in Sanskrit means ‘skull cleaning or shining’. It is a breathing technique practised as Pranayama in yoga. Though the word sounds awkward, it is a breathing exercise of successive, rapid, forceful exhalations followed by brief passive inhalation.

The procedure is quite simple:

  • Sit comfortably in Padmasana or simply legs crossed.
  • Rest your hands on your knees.
  • Follow your normal breathing for some time.
  • In a quick moment, contract your abdominal muscles, and forcefully exhale air from both of your lungs.
  • Then allow air to fill your lungs slowly without effort.
  • Perform this cycle for 10 times at a stretch, then return to normal breathing. With daily practice, the cycle can easily go up to 120 times with each round.

Since this is an ancient old practise, in spite of having tremendous benefits, it has some contraindications.

  • Not to be practiced by women who are either pregnant or during menstrual cycle.
  • As there is too much of abdominal movements, not to be practiced by someone having abdominal hernia.
  • Not to be practiced by a person with slip disc, back pain or neck injury.
  • If you suffer from acute respiratory infections, it is better to rest, and let the infections go before doing any Pranayamas.

This practice has ample benefits. 7 important ones are.
1.It is a very useful tool to release congestion and volatile toxins from the body. It also cleans the nasal passage and respiratory system. It is powerful detoxifying method.

2.Since there is a contraction, relaxation of abdominal muscles, it stimulates and improves digestion.
3. It increases heart rate and blood circulation.
4. It is known to reduce stress, anxiety and tensions.

5.The endocrine system and glands are stimulated and regulated.
6.Since you focus entirely on your breathe, your mind gets rid of unnecessary thoughts, hence helps in concentrating. Therefore, a useful tool during the examination.
7. This breathing technique helps to treat diseases related to the nervous system, endocrine system and mental health.

Post: Self healing….

Self – healing

Your body has the unique power and capabilities of self healing. No matter what you are going through, your body has the power, knowledge and wisdom to heal on its own. Its time to start exercising this ability…

The hidden truth about our own body is it has an innate capacity to heal on its own in all possible ways. Our body is not a single entity, in fact it is a community of 50 trillion cells which are in harmony and work through a single guiding voice, our mind. The mind and body has a natural homeostasis to keep us in a healthy state of being. The body does not go where our mind doesn’t take it. But then, why do we fall sick ? It is because due to our daily routine stress and a host of emotional and physical strain, this homeostasis is disrupted. Hence, comes the disease state ranging from common to severe illnesses. Therefore, our normal state of being is completely disturbed. So, when this happens, awareness of this state is our first intention.

Firstly , be aware of the internal or external factors that must have led to this imbalance. By simply being aware, we can slowly curb those factors from our life by conscious efforts. Slowly, we should try to restore back the natural balance in our mind and body, our natural state of being. Trying to focus on healthy choices in our routine life with a positive frame of mind. Once, this is done, our body starts healing on its own. Its spontaneously goes into a state of recovery. Thought ,this is not an easy task. Our belief to heal ourselves is the only driving force.

This is very unusual for an experienced medical professional like me to emphasise on self – healing. But, in reality , this is a genuine fact. Healing of any sort of illness happens when we believe that we can heal. Doctors and drugs can only facilitate the process. But the biggest problem here is that we don’t trust our mind and body. We don’t trust our abilities.It has been in our subconscious mind that have been installed from our very childhood, if we fall sick, we need to visit a doctor, pop up a pill or need an external agent to heal. This has been hard wired in our brain. So, every time, we feel unwell, we need some external agent to feel better. Above all, our mind is constantly nagged by a negative force, limiting beliefs, tons of garbage of wrong perceptions which we may not be even aware of. All these reasons clubbed together make us impossible to heal. 

Healing becomes very difficult, not just physically but even mentally.In fact, even without any physical ailment, we tend to feel sick because of our mental state. So, the simple tip to lead a healthy physical life is to have a healthy mind. If we have a strong, healthy mind, any kind of physical imbalance can be corrected eventually. In our daily routine life of physical exercise, activity, at least some quantity of time is required to slow down , to meditate and relax our mind. If not possible in the daytime, at least before going to bed or early morning before starting the day.At the end of the day, we know, life is beautiful and short. And we have tons of reasons to be grateful for.

Post: My take on yoga mat….

Practising yoga is my daily routine regime for health and wellness. But do I have made the right choice of yoga mat where I enjoy doing my routine practise ? Or is it worse like sliding and slipping very often while holding a posture ?

Before, jumping onto the topic of yoga mat availability and preferences, I would like to share some insight facts about Yoga.

It’s an ancient Indian practice of mind, body and spirit connection. Traditionally, it was practised by the yogis to keep them in discipline with their mind, body and spirit. The ultimate goal of all traditional forms of Yoga was to attain samadhi (enlightenment). All the traditional forms of Yoga like Hatha Yoga, Bhakti yoga, Jnana yoga and Karma Yoga has the same common goal to help reach the samadhi state. Though it is not associated with any religion, it is more of a spiritual practice than a fitness method. Therefore, while practising Yoga, the spiritual essence is very important. Today, because of its popularity in the entire world, the deviation from the actual traditional Yoga has been a concern. It has become more of a fitness tool to build up muscles, stretching, flexing muscles and aerobic exercises. The popularity has been boosted due to its immense benefit on many medical ailments like mental illness, schizophrenia, anxiety, stress and bodily pain. In fact, studies have found that practising yoga and meditation regularly can be beneficial and facilitate healing of all type of physical and mental illnesses. 

I, myself have been a yoga practitioner for the last 5 years. It has not only helped me become more self – discipline and focused but also benefited me both physically and mentally. That is how , I have started to know about Yoga Mat.

As a routine practitioner of Yoga, I know how it is important and essential to have the right kind of yoga mat. Whenever, I use to step into a store, to buy my yoga mat, seeing the different types of sizes and colour, I always ended up in a confusion. Sometimes, picking up the wrong mat, make me realise it to be too thick, slippery, sticky and easily damaged. This has happened to me a number of times. In the course of my experience, I have started to learn the right kind of choice of Yoga mat which does work for me and also last longer without damage. 

Yoga which has gained immense popularity in the fitness industry, likewise the yoga mat companies have become billion dollar industries. When we step inside a store, there are a lot of different types of yoga mats with different materials, sizes and colour. Keeping up the popularity, comfort and trends, different materials of Yoga mat has been in the market, starting from rubber, plastic, cotton, jute and also PVC, latex. Depending upon our essentially, comfort and durability, the choice should be made. Since it’s for our daily routine use, toxic material like PVC, latex should be avoided. As for new beginners of Yoga, the mat should be of sticky material like natural rubber.

Though not a beginner anymore, my personal preference has been always a natural rubber mat. Such a mat would help better grip and prevent from slipping while holding asanas (Yoga poses). Eco-friendly material like cotton and jute mats have become very popular for health reasons and in a warm climate. They are comfortable and help in absorbing sweat. But the wear and tear are more due to the material. Plastic elastomer is the new material that has been widely used in Yoga mats. These mats are quite cheap and health friendly too. One more important aspect of the Yoga mat is the thickness. Regarding the thickness of the mat, it may vary from a range of 1/16 to 1/4th  of thickness. Again, this is a personal choice depending on what type of floor, we do routine practice and the kind of cushioning required. Usually, the i/8th thickness is most preferred for its durability and performance. Nowadays, yoga mats are available with a travel bag, that helps us to carry along wherever we travel. But, yes, many buy it to look cool and trendy. So, next time, when shopping for a Yoga mat, you do have some tips to grab the right choice for you. 

Ideally, yoga should be performed in close proximity to nature. To breathe freely during Pranayamas (breathing poses) and to breathe fresh air. So, the best places are in the quiet back yard, garden or balcony. But this is not possible in city life. So, any preferred place indoor or outdoor is fine, but it should be a quiet place away from distraction. 

Doing Yoga is not just a fitness regime, but also our dedication, respect and spirituality towards the incredible ancient practice.