Monday July 16, 2018

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

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BY ANIL K. RAJVANSHI

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  (anilrajvanshi@gmail.com)

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Cancer Patients Turn Incredible Photographers

Camera develops confidence in cancer patients

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Cancer Patients Turns Incredible Photographers
Cancer Patients Turns Incredible Photographers. Pixabay

Student photographer and one of a cancer patients Madeline Morales takes her camera everywhere she goes. She is always looking for something interesting to shoot.

“I try to look at things with a lot of light; a lot of what draws me is positivity – something that means love or happiness,” said Morales.

At 15 years of age, she has lived through experiences most teens have not had to deal with. She has faced cancer, chemotherapy and radiation, but she stays optimistic and tries to find beauty through her camera lens. Today, she will see something most people will never see in their lifetime.

“It makes me feel excited, a little bit nervous,” said Morales, whose photos were on display at a gallery show in Los Angeles.

“I think with photography and having that faith in God has really helped me a lot to staying positive and being motivated to want to keep fighting this disease,” she said.

Cancer patient
Breast Cancer patient

 

Morales was one of 23 students who shared their experiences with cancer through photos at the Pablove Foundation’s gallery show of its advanced photography class. The foundation aims to improve the lives of children living with the disease through its Shutterbugs photography program. The Pablove Foundation also provides money for underfunded pediatric cancer research. Proceeds from the students’ prints will go toward pediatric cancer research grants.

The Pablove Shutterbugs program offers photography classes in eight cities across the United States.

“Being in these classes with other people that completely understand their experience and can be a community with them has been really impactful and has really made them feel a lot more comfortable in what they’ve been through and where they’re going with it,” said Ashley Blakeney, program manager of Pablove Shutterbugs.

She said the photography classes give students living with cancer a sense of community at a time when they often feel isolated in their experience. Photography also helps build confidence, said Blakeney.

“Pavlove Shutterbugs serve as a distraction for these students while they’re going through their treatment because it literally is an out of hospital experience first and foremost,” she said, adding, “Because they are able to build this skill set and to be the really great photographers that they are. They’re incredible. It gives them something to brag about in a sense that they can now say “I am an artist. I am a photographer. I have this voice, and I have this story to tell” and they’re able to do that through their images.”
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Another student photographer featured in the gallery show is Bayu Lukman.

Photographer developing confidence in cancer patients
Photographer developing confidence in cancer patients

 

“Most of my photos’ themes focused on hope,” said Lukman

Lukman was diagnosed with cancer after graduating from elementary school. He described the devastating emotional side of living through cancer and its treatments of chemotherapy and radiation.

“You kind of get really depressed and you don’t want to live anymore.” Lukman continued, “You need to stay optimistic and push yourself through.”

With photography, many young students see the world through the lens of optimism, where their identity is not dictated by cancer.

“There’s more to us than just having cancer, that we have more of a story to tell besides cancer. We want people to see what we see even if it’s through the lens,” said Morales.

Also read:Toothpaste ingredient promote colon cancer

“Pablove helped me understand more about the struggles of cancer and has given me a small chance to actually assist in the world a bit with photography, I’d say, to express my story and allow it to hopefully to reach other kids so they understand how to deal with it hopefully,” said Lukman. (VOA)