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A Matter of Health (Integration of Yoga and Western Medicine for Prevention and Cure)
A Matter of Health (Integration of Yoga and Western Medicine for Prevention and Cure)
Description
Introduction

The great science of yoga is India’s unequalled gift to mankind. If mankind is to evolve further, and if it is to save itself from its own aggressive tendencies, the only path open is through the science of yoga. Though the ultimate goal of this science is the realization of the Absolute, in day to day life it is useful and necessary to maintain mental and bodily health. Bodily exercises (asanas), breath control (pranayama) and mind control (dhyana) are all helpful to conquer bodily and mental ills. The role of the mind in the creation of health and ill-health has been well emphasized by Ayurvedic physicians. In praising Dhanvanthiri, the first sloka begins by emphasizing that diseases arise in the body due to problems of the mind like raga (excessive desire). The great influence of the mind over the body, its health and functioning, was well understood by our ancients; hence, throughout our glorious history, control of the mind was given prime importance for achieving health of the body, happiness of the mind and harmony with society and the universe.

The great Patanjali, who gave us the Yoga Sutras, has been praised as the one who gave us yoga for discipline of the mind, medicines for health of the body and grammar for purity of the tongue (language). The close association of health and yoga has always been emphasized in ayurvedic texts. Apart from medicines, surgical practices and mantras, yoga was an accepted method of treatment in ayurveda. Hence it is appropriate that Dr. Krishna Raman has compiled this synthesis of medicine and yoga.

Having studied modern medicine and having had training in yoga under the great master, Sri B.K.S. Iyengar, Dr. Krishna Raman is a fit person to attempt this difficult task and he has done it well. This compendium will be useful to both medical and lay persons. The first section, on Lifestyles. Is most appropriate for modern living with its stresses and straings. Health problems of professionals, sportspersons, artists, different age groups and women are well presented and the section provides interesting and useful information. After explaining in simple terms the structure and functions of various parts of the body, the value of yoga in medical disorders is discussed in lucid terms.

It was a pleasure to go through this book. It will be found useful by persons of all ages and also by modern medical practitioners who may not know all the nuances of yogic practices. It is heartening to know that in this age of hurry and stress and of emphasis on high technology medicine, there are well-established techniques in the science of yoga to restore one’s health and also to contribute to a life of positive health, with happiness and harmony.

Foreword

I am filled with joy in writing this note about the book, A Matter of Health: Integration of Yoga & Western Medicine for Prevention & Cure by my pupil, Dr. Krishna Raman. A book of this kind, on therapeutic yoga, has been long awaited. Dr. Krishna Raman, a physician who is also well trained in the intricacies of yoga, has convincingly made a case for an alternative approach to the treatment of various diseases afflicting human beings today. His work is a definitive presentation of therapeutic yoga for the promotion of holistic health as well as for prevention of diseases. He has not only discussed the value of yoga as such, but also the efficiency of yogic asanas and pranayama as part of a healing art.

While conceding the scope and efficacy of allopathic medicine, the author nevertheless draws our attention to the fact that allopathy has its shortcomings and its side effects are many and debilitating. Though considered good for immediate relief, it often doesn’t go to the root cause of the problem to begin the cure.

Dr. Raman has divided his work into an introduction and four sections. In the Introduction, he explains yoga as described by the father of yoga, Sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. In a nutshell, the author explains the teachings of Patanjali, how yogic discipline stills and quietens the mind to experience calmness and serenity as well as silence in general and how asanas and pranayama help man to succeed in this endeavor. He strongly emphasizes that the mind plays a significant role in maintaining and sustaining sound physical health, clarity of thought and spiritual benevolence, if yoga is practiced regularly as a part of one’s daily activities. At the same time the has dealt very effectively with how yoga prevents the onset of diseases.

In Section I, Dr. Raman discusses the kinds of food that are beneficial to the body and the body’s need for fats, proteins, carbohydrates, fibers, minerals and vitamins and discusses various life styles - housewife, artists, professional executive and athlete - and points out how anyone, of any age group, can use yogic practices to counteract and prevent the illnesses he or she is particularly susceptible to according to his or her vocation, environment, attitude and aptitude.

The chapter on sports is exhaustive. In it the author discusses how yogic asanas can help alleviate the negative repercussions of any sport. I am glad to note that he has devoted a chapter to pregnancy, calling it ‘an amazing wonder of nature’. He explains the immense value of asanas and pranayama for pregnant women, pointing out the ways to avoid complications that can follow pregnancy and how women can have a safe delivery, free of problems and pain.

Section II of the book is on functional anatomy and physiology. Unless we know how our body is fashioned and how it works, we will not be able to understand what can go wrong with it and how best it can be set right.

The body is the most complicated machinery, with a superb capacity for adjustment, possessing a powerful mind of its own. Though it is the machine most abused by man, it tries to adapt to the fanciful thoughts of the mind; but it gives way when it can no longer withstand the onslaught of desires and ambitions. He ends this section explaining how the ethical, physical, physiological, mental and intellectual disciplines of yoga help to maintain all the systems in our body to function with harmony and balance.

In Section III the importance of yogic exercises and preservation of health is emphasized. One can argue that many people who do not exercise at all still live to a ripe old age. Living in not important, but living in a meaningful way with benevolent health is. It must be a dynamic, electrifying life to be worth living. Yoga, which is akin to nature wherein the five elements of the body are kept in a balanced ratio, keeps at bay the degenerating effects of aging and all health.

As a medical professional, Dr. Krishna Raman considers asanas and pranayama the best tools to maintain health in the cellular system. The arithmetic and geometry of yogic postures guarantee that every part of the body used is invigorated with fresh blood. The deliberate and steady holding of the poses, with their rinsing, squeezing and drying actions, is far superior to hasty, jerky workouts. The author describes various asanas - standing, sitting, forward and backward extensions, inversions, twists, balancing - and explains the effect of each on the muscular, organic and glandular systems. He also shows how the techniques of pranayama (science of the breath) can be used as therapy.

In the chapter on props, Dr. Raman demonstrates the use of yoga props that I invented for those patients who are weak or elderly and for those who are unable to practice independently. He demonstrates very clearly the quick results that can be obtained by employing simple equipment.

The last section of the book is a discussion of eighteen common medical disorders that particularly lend themselves to yoga therapy. Their causes and symptosm are listed, their medical management is expounded and treatment by yoga, in conjunction with allopathy or on its own, is recommended. The author has shown how excessive and prolonged medication and/or surgery can sometimes be avoided through the practice of asanas and pranayama.

The book is richly illustrated with the diagrams and photographs.

This is a noteworthy attempt by a physician to use asanas and pranayama for different needs and ailment by using props. The book is the culmination of his research in the field of therapeutic yoga. He has observed and recorded actual changes in his patients after they had practiced yogic asanas as required.

I am proud of Dr. Krishna Raman for his scientific approach, meticulous treatment and presentation of the age old science of yoga in an appealing way for the general public. It has been said that East and West can never meet, but Dr. Raman has shown through his work that East and West can indeed meet where knowledge is concerned.

In my opinion this book will be invaluable to people exploring alternative approaches to health care. It will also be a great asset to yoga students in general and especially valuable to yoga teachers.

If Dr. Krishna Raman’s work is well received, I shall be grateful for having shared in its presentation.

Preface to the Second Edition

I thank my readers who are responsible for my bringing out the third edition of this book. So much of research has been done I the field of exercise and health. Many studies confirm what has already been said and newer ones throw light on other issues. The obsession with staying healthy is more than ever before. At the cost of redundancy, it must be remembered that health is not entirely in our hands as our past karma plays a definitive role. We merely do what is needed from the material plane-God’s grace gives us the fruits.

Yoga has also become an obsession which is not healthy. The trend in India these days is to use yoga for any situation in life. The request comes for all kind of ailments for which yoga has no role at all. Some of the incredulous claims include curing of myopia, jaundice (believe it or not), growth retardation, thyroid disorders and so on. One can easily see banners citing “effective yoga therapy for all aliments”. There is no point in faulting the claimants for this. Those who seek relief from yoga should educate themselves about their ailment before attempting to understand whether yoga can help. In most situations the seeker is ignorant about the working of the ailment and of the role of yoga. I suggest that those who seek relief from yoga first consult their physician to ascertain whether yoga can help or not before embarking on their yoga practice. This will avoid unnecessary disappointments.

When I first wrote this book my perception of the role of yoga as a therapy was different from what it is now. As I have seen clearly the precise place of yoga in relation to clinical ailments, I have no doubt as to when and where it will work. The book has been edited to fall in line with this and I hope it puts my readers in a clear light. The readers are also advised to read my second book Yoga and Medical Science: FAQ which contains in-depth discussion on yoga in relation to medicine (over 450 Q&A). It also contains ultrasound images of several yoga poses that precisely clarify arterial flow patterns.

In the field of medicine learning never ceases as each patient teaches us something. More than anything else, we need to be grateful to them for this. Confidence building is the first step in betterment of health and as physicians we should focus on this. This will improve doctor patient relationship too and prevent unnecessary litigations. A relationship of trust is needed between physician and patient. Ultimately let us pray that all living beings in all planes of existence be happy- Samasta loka sukino bhavantu!

Preface to the First Edition

The human body and mind are gifts of God: the capital given to us without any interest payable. For anything in life to be fulfilled, the body should be healthy and this needs constant looking after. Just as a car needs constant care, the body and mind need the same. This is best done by regular exercise. Awareness of this is certainly better now than many years ago, but exercise oriented persons still form a minority in our vast world. In today’s fast world, with the easy availability of different types of cuisines, both vegetarian and non vegetarian, junk food, alcohol and cigarettes, and the constant bombarding of our consciousness with advertisement of such foods through different media, we succumb, with resultant health problems.

Mental health is a predecessor to physical health. Physical health is possible only through exercise and mental health through regulating our living in every facet of life. Our ancient sages have given us guidelines for mental and physical well being but we rarely follow, them. Health can be achieved only if we have a firm commitment to it which lasts all our lives. It may be that sometimes, with the best of care, we may fall ill, but this illness will not damage our bodies in the way it could if we did not take care. Our duty to our body and mind should be done; the rest is left to the higher power. This is the way to health, a commodity so sorely needed today.

I began practicing yoga at the age of 14. Little did I then realize that yoga would play a major part in my life. Having decided early in my life to join the medical world which brings one close to the inner workings of the human body, I graduated from a conventional western medical school. But all along I realized the need to treat clinical problems as non invasively as possible. To further my own yoga frontier, I studied with the famous Sri B.K.S. Iyengar, the foremost exponent of yoga is the world today. As my Guru, Sri B.K.S Iyengar has infused me, ever since our first meeting in 1979, with an enormous dynamism and positivism in the field of health which has helped me tremendously to be a physician of a different kind, with a different perception of health and disease.

The Uniqueness of “Iyengar Yoga”

The system of yoga taught by Sri B.K.S. Iyengar has popularly come to be known as “Iyengar yoga”. There is a distinct difference between this and other systems, which places his teachings for above all else. This is particularly so when one analyses his methods medically. Medically, when the human body is exercised and the internal organs are used along with the external, certain principles have to be followed in order not to injure the body. In most yoga schools, there is no depth to the teaching of yoga, as can be seen if one happens to be a physician. Secondly, this system can be used in mainstream medicine to solve major medical problems where other systems have failed. I have studied different systems and have found that there is a lack of anatomical guidelines in the execution of asanas and pranayama.

To illustrate this I will give several examples. In standing poses (Trikonasana, for example), if one observes students trained in other systems, there is no arithmetical and geometrical perfection and certain areas are ill affected. Again, in Headstand, there is no guideline in other systems on how to prevent pressure on the brain due to the increase in blood flow velocity; whereas, in “Iyengar yoga”, one learns to adjust the blood flow in such a way as to obtain the correct effect inside. This can be confirmed by sonographic studies. The frontal and the back brain have to be kept parallel in order to ensure proper and optimum blood flow and relaxation of the neurons of the brain. Unless one practices the different systems, it is difficult to understand this. Generally, yoga is done slowly and with a lot of stretching, but there is no strength in the stretch and contraction is totally forgotten. Moreover, I have seen number of patients consulting me with no relief from other systems and when the protocols are followed relief results very soon.

Any exercise has to strengthen, tone up the system and preserve the body as one grows older. To achieve this, the different parameters of the body need to be observed professional, I find that only “Iyengar yoga” achieves this. In this system, the body is made robust both outside and inside. A good example is the practice of backbends which provide vitality to the system. In “Iyengar yoga” one insists on a certain geometric shape of the asana, which alone provides cardio-respiratory health; whereas, in other systems, one can observe incorrect shapes and practitioners suffering ill health later on.

For example, in Urdhva Dhanurasana, medically, only at a particular angle of the dorsal spine does the heart pump efficiently. This is logical as certain angles compress the heart. The correct angle is taught in the Iyengar system. As far as possible, the skin on the front and back of the body have to be kept parallel to each other. The pelvic girdle should not collapse which then results in compression of the pelvic organs. Whether the geometry of asanas is at all necessary is a concept that is not thought of in other schools of yoga. Subtleties of yogic practice are available only in the Iyengar system. The test of practice is when the practitioner suffers pain or disease, or secures no relief, in spite of practicing yoga, and relief results from the moment the correct method is learnt.

I suffered severe backaches even though I practiced yoga and no school of thought gave me relief. For years I suffered. Stretching the spine in a different way, as taught by Sri Iyengar, immediately provided an immense change. This made me realize that there is much more to yoga than generally understood and my interest was provoked. This cannot be appreciated by lay persons who do not know anatomy. In “Iyengar yoga”, instructions are given on how to strengthen tendons, arteries, veins, bones, organs, etc. an obvious example is Sri Iyengar himself. Today, there is no one of his age who can still perform the asanas he did as a child of 14 and one can easily appreciate the vitality in his body the moment he demonstrates his body the moment he demonstrates the asanas. I am sure any medical professional who has observed his demonstration can vouch for this.

In “Iyengar yoga”, the mind is brought to focus on different areas of the body for correct adjustment. In other systems, breathing is taught instead and this is medically harmful. In the practice of asanas, until the lungs can expand perfectly, normal breathing should be observed. This is a vital medical tenet. It is also mentioned in the Yoga Sutras that, unless mastery in an asana in reached, breathing should not be done. This is ignored by all other schools of yoga. In a beginner, the breath is shaky and when asanas are practiced with shaky breathing ill health results. In “Iyengar yoga”, breathing in an asana is taken from the superficial to the subterranean plane to ventilate the cells of the body and this is achieved only if the relevant areas can open up to the breath. This means proper performance of asanas. In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, it is said that the mind is the king of the senses and breath is the king of the mind; calm the breath and the mind is quiet (though reverse is also true). This should be carefully followed. When one medically examines personals trained in other schools, their body parameters lag far behind students trained in the Iyengar system.

The body has to be kept dynamic and yet relaxed. In the Iyengar system, the performance of asanas creates a certain “space” between the spindles of the nerves and skin, resulting in profound neurological relaxation. This happens only if every part of the body is put to use.

I have already discussed about the standing and inverted poses. In forward bends, if the diaphragm is not kept parallel to the floor, the heart is compressed. If the anterior-posterior diameter is altered the thoracic organs are pressurized. This is taught only in the Iyengar system. In twisting poses, the inner and outer spine have to be kept in alignment, else the spine is not used symmetrically. The chest shape should be similar to Tadasana. In balancing poses, the mind should be kept calm, which means the front and back portions of the body have to be kept like the scales of a balance and one should distribute the body weight in such a way that the pose is arithmetically balanced. In symmetrical and asymmetrical poses like Bakasana and Eka pada Bakasana, one has to really locate the centre of gravity for the mind to be relaxed. Balancing poses therefore mean a balanced action of the body and mind in an asana and not a pose full of tension.

Similarly, there are many features of each pose which have to be followed for perfect safety in practice. Then, as Patanjali says, stira sukham asanam (“the posture is pleasant, comfortable and easy”). The aim of yoga is sammatwam yoga uchathe - yoga should bring to the body and mind an even functioning of the physical, mental, emotional and psychological parts of our being. The asanas and pranayama should be practiced to provide a perfect balance between the cells of the body. This is integrated yogic practice.

At Sri Iyengar’s institute I observed objectively, as a clinician might, many serious medical disorders forsaken by western medicine either during or after treatment by its methods, securing great relief with yoga. Moreover, Sri Iyengar’s methods were radically different from those of any other yoga school I had seen. It seemed more like a laboratory. Slowly I understood the need for practicing yoga scientifically, both for healthy people and for patients, and my sojourn in the field of yoga began. Though Sri Iyengar is not a physician, his understanding of the human body is intricate. I owe all my knowledge of the intricacies of yoga and the human body and its relation to medical science to my guru.

As an intern trained by Prof K.V. Thiruvengadam, doyen in the field of internal medicine, my interest in applying this science of yoga to my patients was stimulated. I have used yoga for disorders in medicine I would never have believed treatable by western medicine or, for that matter, treatable at all. I studied and researched Guruji’s methods, and found enormous clinical changes in my patients. Much work remains to be done as yoga has to be introduced into mainstream medicine in both ward and school.

In this book I have tried to explain in as simple terms as possible human anatomy to the extent known today with our sophisticated gadgetry and the science of yoga. I have also explained several important and common medical disorders and their treatment, according to both western medicine and yoga. At the end of this, the reader can understand the tremendous need for inculcating yoga into daily life, and how it can be effectively used, with western medicine or alone as a primary modality of therapy if need be. If in the process of all this, dear reader, the truth of what is said is realized, then you and I have been in true communion.

I express here my gratitude to all those who have helped me with this work.

To Mr. T.S. Santhanam, Chairman, Sundaram Finance, for his kind and generous financial support for the production of the book.

To Prof. K.V. Thiruvengadam who taught me all I know in western medicine and particularly the right approach to analyzing a health problem, and the only person who taught me to enjoy the deeper realms of medicine, making it a joy.

To Dr. S. Suresh and his wife Dr. Indirani of Mediscan Systems, Madras, India, and their team, for patiently helping me to study many vascular flow patterns and organ adjustments in different asanas; for his patience in studying echo and ultrasound changes in odd positions never used in medicine, as in head stand, twisting poses, etc!

To Ms. Deepika Rajagopal for her kind willingness to pose for the photographs in the section on pregnancy.

To Mr. S.R. Balachander for typing my manuscript.

To Mr. Sridhar and Mr. Chella for patiently photographing my poses.

To Mr. Chelliah, for providing accurately designed props for use. Mr. Chelliah designed my guru’s props to the right size, often without written measurements.

To Dr. C.R. Sundaram for allowing access to the yoga sutras from the library in Sanskrit College.

To Dr. Pramila Gurumurty for helping me to access books on music.

To my parents, who set an example of how a person should live and shape oneself. To my sister, from whom I learnt not to be fanatical on any subject. To my brother-in-law, in interacting with whom I learnt to have a rational approach to metaphysical science.

To my wife who painstakingly drew the anatomical diagrams and patiently bore my constant impatience to finish the work in a very short period and helped me at every stage of the book.

To everyone who is devoted to yoga.

Back of the Book

Dr. Krishna Raman, MBBS FCCP, Chennai, India, combines Western medicine and yoga to treat both common and complicated ailments and has had remarkable success for the last twenty years.

Dr. Raman’s work in this field has been inspired by the doyen of yoga, Mr. B.K.S. Iyengar. Dr. Raman has been practicing yoga since he was 14. Under Mr. Iyengar’s tutelage he learnt about the immense clinical potential of yoga.

With an educational background in medicine from Madras Medical College, Dr. Raman decided to combine the two sciences of medicine and yoga, to treat his patients with excellent, even amazing, results. He has achieved unprecedented success in curative and preventive health care. This book details his philosophies, experiences and achievements in the fusion of an ancient science with a modern one, and demonstrates how yoga combined with Western medicine can provide a holistic approach to a cost-effective health care system where the preventive aspects of health care are afforded the importance they deserve.

Packed with a wealth of information, this book includes:

Numerous photographs and over 200 diagrams of the human body.
Basic concepts of yoga in relation to Western medicine.
Rational explanations of the concepts of diet and choice of yoga as the best method of exercise.
Management of various lifestyles and their inherent health problems - the executives, the geriatrics, artists, sportspersons, doctors, homemakers - using Patanjali’s sutras, Western medicine, asanas and pranayama.
Medical explanations of the mechanisms of asanas and pranayama by a physician…as never before.
Understanding the vast clinical potential of yoga as a non-invasive tool and its use in preventive health, making health care highly cost-effective.
The clinical benefits of utilizing yoga as a tool for health care.
Judicious solutions to a wide variety of common and important medical disorders using Western medicine and yoga - two dimensional health care.

Contents

Introduction xi
Foreword xii
Preface to Second Edition xiv
Understanding Yoga 1
Section I: Lifestyles 13
Health and Food 15
The Growing Years, the Aged and Yoga 38
Yoga in Professional Life 55
Yoga and Sports 72
The Artist and Yoga 115
Women and Yoga 128
Pregnant Women and Yoga 146
Section II : Functional Anatomy and Physiology 181
Cells and Tissues 183
The Skin 192
The Bony Skeleton 194
Joints 201
Muscles 206
The Cardiovascular System 215
The Haematological System 227
The Respiratory System 231
The Digestive System 236
The Renal System 244
The Endocrine System 247
The Nervous System 251
The Special Senses 262
The Reproductive Systems 267
Yoga as a Means of Preserving the Body 272
Section III : Exercise, Asanas, Pranayama and Props 281
The Importance of Exercise 283
Asanas 294
Pranayama 326
Props 332
Section IV : Medical Disorders and their Management 341
Yoga as Medicine 343
Cardiovascular Disorders 350
Pulmonary Diseases 369
Gastroenterologic Diseases 377
Metabolic Diseases 382
Neurological Diseases 390
Gynaecological Diseases 398
ENT Diseases 410
Orthopaedic Diseases 417
Need for Extended Work with Therapeutic Yoga 467
Appendix 470
Glossary 472
List of Illustrations 476
Index 483

A Matter of Health (Integration of Yoga and Western Medicine for Prevention and Cure)

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2008
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Weight of the Book: 1.450 kg
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Introduction

The great science of yoga is India’s unequalled gift to mankind. If mankind is to evolve further, and if it is to save itself from its own aggressive tendencies, the only path open is through the science of yoga. Though the ultimate goal of this science is the realization of the Absolute, in day to day life it is useful and necessary to maintain mental and bodily health. Bodily exercises (asanas), breath control (pranayama) and mind control (dhyana) are all helpful to conquer bodily and mental ills. The role of the mind in the creation of health and ill-health has been well emphasized by Ayurvedic physicians. In praising Dhanvanthiri, the first sloka begins by emphasizing that diseases arise in the body due to problems of the mind like raga (excessive desire). The great influence of the mind over the body, its health and functioning, was well understood by our ancients; hence, throughout our glorious history, control of the mind was given prime importance for achieving health of the body, happiness of the mind and harmony with society and the universe.

The great Patanjali, who gave us the Yoga Sutras, has been praised as the one who gave us yoga for discipline of the mind, medicines for health of the body and grammar for purity of the tongue (language). The close association of health and yoga has always been emphasized in ayurvedic texts. Apart from medicines, surgical practices and mantras, yoga was an accepted method of treatment in ayurveda. Hence it is appropriate that Dr. Krishna Raman has compiled this synthesis of medicine and yoga.

Having studied modern medicine and having had training in yoga under the great master, Sri B.K.S. Iyengar, Dr. Krishna Raman is a fit person to attempt this difficult task and he has done it well. This compendium will be useful to both medical and lay persons. The first section, on Lifestyles. Is most appropriate for modern living with its stresses and straings. Health problems of professionals, sportspersons, artists, different age groups and women are well presented and the section provides interesting and useful information. After explaining in simple terms the structure and functions of various parts of the body, the value of yoga in medical disorders is discussed in lucid terms.

It was a pleasure to go through this book. It will be found useful by persons of all ages and also by modern medical practitioners who may not know all the nuances of yogic practices. It is heartening to know that in this age of hurry and stress and of emphasis on high technology medicine, there are well-established techniques in the science of yoga to restore one’s health and also to contribute to a life of positive health, with happiness and harmony.

Foreword

I am filled with joy in writing this note about the book, A Matter of Health: Integration of Yoga & Western Medicine for Prevention & Cure by my pupil, Dr. Krishna Raman. A book of this kind, on therapeutic yoga, has been long awaited. Dr. Krishna Raman, a physician who is also well trained in the intricacies of yoga, has convincingly made a case for an alternative approach to the treatment of various diseases afflicting human beings today. His work is a definitive presentation of therapeutic yoga for the promotion of holistic health as well as for prevention of diseases. He has not only discussed the value of yoga as such, but also the efficiency of yogic asanas and pranayama as part of a healing art.

While conceding the scope and efficacy of allopathic medicine, the author nevertheless draws our attention to the fact that allopathy has its shortcomings and its side effects are many and debilitating. Though considered good for immediate relief, it often doesn’t go to the root cause of the problem to begin the cure.

Dr. Raman has divided his work into an introduction and four sections. In the Introduction, he explains yoga as described by the father of yoga, Sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. In a nutshell, the author explains the teachings of Patanjali, how yogic discipline stills and quietens the mind to experience calmness and serenity as well as silence in general and how asanas and pranayama help man to succeed in this endeavor. He strongly emphasizes that the mind plays a significant role in maintaining and sustaining sound physical health, clarity of thought and spiritual benevolence, if yoga is practiced regularly as a part of one’s daily activities. At the same time the has dealt very effectively with how yoga prevents the onset of diseases.

In Section I, Dr. Raman discusses the kinds of food that are beneficial to the body and the body’s need for fats, proteins, carbohydrates, fibers, minerals and vitamins and discusses various life styles - housewife, artists, professional executive and athlete - and points out how anyone, of any age group, can use yogic practices to counteract and prevent the illnesses he or she is particularly susceptible to according to his or her vocation, environment, attitude and aptitude.

The chapter on sports is exhaustive. In it the author discusses how yogic asanas can help alleviate the negative repercussions of any sport. I am glad to note that he has devoted a chapter to pregnancy, calling it ‘an amazing wonder of nature’. He explains the immense value of asanas and pranayama for pregnant women, pointing out the ways to avoid complications that can follow pregnancy and how women can have a safe delivery, free of problems and pain.

Section II of the book is on functional anatomy and physiology. Unless we know how our body is fashioned and how it works, we will not be able to understand what can go wrong with it and how best it can be set right.

The body is the most complicated machinery, with a superb capacity for adjustment, possessing a powerful mind of its own. Though it is the machine most abused by man, it tries to adapt to the fanciful thoughts of the mind; but it gives way when it can no longer withstand the onslaught of desires and ambitions. He ends this section explaining how the ethical, physical, physiological, mental and intellectual disciplines of yoga help to maintain all the systems in our body to function with harmony and balance.

In Section III the importance of yogic exercises and preservation of health is emphasized. One can argue that many people who do not exercise at all still live to a ripe old age. Living in not important, but living in a meaningful way with benevolent health is. It must be a dynamic, electrifying life to be worth living. Yoga, which is akin to nature wherein the five elements of the body are kept in a balanced ratio, keeps at bay the degenerating effects of aging and all health.

As a medical professional, Dr. Krishna Raman considers asanas and pranayama the best tools to maintain health in the cellular system. The arithmetic and geometry of yogic postures guarantee that every part of the body used is invigorated with fresh blood. The deliberate and steady holding of the poses, with their rinsing, squeezing and drying actions, is far superior to hasty, jerky workouts. The author describes various asanas - standing, sitting, forward and backward extensions, inversions, twists, balancing - and explains the effect of each on the muscular, organic and glandular systems. He also shows how the techniques of pranayama (science of the breath) can be used as therapy.

In the chapter on props, Dr. Raman demonstrates the use of yoga props that I invented for those patients who are weak or elderly and for those who are unable to practice independently. He demonstrates very clearly the quick results that can be obtained by employing simple equipment.

The last section of the book is a discussion of eighteen common medical disorders that particularly lend themselves to yoga therapy. Their causes and symptosm are listed, their medical management is expounded and treatment by yoga, in conjunction with allopathy or on its own, is recommended. The author has shown how excessive and prolonged medication and/or surgery can sometimes be avoided through the practice of asanas and pranayama.

The book is richly illustrated with the diagrams and photographs.

This is a noteworthy attempt by a physician to use asanas and pranayama for different needs and ailment by using props. The book is the culmination of his research in the field of therapeutic yoga. He has observed and recorded actual changes in his patients after they had practiced yogic asanas as required.

I am proud of Dr. Krishna Raman for his scientific approach, meticulous treatment and presentation of the age old science of yoga in an appealing way for the general public. It has been said that East and West can never meet, but Dr. Raman has shown through his work that East and West can indeed meet where knowledge is concerned.

In my opinion this book will be invaluable to people exploring alternative approaches to health care. It will also be a great asset to yoga students in general and especially valuable to yoga teachers.

If Dr. Krishna Raman’s work is well received, I shall be grateful for having shared in its presentation.

Preface to the Second Edition

I thank my readers who are responsible for my bringing out the third edition of this book. So much of research has been done I the field of exercise and health. Many studies confirm what has already been said and newer ones throw light on other issues. The obsession with staying healthy is more than ever before. At the cost of redundancy, it must be remembered that health is not entirely in our hands as our past karma plays a definitive role. We merely do what is needed from the material plane-God’s grace gives us the fruits.

Yoga has also become an obsession which is not healthy. The trend in India these days is to use yoga for any situation in life. The request comes for all kind of ailments for which yoga has no role at all. Some of the incredulous claims include curing of myopia, jaundice (believe it or not), growth retardation, thyroid disorders and so on. One can easily see banners citing “effective yoga therapy for all aliments”. There is no point in faulting the claimants for this. Those who seek relief from yoga should educate themselves about their ailment before attempting to understand whether yoga can help. In most situations the seeker is ignorant about the working of the ailment and of the role of yoga. I suggest that those who seek relief from yoga first consult their physician to ascertain whether yoga can help or not before embarking on their yoga practice. This will avoid unnecessary disappointments.

When I first wrote this book my perception of the role of yoga as a therapy was different from what it is now. As I have seen clearly the precise place of yoga in relation to clinical ailments, I have no doubt as to when and where it will work. The book has been edited to fall in line with this and I hope it puts my readers in a clear light. The readers are also advised to read my second book Yoga and Medical Science: FAQ which contains in-depth discussion on yoga in relation to medicine (over 450 Q&A). It also contains ultrasound images of several yoga poses that precisely clarify arterial flow patterns.

In the field of medicine learning never ceases as each patient teaches us something. More than anything else, we need to be grateful to them for this. Confidence building is the first step in betterment of health and as physicians we should focus on this. This will improve doctor patient relationship too and prevent unnecessary litigations. A relationship of trust is needed between physician and patient. Ultimately let us pray that all living beings in all planes of existence be happy- Samasta loka sukino bhavantu!

Preface to the First Edition

The human body and mind are gifts of God: the capital given to us without any interest payable. For anything in life to be fulfilled, the body should be healthy and this needs constant looking after. Just as a car needs constant care, the body and mind need the same. This is best done by regular exercise. Awareness of this is certainly better now than many years ago, but exercise oriented persons still form a minority in our vast world. In today’s fast world, with the easy availability of different types of cuisines, both vegetarian and non vegetarian, junk food, alcohol and cigarettes, and the constant bombarding of our consciousness with advertisement of such foods through different media, we succumb, with resultant health problems.

Mental health is a predecessor to physical health. Physical health is possible only through exercise and mental health through regulating our living in every facet of life. Our ancient sages have given us guidelines for mental and physical well being but we rarely follow, them. Health can be achieved only if we have a firm commitment to it which lasts all our lives. It may be that sometimes, with the best of care, we may fall ill, but this illness will not damage our bodies in the way it could if we did not take care. Our duty to our body and mind should be done; the rest is left to the higher power. This is the way to health, a commodity so sorely needed today.

I began practicing yoga at the age of 14. Little did I then realize that yoga would play a major part in my life. Having decided early in my life to join the medical world which brings one close to the inner workings of the human body, I graduated from a conventional western medical school. But all along I realized the need to treat clinical problems as non invasively as possible. To further my own yoga frontier, I studied with the famous Sri B.K.S. Iyengar, the foremost exponent of yoga is the world today. As my Guru, Sri B.K.S Iyengar has infused me, ever since our first meeting in 1979, with an enormous dynamism and positivism in the field of health which has helped me tremendously to be a physician of a different kind, with a different perception of health and disease.

The Uniqueness of “Iyengar Yoga”

The system of yoga taught by Sri B.K.S. Iyengar has popularly come to be known as “Iyengar yoga”. There is a distinct difference between this and other systems, which places his teachings for above all else. This is particularly so when one analyses his methods medically. Medically, when the human body is exercised and the internal organs are used along with the external, certain principles have to be followed in order not to injure the body. In most yoga schools, there is no depth to the teaching of yoga, as can be seen if one happens to be a physician. Secondly, this system can be used in mainstream medicine to solve major medical problems where other systems have failed. I have studied different systems and have found that there is a lack of anatomical guidelines in the execution of asanas and pranayama.

To illustrate this I will give several examples. In standing poses (Trikonasana, for example), if one observes students trained in other systems, there is no arithmetical and geometrical perfection and certain areas are ill affected. Again, in Headstand, there is no guideline in other systems on how to prevent pressure on the brain due to the increase in blood flow velocity; whereas, in “Iyengar yoga”, one learns to adjust the blood flow in such a way as to obtain the correct effect inside. This can be confirmed by sonographic studies. The frontal and the back brain have to be kept parallel in order to ensure proper and optimum blood flow and relaxation of the neurons of the brain. Unless one practices the different systems, it is difficult to understand this. Generally, yoga is done slowly and with a lot of stretching, but there is no strength in the stretch and contraction is totally forgotten. Moreover, I have seen number of patients consulting me with no relief from other systems and when the protocols are followed relief results very soon.

Any exercise has to strengthen, tone up the system and preserve the body as one grows older. To achieve this, the different parameters of the body need to be observed professional, I find that only “Iyengar yoga” achieves this. In this system, the body is made robust both outside and inside. A good example is the practice of backbends which provide vitality to the system. In “Iyengar yoga” one insists on a certain geometric shape of the asana, which alone provides cardio-respiratory health; whereas, in other systems, one can observe incorrect shapes and practitioners suffering ill health later on.

For example, in Urdhva Dhanurasana, medically, only at a particular angle of the dorsal spine does the heart pump efficiently. This is logical as certain angles compress the heart. The correct angle is taught in the Iyengar system. As far as possible, the skin on the front and back of the body have to be kept parallel to each other. The pelvic girdle should not collapse which then results in compression of the pelvic organs. Whether the geometry of asanas is at all necessary is a concept that is not thought of in other schools of yoga. Subtleties of yogic practice are available only in the Iyengar system. The test of practice is when the practitioner suffers pain or disease, or secures no relief, in spite of practicing yoga, and relief results from the moment the correct method is learnt.

I suffered severe backaches even though I practiced yoga and no school of thought gave me relief. For years I suffered. Stretching the spine in a different way, as taught by Sri Iyengar, immediately provided an immense change. This made me realize that there is much more to yoga than generally understood and my interest was provoked. This cannot be appreciated by lay persons who do not know anatomy. In “Iyengar yoga”, instructions are given on how to strengthen tendons, arteries, veins, bones, organs, etc. an obvious example is Sri Iyengar himself. Today, there is no one of his age who can still perform the asanas he did as a child of 14 and one can easily appreciate the vitality in his body the moment he demonstrates his body the moment he demonstrates the asanas. I am sure any medical professional who has observed his demonstration can vouch for this.

In “Iyengar yoga”, the mind is brought to focus on different areas of the body for correct adjustment. In other systems, breathing is taught instead and this is medically harmful. In the practice of asanas, until the lungs can expand perfectly, normal breathing should be observed. This is a vital medical tenet. It is also mentioned in the Yoga Sutras that, unless mastery in an asana in reached, breathing should not be done. This is ignored by all other schools of yoga. In a beginner, the breath is shaky and when asanas are practiced with shaky breathing ill health results. In “Iyengar yoga”, breathing in an asana is taken from the superficial to the subterranean plane to ventilate the cells of the body and this is achieved only if the relevant areas can open up to the breath. This means proper performance of asanas. In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, it is said that the mind is the king of the senses and breath is the king of the mind; calm the breath and the mind is quiet (though reverse is also true). This should be carefully followed. When one medically examines personals trained in other schools, their body parameters lag far behind students trained in the Iyengar system.

The body has to be kept dynamic and yet relaxed. In the Iyengar system, the performance of asanas creates a certain “space” between the spindles of the nerves and skin, resulting in profound neurological relaxation. This happens only if every part of the body is put to use.

I have already discussed about the standing and inverted poses. In forward bends, if the diaphragm is not kept parallel to the floor, the heart is compressed. If the anterior-posterior diameter is altered the thoracic organs are pressurized. This is taught only in the Iyengar system. In twisting poses, the inner and outer spine have to be kept in alignment, else the spine is not used symmetrically. The chest shape should be similar to Tadasana. In balancing poses, the mind should be kept calm, which means the front and back portions of the body have to be kept like the scales of a balance and one should distribute the body weight in such a way that the pose is arithmetically balanced. In symmetrical and asymmetrical poses like Bakasana and Eka pada Bakasana, one has to really locate the centre of gravity for the mind to be relaxed. Balancing poses therefore mean a balanced action of the body and mind in an asana and not a pose full of tension.

Similarly, there are many features of each pose which have to be followed for perfect safety in practice. Then, as Patanjali says, stira sukham asanam (“the posture is pleasant, comfortable and easy”). The aim of yoga is sammatwam yoga uchathe - yoga should bring to the body and mind an even functioning of the physical, mental, emotional and psychological parts of our being. The asanas and pranayama should be practiced to provide a perfect balance between the cells of the body. This is integrated yogic practice.

At Sri Iyengar’s institute I observed objectively, as a clinician might, many serious medical disorders forsaken by western medicine either during or after treatment by its methods, securing great relief with yoga. Moreover, Sri Iyengar’s methods were radically different from those of any other yoga school I had seen. It seemed more like a laboratory. Slowly I understood the need for practicing yoga scientifically, both for healthy people and for patients, and my sojourn in the field of yoga began. Though Sri Iyengar is not a physician, his understanding of the human body is intricate. I owe all my knowledge of the intricacies of yoga and the human body and its relation to medical science to my guru.

As an intern trained by Prof K.V. Thiruvengadam, doyen in the field of internal medicine, my interest in applying this science of yoga to my patients was stimulated. I have used yoga for disorders in medicine I would never have believed treatable by western medicine or, for that matter, treatable at all. I studied and researched Guruji’s methods, and found enormous clinical changes in my patients. Much work remains to be done as yoga has to be introduced into mainstream medicine in both ward and school.

In this book I have tried to explain in as simple terms as possible human anatomy to the extent known today with our sophisticated gadgetry and the science of yoga. I have also explained several important and common medical disorders and their treatment, according to both western medicine and yoga. At the end of this, the reader can understand the tremendous need for inculcating yoga into daily life, and how it can be effectively used, with western medicine or alone as a primary modality of therapy if need be. If in the process of all this, dear reader, the truth of what is said is realized, then you and I have been in true communion.

I express here my gratitude to all those who have helped me with this work.

To Mr. T.S. Santhanam, Chairman, Sundaram Finance, for his kind and generous financial support for the production of the book.

To Prof. K.V. Thiruvengadam who taught me all I know in western medicine and particularly the right approach to analyzing a health problem, and the only person who taught me to enjoy the deeper realms of medicine, making it a joy.

To Dr. S. Suresh and his wife Dr. Indirani of Mediscan Systems, Madras, India, and their team, for patiently helping me to study many vascular flow patterns and organ adjustments in different asanas; for his patience in studying echo and ultrasound changes in odd positions never used in medicine, as in head stand, twisting poses, etc!

To Ms. Deepika Rajagopal for her kind willingness to pose for the photographs in the section on pregnancy.

To Mr. S.R. Balachander for typing my manuscript.

To Mr. Sridhar and Mr. Chella for patiently photographing my poses.

To Mr. Chelliah, for providing accurately designed props for use. Mr. Chelliah designed my guru’s props to the right size, often without written measurements.

To Dr. C.R. Sundaram for allowing access to the yoga sutras from the library in Sanskrit College.

To Dr. Pramila Gurumurty for helping me to access books on music.

To my parents, who set an example of how a person should live and shape oneself. To my sister, from whom I learnt not to be fanatical on any subject. To my brother-in-law, in interacting with whom I learnt to have a rational approach to metaphysical science.

To my wife who painstakingly drew the anatomical diagrams and patiently bore my constant impatience to finish the work in a very short period and helped me at every stage of the book.

To everyone who is devoted to yoga.

Back of the Book

Dr. Krishna Raman, MBBS FCCP, Chennai, India, combines Western medicine and yoga to treat both common and complicated ailments and has had remarkable success for the last twenty years.

Dr. Raman’s work in this field has been inspired by the doyen of yoga, Mr. B.K.S. Iyengar. Dr. Raman has been practicing yoga since he was 14. Under Mr. Iyengar’s tutelage he learnt about the immense clinical potential of yoga.

With an educational background in medicine from Madras Medical College, Dr. Raman decided to combine the two sciences of medicine and yoga, to treat his patients with excellent, even amazing, results. He has achieved unprecedented success in curative and preventive health care. This book details his philosophies, experiences and achievements in the fusion of an ancient science with a modern one, and demonstrates how yoga combined with Western medicine can provide a holistic approach to a cost-effective health care system where the preventive aspects of health care are afforded the importance they deserve.

Packed with a wealth of information, this book includes:

Numerous photographs and over 200 diagrams of the human body.
Basic concepts of yoga in relation to Western medicine.
Rational explanations of the concepts of diet and choice of yoga as the best method of exercise.
Management of various lifestyles and their inherent health problems - the executives, the geriatrics, artists, sportspersons, doctors, homemakers - using Patanjali’s sutras, Western medicine, asanas and pranayama.
Medical explanations of the mechanisms of asanas and pranayama by a physician…as never before.
Understanding the vast clinical potential of yoga as a non-invasive tool and its use in preventive health, making health care highly cost-effective.
The clinical benefits of utilizing yoga as a tool for health care.
Judicious solutions to a wide variety of common and important medical disorders using Western medicine and yoga - two dimensional health care.

Contents

Introduction xi
Foreword xii
Preface to Second Edition xiv
Understanding Yoga 1
Section I: Lifestyles 13
Health and Food 15
The Growing Years, the Aged and Yoga 38
Yoga in Professional Life 55
Yoga and Sports 72
The Artist and Yoga 115
Women and Yoga 128
Pregnant Women and Yoga 146
Section II : Functional Anatomy and Physiology 181
Cells and Tissues 183
The Skin 192
The Bony Skeleton 194
Joints 201
Muscles 206
The Cardiovascular System 215
The Haematological System 227
The Respiratory System 231
The Digestive System 236
The Renal System 244
The Endocrine System 247
The Nervous System 251
The Special Senses 262
The Reproductive Systems 267
Yoga as a Means of Preserving the Body 272
Section III : Exercise, Asanas, Pranayama and Props 281
The Importance of Exercise 283
Asanas 294
Pranayama 326
Props 332
Section IV : Medical Disorders and their Management 341
Yoga as Medicine 343
Cardiovascular Disorders 350
Pulmonary Diseases 369
Gastroenterologic Diseases 377
Metabolic Diseases 382
Neurological Diseases 390
Gynaecological Diseases 398
ENT Diseases 410
Orthopaedic Diseases 417
Need for Extended Work with Therapeutic Yoga 467
Appendix 470
Glossary 472
List of Illustrations 476
Index 483
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