India studies yogic power for life without food

April 29, 2010 by Rajesh Joshi

A team of military doctors backed by India’s national defence research centre is studying an 83-year-old holy man who claims to have spent seven decades surviving without food or water.

The long-haired and bearded yogi, Prahlad Jani, has been sealed in a hospital in the western city of Ahmedabad where he is under 24-hour observation by 30 doctors and will be subjected to a series of medical tests.

“The observation from this study may throw light on human survival without food and water,” doctor G. Ilavazahagan, director of India’s Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS), told AFP.

The DIPAS is part of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, India’s state defence and military research institute also behind a grenade packed with chilli powder that recently hit headlines.

“This may help in working out strategies for survival during natural calamities, extreme stressful conditions and extra-terrestrial explorations like future missions to the Moon and Mars by the human race,” Ilavazahagan said.

The tests on Jani include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, measuring brain and heart activity with electrodes and other neuro-physiological studies, in addition to blood tests.

The experiment started on April 22 and will take 15-20 days. Since the beginning, Jani has neither eaten nor drunk and has not been to the toilet, Ilavazahagan said.

“The exercise of taking this yogi under the medical scanner is to understand what energy supports his existence,” he added, explaining that soldiers could benefit from his apparent ability to survive.

“Jani says he meditates to get energy. Our soldiers will not be able to meditate, but we would still like to find out more about the man and his body,” he said.

Neurologist Sudhir Shah, who studied Jani in 2003 and is part of the new experiment, said that the extremely skinny but apparently active man faced round-the-clock observation.

“Two stationary 24-hour video cameras have been set up in his room, while a mobile video camera follows him whenever he needs to step outside,” he said.

Jani, who dresses in red and wears a nose ring, grew up in Charod village in the Mehsana district in Gujarat and claims to have been blessed by a goddess aged eight, which has enabled him to survive without sustenance.

Shah said that Jani told him the key to his survival was a mystical and unexplained process by which he receives drops of water through a hole in his palate.

Analysis of data, to determine his secret or expose his fraudulence, will take at least two months, the doctors said.

Fasting is a part of Indian culture, made famous by independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, who brought himself to the brink of death on several occasions by refusing food and water to protest against colonial rule.

A monk from India’s minority Jain religion — devout followers of which undertake frequent fasts, sometimes to death — claims to have deprived himself of food for one year, which is believed to be a record

“If you’re busy with something you don’t feel hunger, thirst, or the heat and cold,” said Sri Sahaj Muni Maharaj, who took daily glasses of warm water during his fast which ended on May 1998.

“I’m busy contemplating the infinite,” he told India’s Outlook magazine one month before the end of his experiment.

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Heard of Facial Yoga?

Busy urban people all over the world practise Yoga today. Many people see it as a therapeutic exercise that strengthen the body and relaxes the mind.  Much research and articles has been written about how Yoga brings about wonderful benefits to busy people and Yoga classes are the top exercise routine in many fitness studios.

I practise Hartha Yoga regularly too. I know there are various forms of Yoga but Hartha Yoga suits me fine and I’ve been too busy to explore other forms of Yoga. Imagine my surprise when I read about Facial Yoga. This certainly sound interesting…

A wrinkled face is not a good look but as the years catch up with you, short of going under the knife there’s no way to avoid it.

Or at least there wasn’t, until a new set of facial exercises called face yoga promised to turn back the clock, returning your face to its smooth, youthful prime, without a scalpel in sight.

Face yoga has already won devotees among the forever-young-looking celebrity crowd, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston said to be big fans. It’s the brainchild of New York yoga teacher Annelise Hagen, who teaches it at the swanky New York Health & Racquet Club.

You can read an article and see pictures about Facial Yoga at this website

Facial Yoga is also known as Happy Face Yoga because many of the facial postures in Facial Yoga revolve around different kind of smiles. I guess smiling always make one looks younger and fresher and perhaps that’s why Facial Yoga exercises tends to smile a lot.

You can check out some of Facial Yoga videos below. If you practise Yoga in a studio, you may want to ask your Yoga instructor the next time you see him or her about Facial Yoga!

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Bikram Hot Yoga

There are many schools of Yoga. One of the fastest growing Yoga practice is Bikram or Hot Yoga.

Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 postures with 2 breathing exercises practised in a room heated to 105ºF (40ºC) in 90 minutes. Each posture in the sequence is designed to safely stretch and open the body in preparation for the next posture. The Bikram Method stimulates the organs, glands and nerves and systematically moves fresh, oxygenated blood to 100 percent of the body.

The heat is believed to stimulate blood flow in the body, encourage toxin loss through sweating and lessen the risk of muscle injuries due to cold muscles. Hot Yoga can be practised by both beginners and advanced practitioners alike because the series of postures are the same for every session and all practioners can only get better with each session. Watch the video below to see the response of Hot Yoga practioners.


Yoga Music – Salute to the Sun

I practise Yoga regularly. Yoga music adds a soothing and calming effect when you are doing your Yoga postures and I like it so much that I even play Yoga music when driving or when trying to sleep at night.

Yoga music is also suitable when you’re having a spa session or when you’re self-meditating. Here’s a sample of a Yoga music. Play it. Even if you’re not a Yoga enthusiast, I am sure you’ll agree that it adds a soothing effect on the mind and body.


Yoga at Home

I do Yoga regularly and try to practise at least twice a week at the gym. I spend another two days practising Yoga on my own at home because I find that I am spending too much time running back and forth to the gym and that Yoga is basically something you can practise alone at home.

If you are keen on doing Yoga at home as well, here’s the basic items you’ll need to start off:

1. A good non-slip Yoga mat
2. Tight gym clothes
3. A TV and a good instructor-led DVD or VHS video on Yoga so that you can practise along
4. Aromatherapy or fragrance burner to enhance the ambiance (Optional)
5. Soft music (Optional)

I normally rest for about an hour after dinner and then start my Yoga session at home. First, I’ll light up an aromatherapy candle or burner and then tone down the lights a notch or two. I find that building up the mood and ambiance contribute a lot to an enjoyable Yoga session.

Then, I’ll run the Yoga DVD video disc and follow along with the TV Yoga guru for an hour or so. I’ll next rest for half an hour or so before running a nice, warm hot shower. Then, I’ll drink down two glasses of plain water before turning in for the day.

I find that drinking two glasses of water at the start and end of the day help me flush off the toxins in my body. I also find that a round of Yoga practice followed by a hot shower let me fall asleep easily nowadays compared to a time prior to starting Yoga when I was always having a hard time falling asleep at night.

So, if you’re thinking of picking up a non-strenuous exercise or have insomnia problems at night, why not pick up my idea of doing an hour or so of Yoga at home. Home Yoga is completely a sustainable form of self-exercise for home and it does not take up a lot of space, equipments, time nor need a sporting partner.

Yoga is not as strenuous as a lot of other sports and is just the right exercise to do at home alone or with another family member. Yoga is both a therapeutic exercise for the mind – for it leaves you relaxed and serene after a session, and at the same time it is a also an exercise for the body for it tones up your muscle and loosen your ligaments.

If you need help in starting Yoga training or will feel more confident with a good instructor-led Yoga DVD video to follow along, you can pick up these video VHS tapes or DVD disc or even a Yoga exercise mat at this website!

Yoga DVD


Amazing Yoga Postures Life-like Illustrations

Once in a while, you come across things that simply take your breath away. It could be a scene from a movie, a piece of rousing music, a child’s painting, a nicely-setup food presentation or a funny busker on the road.

This fully illustrated book on how the different body muscles and skeletal work with various Yoga postures simply took my breath away! I have never seen anything so real, so lifelike and so representative of the art of Yoga.

It is simply one of those books that you must have on your coffee table even if you only flip through it once a month. Check it out and I’m sure you will be just as amazed too! And what better gift to give to anyone that is a Yoga enthusiast than this amazing book!

And for any Yoga teachers or masters out there, I will never understand if this book is not in your personal reference list all the time! Check out the amazing illustrations here


Three months of Yoga

This is my third month of taking up Yoga. In 3 months, I have grown from a Yoga novice to a basic Yoga practitioner.

Despite a busy work schedule, I try to visit the Yoga studio at least twice a week. I look forward to each and every Yoga practice and can’t wait for the next. I guess I have never stretched my body as much as I did during these 3 months.

Yoga has brought me more than just physical release. It has brought me mental release as well.

In these three months, I have tried Hatha Yoga and Therapy Yoga.

In Hatha Yoga, we were put through a series of stances, poses and postures. It may look easy when our Yoga master demonstrated these positions but when it came to doing it ourselves, our body certainly had a tough time. Many other trainees and myself had a hard time and it was only through our Yoga Master who pushed us to develop our bodies and strengths and overcome our weaknesses and our fears that we were able to achieve many of Hatha Yoga poses.

He kept telling us that we would become stronger and he gave us all the belief to carry on. And each time as I practiced and meditated, my body and mind became stronger and more relaxed. Eventually, I was able to do many Hatha Yoga moves which I had thought would be impossible previously.

Therapy Yoga is less physically demanding as compared to Hatha Yoga. It is also my favorite Yoga practice at the moment.

Therapy Yoga consist of a series of stretching movements, Yoga breathing techniques and relaxation and meditation sessions. I find Therapy Yoga a wonderful physical and mental release especially after a day of stressful work.

For every physical position we do or a breathing technique that we practice for Therapy Yoga, our Master would explain to us their benefits including how each posture or technique would help us build up certain physical immunity or fight certain kind of illness.

Both Yoga discipline have been very beneficial to me in self-tuning and re-alignment with my inner self. I look forward to every Yoga lesson; especially when I feel stressed out by work and other matters. The Yoga practices do give a lot of relief after every session, and it was a great experience!

If you have been thinking of starting Yoga or wondering if Yoga is helpful, well, you have my full recommendation that Yoga is certainly beneficial for both the body and mind especially if you lead hectic city lives! You will find yourself coming out afresh from each Yoga session and you will want to attend the next session as soon as you can.


Yoga miracle – Believe it or not!

If you are a Yoga practitioner or even a casual Yoga observer, I am sure you would have heard stories of Yoga gurus who have made claims to be able to survive without food or air for long period of time or even gurus who can self-levitate and float on thin air!

Well, believe it or not but watch this Dutch man who is prepared to prove his ‘floating’ ability in public!


Pilates and Yoga – What’s the difference?

Yoga poseAt an initial glance to a beginner, pilates and yoga seem to have a lot in common. They are both mind/body conditioning routines that rely on smooth, precise movements and measured breathing. In fact, the similarities between pilates and yoga work are not entirely coincidental. Joseph H. Pilates, the founder of the Pilates Method, studied yoga and martial arts extensively and sought to integrate the mind/body aspects of these practices into his new body conditioning exercises and routines. Hence, it is not surprising to find the influence of Yoga in Pilates. Now, if pilates and yoga have so much in common, what are the major differences between these two very similar mind/body conditioning routines?

Perhaps the most obvious difference between pilates and yoga is that yoga is an ancient mind/body practice that originated in India over 5,000 years ago while pilates is a relatively new phenomenon. Pilates was developed and popularized by Joseph H. Pilates and his wife Clara in the early to mid-twentieth century. Pilates created his famous method while working as a nurse during the First World War in Great Britain. He developed his series of exercises and routines to help rehabilitate injured and immobile soldiers. Pilates was inspired by the ancient asana (movements and postures) of yoga, and tried to incorporate this aspect of yoga into his own routine.

Another main difference between pilates and yoga is the underlying philosophy of each. Although they are both described as mind/body exercise routine formats, pilates is generally considered to be more of an exercise than lifestyle choice. Yoga is not meant to operate merely as a simple exercise and body conditioning routine but instead as an entire lifestyle philosophy. Pilates was first adopted as a physical conditioning routine by professional dancers and gymnasts. Like yoga, pilates also seeks to unite the mind, body, and spirit but does not delve into the meditation and relaxation aspects like yoga does.

Another main difference between yoga and pilates has to do with the strength training aspect of pilates. Pilates focuses strongly on building the core strength of the body. The core of the body refers to the deep abdominal muscles, also referred to as the torso area. Pilates has long been known as a powerful tool for building core strength and for lengthening the spine. Some of the specific goals of pilates are to improve postural symmetry, increase circulation, improve posture, and create long and lean muscles. Yoga, on the other hand, is not promoted as a strength training or body conditioning practice. Both yoga and pilates do indeed help participants deal with stress and cultivate relaxation, although only pilates is geared specifically toward building all-over body muscle and tone.

Pilates also has a strong rehabilitation component that yoga practice does not. Another functional difference between pilates and yoga is the way in which breathing is treated. Both practices place an important focus on breathing. However, breathing is more fundamental in yoga practice than in pilates. In yoga, breathing is taught as an important and integral part of practice and yoga generally instructs that participants breath primarily through the nose. In pilates practice, participants are generally taught to breath through nose and exhale through the mouth.

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Pick up Pilates at the comfort of your home: The Pilates Power System