Wednesday October 17, 2018

Science behind why monks and sanyasis have a shaved head

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BY ANIL K. RAJVANSHI

Baldness gives unhappiness to a person. People feel it as a sign of getting old and the person feels that because of his baldness his looks suffer. People will do anything and go to any length to get a good crop of hair on their head. Worldwide hair loss treatment industry is worth $ 3.5 billion/year.

However, new scientific evidence suggests that infrared (IR) radiation in solar energy is transmitted through bald head and may help in repair of neurons, their generation, and stop or reduce the ravaging affects of Parkinson’s disease.

In all ancient civilizations whether Greek, Egyptian, Indian etc. and in various religions, baldness or shaven head was identified with philosophers, monks and priests. Some say that it was done to differentiate such people from common folks. Thus a person with shaven head wearing an ochre robe is normally identified as a Buddhist monk or a Sanyasi.

The  ancients understood the power of solar energy on the bald head and hence the practice developed. Thus it is possible that our ancient tradition of invoking Gayatri Mantra and practicing Surya Namaskar could be traced to the understanding of beneficial effects of solar energy radiation on human body.

Bald human skull allows 10% of incident IR radiation to pass through it. IR radiation which has wavelength of 750-1500 nanometers is not visible to the naked eye and is the source of heat. On the other hand visible radiation has wavelengths in the range of 450- 750 nanometers.

Around 50% of solar radiation falling on earth is in the IR range. Nature uses this radiation very effectively since it helps in producing wind, evaporating sea water to form clouds and produce rain and to help the neurons function effectively in brain.

How the IR radiation helps in neuron repair and regeneration is still not fully understood. Some scientists say that IR, since it is mostly heat, helps in increasing the brains temperature and hence the activity of neurons while others say that the mitochondria, the engine which provides energy to cells gets repaired and energized by it leading to neuron repair and generation. Nevertheless the beneficial effect of IR on brain is evident and has been shown in human and animal trials.

Infrared light therapy nowadays is also being used and promoted as a powerful and noninvasive treatment for patients suffering strokes, head injuries and as an eye treatment.

The penetration of IR radiation into human brains is quite shallow and attenuates within 2-3 cms of entering the brain tissue but the blood flow in the brain allows the regenerated and repaired brain cells to be transported to different parts of brains.

Why are neurons affected by IR radiation? A possible explanation could be that during their firing they produce a feeble radiation in the IR range and by principle of equivalence they react positively to it.

So bald people, rejoice that nature and especially solar energy will help you in improving your brain and provide happiness since a supple and powerful brain is necessary for creating happiness. The main thing is to sit in the sun for 10-15 minutes everyday. Not only will your brain become better but you will also get much needed vitamin D.

(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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New Study Shows Link Between Meditation And Greater Focus

Supplementation, a healthy diet, and daily exercise are key, with recent studies showing that aerobic exercise also increases brain size.

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Pranayamic breathing is just one way to improve brain health.

Pranayamic breathing – an important part of yoga and meditation – has a unique ability to strengthen our focus and a new study by Trinity College Dublin has unlocked its secret. The researchers note that pranayamic breathing affects the levels of a natural chemical in the brain called noradrenaline. The latter is released when we are challenged, curious, focused, or emotionally excited. When present at the right levels, noradrenaline helps the brain grow new connections and helps us concentrate better on important tasks.

The old masters were on the right track

The researchers noted: “Practitioners of yoga have claimed for some 2,500 years, that respiration influences the mind. We looked for a neurophysiological link that could help explain these claims.” The researchers did so by measuring breathing, reaction time, and brain activity in a small area in the brainstem called the locus coeruleus, where noradrenaline is made. Noradrenaline is affected by stress; when we are worried or anxious we produce too much, and cannot concentrate. When we feel lazy, on the other hand, we produce too little and once again, focus is lost. One way to boost levels is through yoga; another method which can complement the latter is the consumption of medical grade focus supplements, which contain compounds such as octopamine (which has a similar effect to noradrenaline).

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Conversely, those with lower mindfulness ratings had greater activation of this part of the brain and also felt more pain. Pixabay

Pranayamic breathing aces the right balance

In the above study, researchers noted that brain activity in the part of the brain where noradrenaline is produced raises slightly when we inhale and drops slightly as we exhale. Thus, balance is achieved and we can focus on what we have set out to do. Pranayama not only boosts concentration but also produces “changes in arousal, attention, and emotional control that can be of great benefit to the meditator.”

What is Pranayamic breathing?

Pranayamic breathing involves controlling and extending breath, with a view to manipulating your vital energy, battling stress, and improving your mood. It is often used in meditation and yoga and interestingly, many yoga experts rank pranayama as even more important than asanas (the postures performed in a yoga session). In yogic tradition, breath is said to carry a person’s life force. Interestingly, scientific studies back this assertion to the extent that pranayamic breathing is able to boost brain function and change the actual structure of the brain. In recent studies, pranayamic breathing has been found to lower or stabilize blood pressure, lower stress, and reduce anxiety and depression.

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In order to comprehend better the Indian seers constructed the special “BOAT” – named Yoga/Meditation.

Implications of the study for aging

The researchers are excited that their findings could signal a way to prevent brain aging. They stated that if brains typically lose mass as we age, practices such as pranayamic breathing greatly reduce the rate of brain shrinkage, thus potentially helping keep dementia and related diseases at bay. Because keeping noradrenaline levels at an optimal level can help the brain grow new connections, meditation is an ideal activity to pursue.

Pranayamic breathing is just one way to improve brain health. Supplementation, a healthy diet, and daily exercise are key, with recent studies showing that aerobic exercise also increases brain size. To make the most of the effect of breathing on focus, consider joining a yoga class or learning the essence of pranayamic breathing online or through an app like Prana Breath or Universal Breathing.