Monday May 28, 2018

Cellular basis of Yogic Asanas: How stretching of cells through Yoga helps your body




Yogic exercises are normally done to tone the body and the nervous system. Yogic exercises come under Hath Yoga system, one of the eight limbs of “Ashtang Yoga” as enunciated by the Yoga sutras of Patanjali. Hath Yogis believe that the body toning is a result of nerve stretching. This belief may have scientific basis.

Recently scientists have discovered that cells in human body change depending on how they are stretched. They have shown that if you pull a stem cell in one way it starts developing into a brain cell. Moreover, changing the mechanical stress makes the cancer cells behave like normal cells, by far the most far reaching consequence of stretching of cells.

The Yogic exercises of stretching the nerves and toning the nervous system affect the cells mechanically and, therefore, affect the body in a very positive way at the cellular level.

Till now the biological and medical community believed that, in order to know the behavior of a cell, one needed to identify the genes, proteins and other chemical processes and pathways. The biological community considers chemical processes to be of paramount importance.

However in nature, all the forces are taken into account for a system’s evolution and mechanical stress at cellular level is as important and prevalent as the chemical process.

Scientists have also discovered that though the cells in human body are subjected to mechanical stress and strain in every part of body, their native environment exerts the maximum effect on their growth and development.

For example, a cell stressed in a certain way will not convert into a nerve cell if it’s near a bone. The chances of it becoming a bone cell are higher because of the physical and chemical environment of the existing bone structure.

This could be the basis of Yogic asanas which in their innumerable forms, affect and tone the nervous system. Some like Pranayama, Nauli (gut wrenching), Sheersh Asana (head stand) and focusing the eyes on the center of forehead in meditation, affect the nervous system and can help in rejuvenating the body. Production of healthy cells is the most important aspect of rejuvenation of body.

For example, in the dhyana asana of focusing the eyes on the center of forehead, the optic nerve gets stretched by about 1-1.5 mm. This stretching may help stimulate the pituitary gland since the optic nerve passes very close to it before reaching the visual cortex at the back of the brain. The pituitary gland is the master gland of the body and its secretions help in maintaining the harmony of other endocrine glands. Moreover, it secretes the oxytocin hormone (also called happiness hormone) and almost all the sexual chemicals.

Besides the Yogic exercises, general exercise regime of running, walking or aerobic exercises may also help in the cell rejuvenation. The “high” that people experience with regular exercise, is not only because of the secretion of chemicals by the brain but also because of the cell stretching.

Similarly, deep muscle massage may also help in the stretching of cells. But it should be done properly otherwise cells may convert into other harmful cells. For example scientists have also found that prior to formation of invasive tumors, the cellular matrix surrounding the regular cells becomes stiffer. This stiffening could be the result of physical or emotional stress.

Thus the change in “microenvironment” of cells with stress may be conducive to cancer formation. Scientists believe that one of the ways of curing cancer could be physical manipulation of this “microenvironment”.

Yogic asanas may help in this process. This could also be the reason why the Yoga practitioners have always suggested that some of the difficult Yogic asanas affecting the deep nervous system should be done under the supervision of experienced Yoga teachers, so that the cells are stretched in proper manner.

The author is the Director and Hon. Secretary Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI). He could be reached at  (

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Manage Expenses: Five Ways to Never Go Broke Again

Are you someone that likes living life on the edge, from salary to salary, buying something as and when you set eyes on it, without worrying about your savings, and a "dekha jayega" attitude? That may seem cool -- but it's also a short cut to financial disaster. Walnut App CEO and Co-Founder Patanjali Somayaji lists five ways to ensure you don't go broke. Ever.

Set limits for your spend categories. Make a plan and set goals for yourself.
representational image, pixabay

Are you someone that likes living life on the edge, from salary to salary, buying something as and when you set eyes on it, without worrying about your savings, and a “dekha jayega” attitude? That may seem cool — but it’s also a short cut to financial disaster.

Walnut App CEO and Co-Founder Patanjali Somayaji lists five ways to ensure you don’t go broke. Ever.

Download a money management app to track your expenses

If you have never been the type to track your expenses, now is a good time to start. You can download an app that tracks your spends and set a budget, keep a watch on your upcoming credit card and utility bill payments, as well as see how much you owe or have to get from others. This is the first step to getting your finances streamlined.

Make a plan and set goals for yourself

Set short-term (a few months ahead) and long-term (a year and beyond) goals. It could be anything from taking up a new hobby like learning the guitar, to buying a new phone/laptop/camera, getting married, buying a new house or being debt-free by a certain date, and so on. Based on the plan, break it down into quarterly and monthly goals so you know how much to save, how much is safe to spend and so on. Having a plan will give you an overview and much better control of your finances.

Set up an emergency fund
representational image, pixabay

Set up an emergency fund

Once you’re tracking your spends and have set goals, you know how much money you need to allocate to each of them. You would also get an estimate of your spending pattern and expenses for each month. Based on this, have an emergency fund in place that will take care of at least 6-8 months’ worth of living expenses so that in case of a mishap or a loss of job, you don’t go broke, and have something to fall back on. You can set it up so that a certain percentage of your salary/income each month is automatically transferred to this fund. It could be in a different bank account, a fixed deposit, or even a liquid fund — and most importantly, it should be accessible easily and quickly when needed urgently.

Set limits for your spend categories

Take a look at your spends in greater detail to understand where the money goes each month. Assign limits to each of these categories for the month and see how you’re doing at the end of the month. This will give you an idea of your lifestyle and if you’re spending more than you earn, as well as where you can cut down on unnecessary spends.

Stay debt-free

Credit cards can be extremely useful — for regular spends as well as during emergencies, and over time, with a good payment history, can boost your credit score too. However, if you’re the type of person who cannot pay off credit card bills in full each month or who just pays the minimum amount due, stick to using your debit card or cash, or even a Line of Credit, which has a lower interest rate. Revolving credit on a credit card can be dangerous for your finances, and it can take you several years to repay the entire outstanding amount.

Also Read: Day or Night – Which is the Right Time to Study?

There will always be changes in situations, your current needs and requirements as well as your cash flow, so every 3-6 months, you should re-look at your plan and goals, and modify as needed to stay on top of your finances. (IANS)