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YOGA: IS IT WORTH THE EFFORT?

Priya Hajela

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Yoga stabilises you emotionally, and over time, the physical benefits, the strength, the flexibility, and the stress-busting come into play.
Yoga stabilises you emotionally, and over time, the physical benefits, the strength, the flexibility, and the stress-busting come into play.

Yes, but only if you leave your ego at the door of the Yogashala. That is not only the prevailing philosophy but also the only way that yoga can be truly beneficial.

Many die-hard Yoga practitioners have learned the basic principles of Yoga the hard way. Do Yoga for physical and mental well-being but ensure that your practise is a journey between yourself and your asanas.

Do not work from a place of ego, says Mayuri Singh, a Pune-based restaurant owner (Mad House Grill) who has been practising yoga for over eight years but decided to begin doing yoga on her own four years ago. When Covid hit, she completed an online Yoga teacher certification course and converted one floor of her three-storey restaurant into a Yogashala, complete with hooks and ropes at precisely the right height to enable dangling upside down.  Once the country began opening up, restaurants were still running at 50% capacity, but people began coming to her Yoga classes.

Yoga reached its peak popularity globally a few years ago. Bikram hot yoga was everywhere, pushing people into unnecessarily hot rooms to sweat out their angst in stinky puddles around them. Meanwhile, B.K.S. Iyengar was teaching people to hold poses using props, to not force stiff bodies into a pose but to gradually help them make their way into it.

Since then, Mr Iyengar has gone over to the other side, and Bikram has been sued repeatedly for sexual assault and harassment and is now in hiding in Mexico. Iyengar Yoga is still popular, and many have drilled into their cement balcony walls and hung steel hooks and ropes to swing upside down, ropes chafing into the lower back, feet close together and knees spread apart in Badhukon asana.

In recent times, new-age yoga teachers have taken advantage of Covid lockdowns and begun posting smart yoga videos on YouTube. These American-style videos had decent production value, good sound, and simple, easy-to-follow instructions for asanas that anyone can do. Yoga with Adriene gained the most popularity. Adriene’s easy-to-follow folksy style insisted that everyone work at their own pace. Instead of props, she offered progressions and alternatives to deeper asanas that not everyone could get into.

Cat de Rahm is a wonderful yoga teacher based in Switzerland who made YouTube videos that were spotty on sound and visuals but had depth and technique that ideally should have been taught only in person. Cat was impossibly attractive, spoke in a low, drawn-out bedroom voice, and expected her students to do everything she was doing. The onus was on them to pick the right video – beginner, intermediate, or advanced.

The benefits of yoga as an ancient practise propagated by an endless stream of gurus and teachers are innumerable but also incomprehensible to most people. The stretching-sure, the breathing-absolutely, some strength building maybe. Mayuri says that yoga, as she practises it, the Iyengar variation of Hatha, ‘works on the endocrine system. Because it works with hormones, it stabilises you emotionally, and over time, the physical benefits, the strength, the flexibility, the stress-busting, the self-empowerment, come into play.’ But all this happens only if you work at your pace and not from ego or competitiveness. From the latter two emotions will come impatience, followed by frustration, followed by injury. ‘I broke my wrist doing yoga six years ago because I was working from a place of ego,’ says Mayuri.

Yousuf Kapasi, a celebrity DJ and music producer spoke about his association with yoga since 2005. Because of his dedication to the form and his diligence in practising it, sometimes twice in one day, Yousuf was always the best in the class.

He could do freestanding headstands, handstands, and elbow stands. He rose into the wheel as effortlessly as most people stand up straight and lift their heels.

When Covid came and classes stopped, Yousuf began working on his music, mixing, and producing work that he had never had time to do before. I sat at my computer for hours, ignoring Yoga, ignoring my body, quite certain that my almost two decades of practising would hold me together, but it didn’t. An ageing body and a rigid mind, mixed with a degree of overconfidence and ego, are a heady mix for injury.

Yousuf hasn’t practised yoga for almost two years. The asanas that everyone looked up to him are now failing him.

His back hurts if he attempts the most basic of forward bends. His discs are compressed. Doctors have recommended surgery. He just took a spinal injection that is expected to provide relief, but that remains to be seen.

People who are regular practitioners of Yoga often become Yoga snobs. They scoff at those who don’t do yoga, those who can’t get into the most basic of asanas, and those who moan and groan about ageing and aching bodies.

But these practitioners have adopted a rigidity associated with yoga that is the very antithesis of what yoga is meant to be. Yousuf was one such rigid yogi who didn’t like to go on vacation or take a break from his practise because, he said, it upset his routine. “Yoga is supposed to make you flexible,” he says now.

And finally, there are the yoga class insiders, the groupies, the ones who make everyone else feel like they don’t belong. They are good at the asanas but not so much with emotional stability and self-empowerment.

“You have to do as much as makes you feel good. Keep your age in mind. It is also important to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but know your body and the difference between good pain and bad pain,” says Yousuf as he slowly prepares to restart yoga classes.

The author is a columnist.

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Medically Speaking

Active Covid cases have decreased, with 3,947 cases reported in the last 24 hours

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COVID-19

According to Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday, India’s COVID-19 case tally increased by 3,947 in a day to 4,45,87,307, while active cases decreased to 39,583.

The death toll has risen to 5,28,629, with 18 more deaths, including nine fatalities reconciled by Kerala, according to data updated at 8 a.m.

According to the health ministry, active cases account for 0.09 per cent of total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has increased to 98.73 per cent.

The daily positivity rate was 1.23 per cent, with a weekly positivity rate of 1.44 per cent.

The number of active Covid cases fell by 1,167 in a single day, while the number of people who recovered from the disease rose to 4,40,19,095. The case fatality rate was calculated to be 1.19 per cent.

According to the ministry, the Nationwide Vaccination Drive has resulted in the administration of 218.52 crore total vaccine doses (94.84 crores second dose and 21.19 crore precaution dose).

Two deaths were reported in Maharashtra and West Bengal, and one each in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka, Haryana, and Chhattisgarh. Kerala has made amends for nine deaths.

On August 7, 2020, India’s COVID-19 case tally surpassed 20 lakh, followed by 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5, and 50 lakh on September 16. It surpassed 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20, and one crore on December 19.

Last year, the country passed the two crore mark on May 4 and the three crore mark on June 23. On January 25, this year, it surpassed the four-crore mark.

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Medically Speaking

PREVENTION: HOW TO KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY AT AGE 40

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PREVENTION: HOW TO KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY AT AGE 40

An individual becomes more concerned about their health as they reach a certain age. As the most vital organ of the body, the heart requires extreme care as its chances of developing cardiac diseases increase with age.
Among older people, heart disease is the leading cause of morbidity. To reduce the risk of CVD in middle age, it is recommended to maintain or increase physical activity. Dr AnbuPandian, Medical Advisor, Agatsa, shared some tips to keep the heart healthy at 40 with us.

Stay Active
The most effective way to prevent heart disease at 40 is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. If you work nine hours in an office job, take short breaks every two hours. Taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking short distances instead of using a vehicle or public transportation. Exercise, meditate, swim, play basketball, dance, and do yoga—whatever you love.

Exercise Regularly
Physical exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on heart health in comparison to sedentary lifestyles in various studies. A great quality of life is dependent on a healthy heart. Maintaining a regular exercise routine will keep the heart healthy for years to come.

Regular Heart Health Check-ups
A heart health check-up is essential at every stage of life, but becomes especially crucial after age 40. There are several factors that determine how often a person should get a check-up, including smoking, alcohol consumption, heart disease in the family, being overweight, and diabetes. Blood sugar and cholesterol levels should also be monitored closely. Heart diseases can be better treated if they are detected early. Once a person crosses the age of 40, a yearly checkup is mandatory. The physician may recommend more frequent check-ups if heart disease is detected.
As age increases, metabolism tends to decrease by 5 % every decade after 40. Hormonal imbalance and bone density are two other significant changes that the body registers while getting old. Increase the intake of fruits rich in Vitamin C. All citrus fruits, for that matter, have a bonus heart-healthy benefit. The best diet for preventing cardiac disease is one that is full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry, and vegetable oils. Individuals who follow their dietary pattern have a 31% lower risk of heart disease than those who consume junk food.

Remote Monitoring Machines
Remote monitoring machines have been around for years but have gained significant prominence recently, thus resulting in high demand. Such devices are used on a daily basis to monitor diseases such as heart attacks, hypertension, and diabetes. These devices are very portable, user-friendly and capture patients’ health parameters via cables and sensors. These devices are cost-effective for patients because they reduce medical care costs and provide more timely intervention for chronic conditions. No one can slow down the ageing process. However, with proper care, one can be more fit, look younger, and lead a more energetic and active life. Life doesn’t end, but begins afresh again at 40!
The author is a Medical Advisor at Agatsa.

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Medically Speaking

Why heart attacks are on the rise among women

Even though heart ailments are on the rise among women, a lack of awareness has prevented many from getting timely treatment and diagnosis of the disease.

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Why heart attacks are on the rise among women

Heart diseases are no longer a “men’s problem” and women too are equally prone to them. According to a recent report published by the National Family Health Survey, it was found that the overall prevalence of undiagnosed hypertension in women of the age group 15–49 years is 18.69% in India, which busts the myths that heat conditions are most prevalent among men.
Several other international studies have also indicated that heart ailments are now a leading cause of death among women, resulting in ten times more fatalities than breast cancer. Even though heart ailments are on the rise among women, a lack of awareness has prevented many from getting timely treatment and diagnosis of the disease.
Why are heart diseases going undetected in women? While ensuring the well-being of their loved ones, women in India tend to ignore their own needs and often neglect their health. For instance, if a woman has mild chest pain, she would rather ignore the symptoms and focus on managing the work/household chores rather than visiting a doctor. The patriarchal setup of our society also expects women to keep the well-being of others at the forefront rather than taking care of themselves, which results in late diagnosis and is one of the primary causes of increasing heart ailments among women in the country.
As the symptoms of a heart attack are different in both men and women, many women often don’t know if they have already suffered one or two heart attacks in the past until eventually, they visit a doctor. While in men, a heart attack usually results in extreme and sudden chest pain and breaking out in cold sweats, whereas in women, the symptoms are usually mild and heart attacks can be frequent and smaller. The symptoms in women can range from jaw pain to fatigue to pain in the neck and back to sweating or just heartburn, indicating the need for them to undergo regular health check-ups and take proactive measures to ensure overall well-being.
Which age group is most susceptible to heart attacks and what are the major concerns?
Women of the age group 45–55 years are at a high risk of experiencing a heart attack due to low levels of estrogen post menopause, work and family-related stress, loneliness, and lack of physical activity. More women in this age group may go undiagnosed and have atypical symptoms compared to men.
The second most affected age group is 60 years of age, where the biological deterioration makes both men and women more susceptible to heart attacks. High cholesterol, blood pressure, obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and diabetes are also some of the main concerns that make women more prone to cardiovascular diseases.
How can women take care of themselves and keep heart attacks at bay?
There are several steps that women can take to prevent heart ailments, such as:

  1. Educate yourself and increase awareness about the risk factors that can lead to blockages.
  2. Avoid smoking or the use of tobacco.
  3. Engage in physical activities like yoga, dancing, running, and walking for 30–45 minutes every day to maintain heart health and overcome obesity.
  4. Avoid junk food, aerated drinks and adopt a balanced diet. Healthy heart diets that include complex carbohydrates, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and less sugar, salt, and fat can have a positive impact on heart health.
    Lastly, it is important to note that gender has nothing to do with heart attacks, and the condition affects both men and women equally. However, adopting a healthy lifestyle and undergoing regular health checkups can help you get the gift of good health.

The author is a Senior Consultant at Interventional
Cardiology, Aster CMI
Hospital, Bangalore.

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Medically Speaking

HEALTHY LIFESTYLE: Role of nutraceuticals in heart health

The never-ending work of the heart and the constant workload necessitate healthy dietary patterns and lifestyles.

Dr Anish Desai

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HEALTHY LIFESTYLE: Role of nutraceuticals in heart health

The growing evidence of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) in both developing and developed nations over the last 20 years has made CVDs a global healthcare priority. As per the WHO, heart attacks and strokes account for 85% of all CVD deaths. It is responsible for an estimated 31% of all deaths worldwide, with 17.9 million deaths yearly. More than 75% of all cardiovascular events occur in low- and middle-income countries. CVDs are the leading cause of death worldwide, with more people dying from them each year than from any other cause.
Role of diet in the maintenance of a healthy heart:
The never-ending work of the heart and the constant workload necessitate healthy dietary patterns and lifestyles. One of the most important factors that can be changed to promote heart health is diet. An unhealthy diet high in saturated fat and carbohydrates is linked to abnormal blood lipid levels, which increases the risk of heart disease.

Use of
Nutraceuticals in heart health:
Nutraceuticals refer to substances that are either food or a component of nutrition that help in the prevention, protection, and/or treatment of chronic diseases. Nutraceuticals can maintain health, slow the progression of lifelong or chronic diseases, and slow aging. Nutraceuticals are considered superior to chemical medicines due to their lack of side effects and ease of access.
• Omega-3 fatty acids: They possess a beneficial effect on the heart as it helps in reducing the risk and advancement of cardiovascular disease. Clinical studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids lower serum triglyceride levels, increase fatty acid degradation, and clear plasma triglycerides. They also help to lower systolic and diastolic pressure in hypertension patients. Foods which are rich in omega-3-fatty acids are flax seed, mackerel, salmon fish, cod fish, etc.
• Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): Clinical data revealed that a high dose of CoQ10 helps maintain a healthy heart by reducing lipoprotein oxidation and forming atherosclerotic lesions. Foods such as oily fish (salmon, tuna), grape seed, soyabean, avocado, broccoli, peanuts, and soybeans contain a high amount of CoQ10 in them.
• Carotenoids: Carotenoids such as lycopene can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis by prohibiting endothelial dysfunction and lowering LDL levels. Tomato, red cabbage, beet root, papaya, and watermelon are good sources of carotenoids.
• Polyphenols: Polyphenols present in fruits and vegetables improve lipid metabolism, reduce blood pressure and delay the progression of heart diseases. Almonds, cherries, berries, black olives, cloves contain a high concentration of polyphenols.
• Use of micronutrients: Supplementation with micronutrients such as zinc, selenium, magnesium, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin E exerts a protective effect on the heart by reducing endothelial cell damage, production of nitric oxide, and inhibiting LDL-c oxidation.
Due to the modern lifestyle, it is imperative to maintain a healthy heart. Regular consumption of nutraceuticals will help to prevent cardiovascular diseases and help to follow a healthy lifestyle.

The author is MD, Clinical Pharmacologist and
Nutra-ceutical Physician, Founder and CEO IntelliMed Healthcare Suctions.

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Health & Wellness

Kashmiri ASHA worker serves as inspiration by donating blood 28 times

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A 32-year-old woman named Bilqees Ara, an ASHA worker, has donated blood 28 times since 2012. She has served as an inspiration to others across the nation.

Bilqees, who is from the Handwara Tehsil in the Kupwara area of North Kashmir, stated that she understands the “importance of blood”.

She said that by donating a pint of blood, she not only saves a precious life but an entire family.

She began donating blood in 2012 and has since given 28 pints.

She expressed her gratitude and pride at being the saviour of so many patients in the Kashmir valley.

I’ve seen people cry helplessly as they try to get blood to save their loved ones, but I’m proud of myself because I’ve arranged blood for them as well. “I felt an inner joy after that,” she said.

In Kashmir, she is known as the “Blood Woman of Kashmir”.

She is a registered blood donor. Whenever a need arises, the officials at the Blood Bank at Handwara hospital call her and, within the shortest span of time, she makes herself available to donate blood.

Women should come forward and do this as there is nothing to be afraid of. This is to be done for society, she said. She also said that she wondered who else would do it if she refused.

If a person has blood and courage, why can’t he give it to someone else in a time of need? She asked.

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Health & Wellness

Covid facilities to reduce in Delhi amid drop in cases

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The Delhi government has closed 11 Covid care facilities because to a consistent reduction in cases. Two Covid Care Centers are operational at Ambedkar Nagar Hospital, which has 50 beds, and Balak Ram Hospital, which has 25 beds, according to a government report. Only five admissions were registered at Ambedkar Nagar Hospital over the past three months, while there were none at Balak Ram Hospital.

The number of patients has steadily decreased at the remaining CCCs as well, according to reports.

According to officials, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority on Thursday decided to scale back the medical staff and infrastructure that had been deployed for COVID management in a planned manner. The health department will now formulate an action plan in response to this decision.

“The deven CCCs were closed and dismantled by Delhi government and one by the Centre and three others with total 4000 bed capacity- Radha Saomi Satsang ,Chattarpur, Sawan Kirpal, Burari , and Sant Nirankari, Burari- were closed but not yet dismantled”, officials said.

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