Insomnia

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What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or to stay sleeping.

Insomnia is defined as difficulty with the initiation, maintenance, duration, or quality of sleep that results in the impairment of daytime functioning, despite adequate opportunity and circumstances for sleep. (1, 2)

Who is affected by Insomnia?

A 1979 study showed that insomnia affects nearly everyone occasionally. The researchers found that only 5% of respondents claimed to never suffer sleep-related difficulties.

More recent studies have shown that approximately 50% of people suffer from this condition regularly.

In 2000, the Journal of Sleep Research published a study of nearly 13,000 people in France. (3) The results were as follows:

  • 73% indicated the presence of a nocturnal sleep problem during the preceding month
  • 29% indicated a sleep problem at least three nights per week
  • 57% complained of difficulties initiating sleep
  • 21% complained of difficulties initiating sleep at least three times a week for the previous month
  • 53% complained of night awakenings
  • 16% complained of night awakenings at least three times a week for the previous month
  • 41% complained of a nonrestorative sleep
  • 11% complained of a nonrestorative sleep at least three times a week for the past month

 The same study found that the “rate [for insomnia] was also 63% higher in women than in men”. (3)

Consequences of Insomnia

Insomnia is a debilitating disorder that substantially reduces the quality of life of its sufferers. Insomnia  takes its toll on virtually all dimensions of a person’s life, including physical daytime functioning, role limitations, bodily pain, general health perceptions, vitality, social functioning and mental health.(4)

One study found that severe insomnia patients suffered more pain, emotional and mental health effects than patients with congestive heart failure. Additionally, insomnia patients also reported more physical problems than patients with depression. (4)

Insomniacs are also 2.5 to 4.5 times more likely to have an accident than those that sleep well. In a study of 8,625 respondents in France, Léger et al. reported that 8% of insomniacs and 1% of non-insomniacs had an industrial accident in the past 12 months. (5)

Insomniacs suffer serious consequences at work and at school, including higher rates of absenteeism, decreased concentration, and difficulty performing duties.

Additionally, the total cost of health care is 60% higher for insomniacs than for non-insomniacs. (4)

What Causes Insomnia?

In most cases, mental stress is the primary cause. Patients normally confirm that while trying to sleep, the brain constantly chatters on about an endless stream of things to do, financial problems and the like. Insomnia upsets the natural balance between body, mind and spirit. During the day, the body and mind are in “control”. But at night, while the body and mind lay in bed, it is the spirit’s turn to take over. Unless the patient is unable to sleep, in which case the body and mind refuse to surrender. This can lead to depression and other serious problems.

Insomnia is caused by the accumulation of “energetic blockage”. On a daily basis, stress and toxins accumulate in your bodymind, so it is wise to make a reasonable effort to dump these on a daily basis too, so as to inch your way toward wellness every day, rather than inching your way toward illness.

Obviously it is wise to avoid any stress and toxins that you reasonably can. Now for the stress and toxins that are inevitable:

The easiest way to dump stress on a daily basis is to get a yoga ball and lie back on it for a minute or so. The best way to detoxify on a daily basis is using a sauna.

As for exercise, the most important thing to remember is that you must get wiggly to eliminate insomnia. Yoga is among the best options for getting wiggly, but there are millions of “yogis” that fail to get wiggly because they are more focused on getting flexible. These people can bend their bodies into some beautiful (and even weird) positions, but they may still suffer from conditions like migraines and insomnia because they have missed the essence of yoga, which is wellness itself. And wellness requires wiggliness.

My Key Discovery: Wiggliness is Wellness!

By experimenting on more than a thousand volunteers I discovered that those suffering with migraines and insomnia (and other serious health conditions) were less wiggly than healthier volunteers. I began to associate wiggliness with wellness. I noticed that wiggliness was not directly associated with any other physical attribute such as flexibility, body constitution/shape or overall fitness level. I began to focus more and more on wiggliness. Babies are the wiggliest humans and tend to be healthy. The elderly are the least wiggly and tend to suffer many chronic health conditions. There are other factors at play besides wiggliness, of course, but I was nonetheless interested to find a method for restoring wiggliness. I eventually developed a method that works, and the results have been called “miraculous” by those that experienced immediate and lasting relief from my system, when countless other systems had previously failed.

My Protocol for Immediate and Lasting Insomnia Relief

After more than two decades of experimentation, I succeeded in developing a highly effective, non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical treatment protocol for insomnia.

The hallmark of my system is a unique method of restoring the normal energy flow (wiggliness!) throughout the entire body, such that the body is able to “heal itself” quickly and efficiently. This self-healing includes proper oxygenation and detoxification, which are apparently hindered by a lack of what I call “wiggliness”.

In most cases, my insomnia-healing method can eliminate the main insomnia-causing energy blockage within thirty minutes. By the end of the first session (which typically lasts 1.5 – 2 hours), the energy flow has been restored to the extent that approximately 80% of insomnia sufferers will not have a recurrence for an extended period, generally 6 months – 1 year, even without a follow-up treatment. In the remaining 20% of subjects where insomnia does continue, it is generally more than 50% less frequent and less severe. In these cases, a follow-up treatment may further improve the condition.

My insomnia-healing method is designed to provide immediate relief from the symptoms of insomnia, which can be quite debilitating and demoralizing. It is therefore necessary to alleviate the condition for as long as possible, to afford the patient time and “space” to implement the remainder of my anti-insomnia protocol. My insomnia-healing treatment provides the necessary freedom from the imprisonment of insomnia and then focuses on making the result permanent through lifestyle training.

My insomnia-healing method involves a sequence of 40 techniques of gentle body manipulation, each of which is set to a carefully-selected piece of music that contains a specific “pulse”. The movements must perfectly correspond with the pulse of the music. The majority of the techniques are quite simple. This allows my system to be taught to many people with different backgrounds. A chiropractor, a doctor or an experienced massage therapist will be able to master all 40 techniques with as little as three days of practice. Compassionate but less-experienced care-givers will still be able to perform 35 of those techniques.

The goal of my system is to allow energy to pass through the body “unobstructed” (to the greatest extent possible during a single session). If a serious blockage can be reduced by 80% during the session, the insomnia condition will be halted. If the person is seriously sleep deprived, she or he may fall asleep even during the treatment, which is impressive considering that the treatment involves loud music and constant flipping, twisting, stretching and rotation of limbs. No one other than insomniacs are able to sleep during this treatment. Nearly all people are able to sleep immediately after the treatment, but there is typically no lethargy or “sleepiness”. The person is both relaxed and energized. She or he may decide to sleep or may return to work, as desired. The patient will likely enjoy a considerable period of time free of further sleep disturbance. This period is usually a minimum of several months but can be extended indefinitely with a very simple daily exercise that takes just 1-2 minutes to maintain the benefits of the treatment over the long term.

In addition to better sleep, the patient will most likely experience a multitude of other benefits. If she previously had suffered from headaches, migraines, anxiety, or depression, these conditions will also greatly improve.

The remainder of my protocol (besides its hallmark treatment described above) relates to living in harmony with nature. I developed The Lotus Lifestyle to provide the 8 simple steps for avoiding migraines and pretty well every other serious health problem:

  1. Breathe clean air, softly and deeply.
  2. Get adequate sunlight.
  3. Drink clean, living water.
  4. Eat plants to alkalize.
  5. Get wiggly with my migraine-healing treatment, or with fluid exercise such as tai chi.
  6. Detoxify with saunas, massage or fasting.
  7. Meditate or pray.
  8. Rest and dream. Here, I am not saying that the solution for insomnia is to sleep. That would be too obvious. Instead, I am suggesting a new way of looking at “those nighttime hours”. Shift your focus from sleep to dream, since the dream is more valuable than the sleep, and you may be able to dream while you are still awake.

The Lotus Lifestyle is designed for everyone, not just sufferers of insomnia. It provides the guidelines for obtaining the correct nutrients and avoiding and eliminating harmful toxins. It is possible to follow The Lotus Lifestyle without spending a penny. I frequently teach this method in schools and when I am invited as a guest speaker. At my wellness center The Lotus Garden, visitors “learn by doing”… that is to say, they live all eight components of The Lotus Lifestyle, so they can immediately feel the dramatic improvement in their overall wellness. Daytime visitors can get an immediate boost in their energy and a dramatic reduction in pain and they can get a taste of delicious, healthy food. Guests that stay a longer period can fully detox and fully renew themselves, while breathing clean air and sampling infinite varieties of healthy meals.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with your questions or comments, or to book a visit to the Lotus Garden.

References

1. World Health Organization, Guidelines for the management of conditions specifically related to stress. Geneva: WHO, 2013

2. Chronic Insomnia, Michael H. Silber, M.B., Ch.B., New England Journal of Medicine 2005; 353:803-810 August 25, 2005 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMcp043762

3. Prevalence of insomnia in a survey of 12778 adults in France, Journal of Sleep Research, Volume 9, Issue 1, pages 35–42, March 2000 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2869.2000.00178.x/full

4. Insomnia: Definition, Prevalence, Etiology, and Consequences, Thomas Roth, Journal of Clinical Sleep Med. 2007 August 15; 3(5 Suppl): S7–S10. PMCID: PMC1978319,

5. Medical and socio-professional impact of insomnia. Sleep. Leger D, et al. 2002;25:625–9. [PubMed]

Updated: Help for Migraines and Headaches

Lotus Garden

Nearly everyone experiences at least an occasional headache, while around 15% of people suffer its most painful and debilitating form, the migraine. My protocol addresses the underlying cause of these conditions, which produces long-lasting results while other practitioners rely on techniques that at best mask the symptoms and sometimes contribute to a progressive worsening of the disease.

Jump to…

A headache is like an alarm that begs for a specific action. The alarm should persist, at least intermittently, until the original cause for the alarm has been solved. Failing to address the real cause of these conditions, the noise continues. Lacking a viable method of achieving true peace, some simply ignore the noise, while others  hide from it with prescription or illicit drugs.

The American Migraine Foundation states that “there is no cure for migraines” and that “Current Migraine Treatments are Inadequate”. I agree with them regarding the current popular treatments, but I expect they may change their opinion once they learn about the system that I have created.

A Description of Migraines

From the New England Journal of Medicine: There are two main types of migraine. Both types of migraine typically affect patients for the major part of their lives, at considerable socioeconomic and personal expense. (1)

The first, migraine without aura (previously called common migraine), is characterized by headache attacks lasting 4 to 72 hours. The headache is usually severe, unilateral, pulsating, aggravated by physical activity, and accompanied by nausea, vomiting, photophobia (hypersensitivity to light), and phonophobia (hypersensitivity to sound). (1)

In the second type, migraine with aura (previously called classic migraine), the attacks are initiated by neurologic symptoms called aura (visual, sensory, speech, or motor symptoms). Otherwise, the attacks are the same as those in migraine without aura. (1)

Migraine Statistics

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, six percent of the population have migraine without aura during a one-year period, and 9 percent have it at some time in their lives. The corresponding figures for migraine with aura are 4 percent and 6 percent. The male:female ratio for both types of migraine is approximately 1:3. (1)

The World Health Organization lists Migraines as one of the 20 most disabling medical illnesses in its Global Burden of Disease Study (updated in 2004), because the average migraine sufferer loses 1.3% of their years due to disability (YLD). 1.3% may sound like a small number, but it translates to 114 hours per year or 8,550 excruciating hours or nearly one full year of intense pain over a 75-year lifespan. The WHO also states that in terms of its disabling effect, migraines compare with dementia, quadriplegia and active psychosis.

The Migraine Trust, a charitable health and medical research center for migraines estimates that there are an estimated 190,000 migraine attacks every day in the United Kingdom alone.

Barriers to effective care

(From the World Health Organization)

Lack of knowledge among health-care providers is the principal clinical barrier. Worldwide, on average only four hours of undergraduate medical education are dedicated to instruction on headache disorders. The minority of individuals with headache disorders worldwide are professionally diagnosed; 40% for those with migraine and TTH, while for MOH it is only 10%.

Poor awareness extends to the general public. Headache disorders are not perceived by the public as serious since they are mostly episodic, do not cause death, and are not contagious. The low consultation rates in developed countries may indicate that many sufferers are unaware that effective treatments exist. 50% of people with headache are estimated to be self-treating.

Many governments, seeking to constrain health-care costs, do not acknowledge the substantial burden of headache on society. They might not recognize that the direct costs of treating headache are small in comparison with the huge indirect-cost savings that might be made (eg, by reducing lost working days) if resources were allocated to treat headache disorders appropriately.

The High Cost of Migraines

According to new data presented at the 48th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society, migraine headaches cost American employers more than $24 billion a year in direct and indirect healthcare costs. Source: PR Newswire

Conventional Migraine Treatments

Conventional medicine recommends the use of pain medication to hide the most troublesome symptoms. Avoidance of triggers is not itself a treatment but doctors frequently recommend this as a prophylactic or preventative technique. Doctors also sometimes prescribe medications as an additional prophylactic.

Alternative Migraine Treatments

Popular alternative remedies include acupuncture, chiropractic and massage treatments.

From Wikipedia: While acupuncture is effective “true” acupuncture is not more efficient than sham acupuncture, with both appearing more effective than routine care, with fewer adverse effects than prophylactic drug treatment. Chiropractic manipulation, physiotherapy, massage and relaxation might be as effective as propranolol or topiramate in the prevention of migraine headaches…There is some tentative evidence of benefit for magnesium, coenzyme Q(10), riboflavin, vitamin B(12), and feverfew… Of the alternative medicines, Petasites hybridus (butterbur) has the best evidence for migraine prevention.

Common Migraine Triggers

Many people find that their migraine begins soon after consuming a particular food, or in the presence of a particular environmental factor. Author Alexander Mauskop lists these common triggers as: cheese, bacon, nuts, avocados, chocolate, yeast, spices, hot dogs, corn, anything fermemented, red wine, beer, beverages containing caffeine, skipping meals, stress, fatigue, bright lights, strong odors, certain medications, perfumes and other odors, air pollution, hormonal changes, the weather, seasonal changes and altitude.

The Problem with Avoiding Migraine Triggers

While some of these items should rightfully be avoided anyway, others, such as avocados, spices, the weather and seasonal changes are healthy, enjoyable parts of living well. Avocados provide some of the healthiest fat on Earth. As for spices… surely migraine sufferers shouldn’t be expected to avoid all 350+ common spices, many of which provide important nutrients and are indispensable in preventing many diseases. Those living high in the mountains could certainly move their household to a lower city, but with a considerable expense and inconvenience. And just how would you go about avoiding the weather. Either you must stay indoors forever, or perhaps move to San Diego, Malta or Colombia. You may indeed get some more enjoyment out of life by selecting one of these places to live, but this certainly cannot be an acceptable recommendation for avoiding migraines.

Avoid These Migraine-Causing Chemicals

I strongly suggest avoiding all of the following chemicals, even if you do not suffer from migraines. These chemicals are linked with migraines and a host of other serious physical and mental conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s to cancer to epileptic seizures and more.

Aspartame, a popular sweetener found in many packaged foods labelled “sugar free”, is linked to migraines and many other conditions. The journal Pediatric Neurology recently published a study on teens that frequently chew gum (most of which contains the chemical Aspartame). Of the thirty patients studied, 26 reported significant improvement and 19 reported a complete improvement after discontinuing the habit of gum-chewing. All twenty patients that resumed the habit experienced headache or migraine within days.

Bisphenol A (BPA), which mimics oestrogen, frequently leaches into food and beverages from its plastic container. A recent study published in the journal Toxicological Sciences provides more proof that BPA causes migraines.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is an excitatory neurotoxin (or excitotoxin) that is commonly added to packaged foods and even restaurant foods (particularly Chinese restaurant food) to enhance the neurologic perception of the food’s taste. In other words, the food does not actually taste better, but the brain is tricked into perceiving a better taste. The brain cells that are excited by MSG then die, so the enhanced pleasure comes at a great cost.   A 2010 study from the University of Oxford found that a gene called TRESK was implicated in some migraine patients. The researchers found that if the TRESK gene malfunctions, other factors (such as MSG) can more easily trigger a migraine.

Migraine Medications

Web-md.com lists 91 pharmaceutical medications for temporary migraine relief. Some doctors prescribe one or more of these medications for acute migraine attacks and others also prescribe medication as a prophylactic, that is, to prevent future migraines. Prophylactic treatments are considered effective if they cut down the severity or frequency of the migraine attacks by half or more.

Medication-Overuse Headaches (MOH)

A common side effect of migraine medicines is that they actually cause  migraines.(2) Sometimes this side effect does not appear the first few times a new medication is taken, suggesting that the medication accumulates in the body, worsening the condition over time. This is called Medication-overuse Headaches (MOH).

This study, sponsored by the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline examined Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) Alone or With a Triptan and Reports of Transition From Episodic to Chronic Migraine. The study was completed in 2011 but the results were never published. Dare I guess the reason that the results remain hidden? The most likely answer is that the results of the study were not particularly flattering to the drug giant.

Other Common Side Effects of Popular Migraine Medications

Other side effects of popular migraine medications include an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and bleeding, sometimes-fatal hepatic (liver) problems, renal (kidney) problems, muscle weakness, dizziness, nausea and mental health problems including depression, anxiety, irritability, and psychotic reactions, and sleep disturbances such as insomnia and nightmares. Some migraine medications cause weight gain and hair loss. Using Botox as a migraine treatment can cause headaches, bruising and pain at the injections sites, drooping eyelid, muscle pain and stiffness, and the inability to raise the eyebrows for the 3 months the Botox is in effect.

My Quest for the Migraine Cure

I began searching for an effective treatment for migraine at a very young age, to provide relief for two family members. Initially I looked at massage and myotherapy, without finding immediate success in either of these methods. I began reading about reflexology, acupuncture, chiropractic and other physical manipulation techniques. Each of these methods has been successful for some patients but not for the majority. I read up on homeopathy, naturopathy, and nutrition. These last two seemed to offer a real solution that would require patience and dedication on the part of the sufferer to produce results. I have incorporated this knowledge into my protocol, but I still needed to develop a method to provide immediate relief for those experiencing an acute migraine attack, and a system that could pre-empt future migraine attacks for at least the length of time needed to implement the naturalistic nutrition and lifestyle plans. I continued reading and experimenting for many years.

My Key Discovery: Wiggliness is Wellness!

By experimenting on more than a thousand volunteers I discovered that those suffering with migraines (and other serious health conditions) were less wiggly than healthier volunteers. I began to associate wiggliness with wellness. I noticed that wiggliness was not directly associated with any other physical attribute such as flexibility, body constitution/shape or overall fitness level. I began to focus more and more on wiggliness. Babies are the wiggliest humans and tend to be healthy. The elderly are the least wiggly and tend to suffer many chronic health conditions. There are other factors at play besides wiggliness, of course, but I was nonetheless interested to find a method for restoring wiggliness. I eventually developed a method that works, and the results have been called “miraculous” by those that experienced immediate and lasting relief from my system, when countless other systems had previously failed.

My Protocol for Immediate and Lasting Migraine Relief

After more than two decades of experimentation, I  succeeded in developing a highly effective,  non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical treatment protocol for chronic headaches and chronic migraines.

The hallmark of my system is a unique method of restoring the normal energy flow (wiggliness!) throughout the entire body, such that the body is able to “heal itself” quickly and efficiently. This self-healing includes proper oxygenation and detoxification, which are apparently hindered by a lack of what I call “wiggliness”.

In most cases, my migraine-healing method can eliminate an acute migraine attack in under ten minutes. By the end of the first session (which typically lasts 1.5 – 2 hours), the energy flow has been restored to the extent that approximately 80% of migraine sufferers will not have a recurrence for an extended period, generally 6 months – 1 year, even without a follow-up treatment. In the remaining 20% of subjects where migraines do continue, they are generally more than 50% less frequent and less severe. In these cases, a follow-up treatment may further improve the condition.

My migraine-healing method is designed to provide immediate relief from an acute migraine attack, as well as an effective non-pharmaceutical prophylactic against the migraines that would otherwise be forthcoming. Migraine pain is debilitating and demoralizing. It is therefore necessary to alleviate the condition for as long as possible, to afford the patient time and “space” to implement the remainder of my anti-migraine protocol. My migraine-healing treatment provides the necessary freedom from pain and stress and then focuses on making the result permanent through lifestyle training.

My migraine-healing method involves a sequence of 40 techniques of gentle body manipulation, each of which is set to a carefully-selected piece of music that contains a specific “pulse”. The movements must perfectly correspond with the pulse of the music. The majority of the techniques are quite simple. This allows my system to be taught to many people with different backgrounds. A chiropractor, a doctor or an experienced massage therapist will be able to master all 40 techniques with as little as three days of practice. Compassionate but less-experienced care-givers will still be able to perform 35 of those techniques.

The goal of my system is to allow energy to pass through the body “unobstructed” (to the greatest extent possible during a single session). If a serious blockage can be reduced by 80% during the session, the migraine condition will be halted. If the person were suffering an acute migraine attack just prior to the treatment, this will have disappeared. If the person usually suffers a daily migraine, she will likely enjoy a considerable period of time free of further attacks. This period is usually a minimum of several months but can be extended indefinitely with a very simple daily exercise that takes just 1-2 minutes to maintain the benefits of the treatment over the long term.

In addition to migraine symptoms vanishing, the patient may experience other benefits. If she previously had suffered from insomnia or anxiety, these conditions will also greatly improve and there may also be an improvement in some cases of depression.

The remainder of my protocol (besides its hallmark treatment described above) relates to living in harmony with nature. I developed The Lotus Lifestyle to provide the 8 simple steps for avoiding migraines and pretty well every other serious health problem:

  1. Breathe clean air, softly and deeply.
  2. Get adequate sunlight.
  3. Drink clean, living water.
  4. Eat plants to alkalize.
  5. Get wiggly with my migraine-healing treatment, or with fluid exercise such as tai chi.
  6. Detoxify with saunas, massage or fasting.
  7. Meditate or pray.
  8. Restand dream .

The Lotus Lifestyle is designed for everyone, not just migraine sufferers. It provides the guidelines for obtaining the correct nutrients and avoiding and eliminating harmful toxins. It is possible to follow The Lotus Lifestyle without spending a penny. I frequently teach this method in schools and when I am invited as a guest speaker. At my wellness center The Lotus Garden, visitors “learn by doing”… that is to say, they live all eight components of The Lotus Lifestyle, so they can immediately feel the dramatic improvement in their overall wellness. Daytime visitors can get an immediate boost in their energy and a dramatic reduction in pain and they can get a taste of delicious, healthy food. Guests that stay a longer period can fully detox and fully renew themselves, while breathing clean air and sampling infinite varieties of healthy meals.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with your questions or comments, or to book a visit to the Lotus Garden.

References

  1. Understanding the Biologic Basis of Migraine: Jes Olesen, M.D., New England Journal of Medicine, December 22, 1994
  2. Too frequent use of painkillers can cause rather than cure headaches: Hawkes N. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22991196 British Medical Journal. September 18, 2012
  3. Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs Alone or With a Triptan and Reports of Transition From Episodic to Chronic Migraine (study completed but results never published) ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01435941
  4. The Influence of Excessive Chewing Gum Use on Headache Frequency and Severity Among Adolescents, Pediatric Neurology, Nov 1, 2013

  5. Migraine Headaches, Journal of American Medical Association, June 24, 2009, Vol 301, No. 24
  6. Excitotoxins in Foods, Neurotoxicology. 1994 Fall;15(3):535-44.
  7. The American Migraine Foundation
  8. PR Newswire American Headache Society
  9. World Health Organization  Global Burden of Disease Study
  10. The Migraine Trust

This article was originally published on October 1, 2012 and was last edited December 18, 2013.

The Benefits of Yoga and How to Achieve Them

Yoga Steps to Enlightenment

A summary of yoga’s physical, mental and spiritual benefits, and a primer on the many lifestyle options that help you to achieve those benefits and, preferably, to share the benefits with others.

The Benefits of Yoga

Recognizing Yoga (oneness) offers physical, mental and spiritual benefits.

Among the physical benefits are, a stronger, more toned and more balanced body that is free of pain. In addition, yoga prevents and cures* innumerable diseases including stomach acid, cancer, heart problems, anaemia, appendicitis, arthritis, asthma, backache, high or low blood pressure, loss of memory, breathlessness, bronchitis, broncho-pneumonia, cold, cough, colic, colitis, constipation, coronary thrombosis, diabetes, diarrhea, dilation of heart, dysentery, dyspepsia, epilepsy, fatigue, flatulence, gastritis, gout, halitosis, insomnia, menstrual disorders, migraines, nervous debility, obesity, polio, paralysis, piles, pleurisy and pneumonia, rheumatic pains, sciatica, sterility, thrombosis of the legs, tonsilitis, tuberculosis, tumour of the stomach, gastric and duodenal ulcers and varicose veins. (Source: items listed in bold are from my own experience. Other conditions are listed in the book “Light on Yoga” by B.K.S. Iyengar. * A disease can be cured when its root cause is correctly identified and eliminated. Simply joining a yoga class is unlikely to give you this result. It is wise that you do search for the real cause of your imbalance/illness rather than simply masking symptoms. Welcome to discuss this with your doctor, too.) As for the mental benefits, yoga eliminates stress and leaves you relaxed so that you can live and sleep in peace. The final goal of yoga is the most profound benefit, that of recognizing our total union with God and all of creation. This union is already a given… but recognizing it fully will bring supreme lasting joy.

Yogis, instructors and masters

A yogi is someone that is searching to know himself more deeply, such that he is able to recognize the unity of body, mind, spirit and universe. An instructor is one that helps another in the search for this discovery of truth. Every yoga instructor is also a yogi or a seeker until the moment he attains the final goal, the moment that he becomes a yoga master. A yoga master is one that has attained the goal of total awareness of oneness with God and with the entire creation. A master then guides others towards the  goal using old methods or new ones specially adapted to eliminate the specific blockages in the path of the individual. Although realized yoga masters are few and difficult to find, each one of us has a yoga master deep within ourselves.

The many paths of yoga (ways of becoming more aware of oneness)

The interrelation of the many paths of yoga
The interrelation of the many paths of yoga

Any method or system is called yoga when it helps a yogi to develop consciousness, such that he can better know his true essence, where his body, mind and spirit dance freely, and work together synergistically.

There are many known yoga systems for getting closer to the final goal. But it is always possible for someone to reach the final goal with or without a proven (old) system. The dedicated work in one’s self-invented system should be considered a “new yoga” from the moment of the achievement. The following fields and disciplines are some of the known (old) yoga systems:

Karma Yoga

Karma is the law of action/reaction. It is impossible to avoid karma because every action generates at least one reaction. Good actions lead to favourable reactions. Giving and receiving are inseparable. The yogi that gives unselfishly generates good karma. If you believe that your current situation is unfavourable, you may wish to analize the specific steps you took to get into that situation. Thinking about “past lives” is usually nothing more than a cop-out, which incorrectly blames the distant past thereby allowing the person to elude his or her direct responsibility for recent actions. It is foolish to speak of “having bad karma” without doing anything about it. More intelligent would be to trace your current position back just a few steps to determine the precise reason that you are now experiencing discomfort. This will surely help you avoid repeating those steps and hence the discomfort.

Bakti Yoga

Bakti means devotion (to God, to the Lord, or to one’s guru). Religious persons (of any religious belief) frequently practice bakti yoga, although they may not call it by this name. Devotion to a job, a boss, a partner or a child could (on rare occasions) be considered bakti yoga but only when the yogi fully recognizes the divine in the object of devotion.

Jnana Yoga

Jnana Yoga is yoga of the intellect, great for lawyers, judges, scientists, linguists and anyone that enjoys digging deeper into life, to examine its essence, and to find the appropriate words to explain that essence. In particular, one must differentiate between that which is real/eternal, and that which is merely a temporary manifestation. That which we observe through the five notorious senses falls into the second category.

Hatha Yoga

Ha-tha means “sun-moon”. Here, sun and moon are referred to, metaphorically, as polar opposites. (Of course, the moon is not really the opposite of the sun, but we get the image of a day-night continuum so the metaphor is somewhat useful.) Hatha Yoga is one of the newest of the proven (old) yoga systems. Its earliest document is from the 11th century, a yogi called Gorakh, who sometimes lived like a king and sometimes like an ascetic, two “opposite” ends of a social continuum. Today, most people use the term “Hatha Yoga” to refer to a system of bodily postures and breathing techniques to heal and balance the body, such that the (indivisible) bodymind becomes a “better” vehicle for the soul. Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (died in 1989), Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar are the prominent authors of this “modern” style of Hatha Yoga.

Chakrasana
Chakrasana

The asanas or postures at once stretch and strengthen all of the muscles and tissues while purifying them of toxins.

Hatha Yoga can be gentle or intense to adapt to the level of each individual. The practice implies the observation of both extremes of the duality of tension and relaxation. That is to say, that the yogi achieves the desired relaxation through the excercises that stretch and tense the muscules. The breathing exercises help the yogi to control her or his energy level since the air is charged with prana or pure energy that we can store for later use.

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga is an eightfold path that includes the disciplines of hatha yoga (asana and pranayama), and six more disciplines: yama, niyama, pratyahara, darana, dhyana and samadhi.

  1. Yama means control or observation. When used by itself, it refers to observing the universe, in general. One can observe areas of “peace” and “non-peace” for example. We humans do love to categorize! We observe that peace is “better” than non-peace. This is a judgement. Despite the bad stigma that people often attach to this word, there is no reason to eliminate judgements altogether.
  2. Niyama is “control or observation towards oneself“. It refers to personal discipline, including hygiene and purifying the body and the mind by eliminating physical toxins and emotional toxins like hatred and pride, passion, anger, greed and delusion. The yogi observes that these emotions are useless and hurtful and replaces them with a greater dedication to that which brings wellbeing and happiness.
  3. Asanas are as mentioned in the section above, hatha yoga.
  4. Pranayamas are also as mentioned above.
  5. Pratyahara is the state that is achieved when one is no longer a slave to his or her five nototious senses, namely, touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. These normally dominate us through their frequent requests and complaints. The pleasure that we receive through these five senses is temporary and therefore these senses represent traps in the path towards perpetual joy. (The sixth sense, intuition, does not require disconnecting.) The yogi finds within himself a joy to which he or she always has access, including when the five senses would otherwise signal a lacking.
  6. Darana concentration. This can be used as a “platform”, from which one can more easily “climb” to a state of meditation.
  7. Dhyana – meditation. Meditation more closely resembles “observation” than “relaxation” although there are many meditacion groups that focus on the latter.
  8. Samadhisuperconsciousness achieved through profound meditation.

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini Yoga is a system to awaken and to raise the energy up along the spinal column. The practitioner feels a strong and unique sensation each time the energy bursts through another chakra (imagine an orgasm in the heart!). The chakras are energy wheels, similar to the roundabouts that connect several high-traffic city streets. The energy spins around instead of stopping and starting, as at a traffic light.

Tantra Yoga

Tantra is the highest form of cultivating the energy within for its healing effects on the self and others. In Kundalini Yoga, the healing energy is awakened and circulated. In Tantra Yoga, the healing energy is multiplied and transformed into all other energies. Tantra is often marketed as a sexual practice. This is an aberration to say the least. While learning Tantra Yoga will undeniably help your love life in countless ways, you’ll find even more benefits in all other areas of your life. And, although yoga is essentially about “uniting”, there are many Tantra practices that can be practiced even without a partner.

Where to practice yoga, and with whom?

You can practice yoga (oneness) on your own at any time, without the need of an instructor. Oneness is your essence, and the essence of the entire universe. Therefore you needn’t go anywhere to find an example of oneness. If you want to practice physical postures, there are yoga schools on almost every street corner in many parts of the world (USA and Canada, for example), and in other countries where yoga schools are not so ubiquitous, there are still several options. These schools will likely focus almost entirely on physical posture and breath. To enjoy the class, fully, understand where most teachers and students are coming from… it is decidedly unwise to challenge them on any concepts mentioned during the scheduled class. Despite a general view that yogis tend to be “open-minded”, the reverse is often the case when a learned yogi is challenged on his acquired knowledge. If you are inclined to challenge someone, please challenge someone that will not be offended by this. Like me, for example. If you have a partner or a group, you can share the experience and benefits of yoga, by practicing partner yoga. Posing together is not only an artistic thing to do, it also provides additional support and challenges in a way that increases the benefits for all involved.

Yoga para parejas
Partner Yoga

Get wiggly!

Wiggly Baby

Exercise and Stretch your Muscles

A crucial step in The Lotus Lifestyle is to get and stay wiggly.

Almost any physical activity will give you multiple benefits in your body, mind and soul. These benefits include strong muscles, weight control, increased self-esteem, balance and flexibility. Since your skin is an eliminative organ, any profuse sweating will purge environmental toxins through your skin.

To ensure that these benefits are life-long, choose a sport that you love to practice. But recognize that some sports are taxing on certain body parts while neglecting others. And some demand brute strength and lineal movements instead of fluid movements, with balance and flexibility. In other words, some forms of exercise will make you stronger, but less wiggly.

Among the best forms of exercise are swimming, yoga and martial arts such as tai chi and karate. With its thousands of postures, yoga will not neglect a single body part. It will promote strength, control and flexibility in all of your muscles, including the small stabilizing muscles, and importantly the heart and respiratory muscles. Martial arts will do the same, but with the added advantage of extra calories burned and (if it includes sparring) you will quickly learn to overcome stress.

Exercise is not the only way to get wiggly, but it is the one way to take charge of your own wiggliness.

The other option is a system that I developed to heal physical, mental and emotional illness without any effort on the part of the patient. Essentially it is a system of passive yoga, wherein I stretch, twist and wiggle the entire body to a very specific pulse. My system is highly effective against conditions like migraines, insomnia and anxiety. Very often, long-lasting results can be achieved in just one or two complete sessions.But for many people that live far from me, the treatment that I developed is not a feasible option. I therefore encourage you to try your best to get wiggly on your own. One final note on wiggliness: wiggly does not mean weak. It means that energy can pass freely throughout your body. Think of how a garden hose would react to your wiggling one end of it. In the relaxed state, your body should do roughly the same. If instead your body moves like a stick, then you have an energetic blockage that needs to be removed for optimal wellness.