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Why the Westerners are attracted to Hinduism? Find Out!

Hinduism is practised widely in countries like Fiji, United Kingdom, Canada, Nepal, the United States, and other countries as well

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Representational Image. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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Hinduism is considered to be the oldest faith to have ever existed on this Earth, and it draws the curiosity of people worldwide because of its rich culture, customs and intellectual fulfilment that this religion has to offer. It cannot be termed as a religion, but can be best defined as a way of life.

Hinduism is analogized as a tree- where the roots are symbolic of the Vedas and Upanishads, where the trunk has thickened with ‘tapasya’ or meditations of sages and gurus, its branches are the traditions of Hinduism and the fruits are the sects of the faith. This tree is unique in itself but bears a very sweet fruit, mentioned Subhamoy Das, a Hinduism expert on hinduism.about.com.

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Hinduism has so much to teach – both to Hindus and Non-Hindus. Hinduism is practised widely in countries like Fiji, United Kingdom, Canada, Nepal, the United States, etc. It has given the world spiritual assets like Yoga and ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness).

The U.S. Army prac
The U.S. Army practising yoga with Indian soldiers. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hinduism, or Sanatan Dharma as it is called, also invites acceptance of people from all walks of life. It teaches one about Moksha and Mukti, Hindu terms for liberating or transcending the soul from worldly material possessions.

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Globalisation also plays an important role in the increasing interest of the West in Hinduism. Cross-cultural interactions and Indian diaspora in the West has resulted in their attraction to Hindu culture.

With vegetarianism becoming a ‘trend’ in the West, the fact that Hinduism preaches ‘ahimsa’ and discourages the consumption of meat is another reason why it is grabbing the attention of Westerners.

Krishna temple in the United States. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Krishna temple in the United States. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hinduism has been repeatedly discussed in European literature since time immemorial. It is lesser known that literature’s finest piece ‘The Wasteland’ by TS Eliot has undertones of Hinduism. The poem ends with ‘shaantih, shaantih, shaantih..’ Besides this, the Romantic Age has been highly influenced by Bhagavad Gita. Poets like William Wordsworth, John Keats and many others have shown the impact of Bhagavad Gita and Shaivism in their poetry.

As a result, many Sanskrit words like dharma, moksha and nirvana have been added to English dictionaries. Hinduism has served the purpose of reformation and liberation of the Western mind, and shall continue to do so.

– prepared by Chetna Karnani, at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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Yoga Face-toning May Compete With Fillers, Face-lifts

"The jury is still out on whether or not facial yoga is effective in reversing the signs of aging," he said in an email.

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Yoga face toning is an effective way of reducing the signs of ageing. VOA
  • Yoga face toning may take over botox and face lifting procedures.
  • 27 participants noted changes in their faces after weeks of this experiment.
  • It is still a matter of discussion if this method can reverse ageing or not.

In his toolbox of Botox, fillers and plastic surgery, cosmetic dermatologist Dr Murad Alam has added a new, low-cost, noninvasive anti-ageing treatment: facial yoga.

Dermatologists measured improvements in the appearance of the faces of a small group of middle-aged women after they did half an hour of daily face-toning exercises for eight weeks, followed by alternate-day exercises for another 12 weeks.

Facial exercises are healthier than surgeries. Pixabay
Facial exercises are healthier than surgeries. Pixabay

The results surprised lead author Alam, vice chair and professor of dermatology at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

“In fact, the results were stronger than I expected,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s really a win-win for patients.”

Participants included 27 women between 40 and 65, though only 16 completed the full course. It began with two 90-minute muscle-resistant facial exercise-training sessions led by co-author Gary Sikorski of Happy Face Yoga in Providence, Rhode Island.

Participants learned to perform cheek pushups and eye-bag removers, among other exercises. Then they practised at home.

Improvements noted

Dermatologists looking at unmarked before-and-after photos saw improvements in upper cheek and lower cheek fullness, and they estimated the average age of women who stuck with the program as significantly younger at the end than at the start.

Face yoga is a healthier substitute to surgical procedures. Pixabay
Face yoga is a healthier substitute for surgical procedures. Pixabay

The average estimated age dropped almost three years, from nearly 51 years to 48 years.

Participants also rated themselves as more satisfied with the appearance of their faces at the study’s end, Alam and colleagues reported in JAMA Dermatology.

“Now there is some evidence that facial exercises may improve facial appearance and reduce some visible signs of ageing,” Alam said. “Assuming the findings are confirmed in a larger study, individuals now have a low-cost, non-toxic way of looking younger or augmenting other cosmetic or anti-ageing treatments they may be seeking.”

The exercises enlarge and strengthen facial muscles to firm and tone the face, giving it a younger appearance, he said.

Happy Face sells instructional worksheets — promising smoother skin, firmed cheeks and raised eyelids — for $19.95. DVDs cost $24.95.

Some skepticism

But not all dermatologists are rushing to promote the videos or the exercises.

Dr John Chi, a plastic surgeon and professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, said the study raises more questions than it answers.

“The jury is still out on whether or not facial yoga is effective in reversing the signs of ageing,” he said in an email.

Chi, who was not involved with the study, said he would recommend facial yoga to patients who found it relaxing and enjoyable but not for the purpose of facial rejuvenation.

“While the premise of facial exercises to improve the facial appearance or reverse signs of ageing is an appealing one, there is little evidence to suggest that there is any benefit in this regard,” he said.

Chi said facial yoga had not been rigorously examined in peer-reviewed scientific studies. Asked whether procedures such as face-lifts, Botox and fillers had been rigorously examined in peer-reviewed studies, he replied: “Great question. Attempts to do so have been made in the scientific literature with variable levels of scientific rigour.”

Alam agrees that his study raises additional research questions, such as whether the exercises would work for men and how much time people need to commit to doing the exercises for them to be optimally effective. He would like to see a larger study. VOA