Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Yoga and Mental Health

Amidst the din and clamour of the modern life, a piercing eye does not fail to detect the latent sense of dismay and frustration in man. The materialistic pursuit of deriving hedonistic sensous pleasures has left an emptiness which has engulfed the man from all angles rendering him incapable of positive thinking and spiritual awakening.

Mind has been gripped by unknown fears, hallucinations, and what not. All around we feel an army of mentally and physically emaciated persons who count their days on the strength of sedatives, hypnotics and tranquilisers to get a temporary peace of mind which still eludes them. The situation is not only alarming but also grim. If these suicidal tendencies are not successfully checked and this dangerous drift towards obvious chaos is not halted there is no escape for humanity from disastar.

One wonders as to what has happened to this ancient land of Rishis and Munis. For a while it seemed that the age old science of Yoga which had enabled our ancestors to overcome even the fear of death has vanished completely and there is no one to surive this great science It is, however, heartening to note that some Yoga devotees have revived the art of Mahayogeshwar Lord Krishna scientifically enunciated by the Seer Patanjali. Sufficient literature is now available allover the world and an honest effort is being made to inculcate the spirit of Yoga in the individuals to enable them to overcome stress, anxiety, etc. and to live a blooming life. Yoga has manifold advantages : Physical, Mental and Spiritual. But the scope of the present article has only been limited to the mental health. Modern psychology is still in infancy and has not fully grasped the complete intricacies of the mind despite best efforts of giants like Freud, Joad, Jung and Havelock Ellis etc.

On the other hand our ancient Rishis were fully aware of the mysteries and powers of mind and emphasis was laid on controlling the mind which runs like an unbridled horse. For this purpose a code of conduct and ethics was evolved in the form of Yogic Kriyas including Asanas which are an important prelude to the training of the mind. Because a powerful and sound mind would dwell only in a healthy and sound body and so Yoga Asanas are very essential for every Sadhak who must religiously practice daily to rise high in the intellectual, ethical and spiritual fields.

Before we proceed further on the subject under reference it is very important to study and understand the chief causes of mental imbalance. Broadly it can be divided in the following main categories:

  1. Congenital disorders
  2. Heriditary defficiencies
  3. Biological defects like space occupying tensions of the brain and menengitis etc.
  4. Psychological and functional reasons
  5. Economic Pressures
  6. Stress and Strain due to fast life and morbid thinking.

Stress Management and yoga

Stress is a condition of tension in the body or mind. It can be physical and mental in nature. With more and more advancement in science and technology and man’s rat rare to be progressive, mental stress began to increase. To day there are more mentally stressed persons than the physically stressed ones. ‘Stress management’ means reducing mental stress: Mental stress has many reasons.

Chang Life Style

When our life-style changes from a simple to a more and more complex style, our wants keep on increasing and this tendency becomes a permanent source of our mental stress. Change in food and eating habits too causes stress. Our diet used to be simple and easy to digest. Now many of us prefer heavy and complicated food as part of our life style. These are difficult to digest. They cause heaviness in the system and constipation. This leads to sleeplessness and mental stress. Another cause of mental stress, laziness and irritation is the growing habit of going to bed too late in the night.

Attitude in life

Some of us adopt a very rigid attitude in life or become moody by habit which makes our life more of a burden than a pleasure. We become suspicious, friendless and even isolated and get a lot of mental tension. Our rigid attitude in our official or professional life causing clash with our seniors and customers too becomes a major source of tension. Over ambitions to rise in fife too rapidly creates enemies all around. Professional jealousy too causes an acute form of stress. The desire to get more and more in life, without being satisfied with what we have, is our enemy No. 1. It must be controlled and conquered over.

Social Aspiration

Our social customs are becoming more and more complicated and our tendency to live like our neighbours who have more wealth, is a basic cause of stress. We beg, borrow and steal to show off our riches beyond our means. The worst of it is that we try to earn money even by corrupt practices to keep the show on. All this becomes a source of our worries and tension. We become a slave to money, loose the pleasure of simple living and deprive our selves from real joy of life, the Anandam’ or bliss that lies in simple living and high thinking. Thus we ourselves are responsible for all our mental stress. It is said prevention is better than cure. This is also true for mental stress.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Baddha Padmasana

This is a variation of Padmasana. This asana is not meant for meditation. It is chiefly meant for the improvement of health and for making the body strong. This asana is difficult to perform. Those who are unable to practise this asana should not be disappointed. They should patiently try to accomplish the final position.


Sit in Padmasana with legs crossed. The heels should touch the lower part of the abdomen. Swing the right arm behind the back of the shoulder and bring the hand near the left hip. Catch the left big toe. Similarly, swing the left arm and hold the right big toe. If you experience difficulty in holding the toes, bend slightly forward and make it convenient to hold the big toes. After catching the toes, sit erect as before and breathe normally. Stay in this position for one or two minutes in the initial stage. Gradually increase the time till you can stay in the position for ten minutes.


  1. In this asana, the weight of the body is t by the knees and the ankle-joints, so the joints of the legs strong.
  2. Both the heels of the legs get sufficient exercise.
  3. The continuous practice of this asana helps the person in overcome gradually the weakness of the heart, the lungs, the I’’u the liver and the spine. Moreover, it reduces the pain in knees and the ankle-joints.
  4. This asana helps to cure ailments like indigestion, stomachache, etc.
  5. By practising this asana one can get all the advantages padmasana.


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