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Healthy Yoga Lifestyle – Simplified for Lifestyle Disorders*

Thanks to automation in the name of convenience and comfort, nuclear family with consumeristic and self-centric living style which have affected human physical, emotional and spiritual health. Fast faced life and excess use of junk foods and modern gadgets namely the car, TV, cell phone, microwave oven, refrigerator, air conditioner etc. with cordless & remote controls leading to sedentary and addictive lifestyle, causing serious lifestyle disorders with life threatening morbidity and even death. Environmental pollution due to automobile exhausts and industrial effluents, electromagnetic radiation and stressful living are distancing the man away from nature contributing to increased risk of non-communicable diseases namely cardiovascular diseases (heart attack and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (COPD and asthma) and diabetes. Role of industrial farming and production of foods with extensive use of insecticides, storage and processing of fast foods with chemical cocktail followed by excess consumption, need extensive study in understanding the possible reasons for the increase in cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, allergy etc.

Obesity, stress, wrong food habits, lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle are playing a major role in causing type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiac problems. Yoga Way of Life – means the way of life based on the vision of Oneness. It is a complete science for living a simple life in harmony with nature and whole creation. Nature, they say heals. It is a stress buster too. Childhood and adult obesity have become endemic in developed and developing countries due to consumerism aggressively pursued by processed food industry with chemicals acting as slow poisons. Stress, a man made health problem is increasing due to competitive, fast moving and ambitious lifestyle.

Globalization of unhealthy lifestyles away from nature will lead to increased cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Tobacco accounts for almost 6 million deaths every year. About 3.2 million deaths annually can be attributed to insufficient physical activity. Approximately 1.7 million deaths are attributed to low fruit and vegetable consumption. In terms attributable deaths, the leading NCD risk factor globally is elevated blood pressure (to which 13% global deaths are attributed) followed  by tobacco use (9%), raised blood glucose (6%), physical inactivity (6%) and overweight and obesity (5%) (

World health statistics 2012 report puts the spotlight on the growing problem of the non communicable disease burden. It is estimated that mortality from diabetic and heart disease cost India about $210 billion every year and is expected to increase to $335 billion in the next ten years. The Harvard School of Public Health has, in a study on economic losses due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), estimated that the economic burden of these ailments for India will be close to $6.2 trillion for the period 2012-30, a figure that is equivalent to nearly nine times the total health expenditure during the previous 19 years of $710 billion. NCDs, chiefly cardiovascular diseases (including heart disease and stroke), diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases, are defined as diseases of long duration and generally slow progression. They are the major cause of adult mortality and illness worldwide.

Yoga (Science of Holistic Living) based lifestyle is an old traditional and spiritual way of living for prevention and management of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, obesity, neuromuscular and psychiatric illnesses. Yoga in addition to physical postures and breathing techniques to tune the body, includes meditation which helps in control of mind and blissful living. Yoga’s ability to reduce stress and improve the quality of life is well recognized.

Patanjali defines yoga as a process of gaining control over mind with power of concentration. Yoga based lifestyle consists of mainly (1) Yama (principles of moral code); (2) Niyama (personal discipline); (3) Yogic asanas and (4) Pranayama (breath control), for body tuning; (5) Pratyahara (detachment); (6) Dharana; (7) Dhyana and (8) Samadhi (Meditation for relaxation and blissful feeling).

Meditation is conscious sleep, while sleep is unconscious meditation. It is the journey toward Self, transcending body and mind. It is an art of living in the present moment with cessation of thoughts. Meditation (Vipassana, Yognidra or Mindfulness) has become an important component of mind-body medicine for promotion of optimal health. Mindfulness based stress reduction programme (MBSR) is being practiced in over 200 hospitals in US and is currently the focus of a number of research studies. Dean Ornish has proved that Yogic Way of Life, vegetarian diet and stress management causing reversal of blockages in the coronary arteries. Yoga based lifestyle (YOGism) may be simply described as simple living and positive & spiritual thinking with regularity in food & exercise, devotion and commitment to the task undertaken, yogasana, Pranayama and meditation at least 30 min in a day for integration of Body-Mind-Soul, contented life with service to the needy community.   Yoga based lifestyle with meditation helps in developing balanced personality, promotes innate immunity, strengthens resistance to infections, prevents lifestyle disorders (diabetes, heart disease, stroke etc), reduces stress and thus leads to a healthy, peaceful and productive living. 

March 18, 2014                                                                Prof. B.C. Harinath

*paper presented at 10th International Conference on Ayurveda & Lifestyle Disorders,  February 15 – 16, 2014 organized by AAPNA In collaboration with Bharat Seva Sansthan, Lucknow and also published in Bhavan Australia (Jan/Feb  2014)