Jun 17, 2022

Book Review: The Effects of Yoga on Hypertension by Dr Swami Shankardevananda

 My ILs were diagnosed with hypertension in their early 40s. As the years progressed, diabetes followed and then a few other ailments got added to their diagnosis.

I have always asked myself this question - "No smoking, no drinking alcohol, no meat. They are vegetarians. Their main meals are mostly home-cooked food. Yes, packaged foods intake was high, central obesity, sedentary life, and lack of exercise. BUT, will these alone contribute to all their ailments? Is it due to the side effects of the progressively increasing dosage of all their medications and health supplements? There has to be something more".

It felt like an important piece of this jigsaw puzzle was missing.

As I started reading up more on the power of our mind and our thoughts and how they influence our body, the missing piece started to show up. And this book "Yoga on hypertension" made it more visible. Hypertension is one of the many psychosomatic diseases of today.

Though the focus is on hypertension, this book is relevant for a general understanding of good health.

The author has first explained the circulatory system in great detail in simple language. After setting the context, he talks about the key topic - the autonomic nervous system and its role in blood pressure. He presents a convincing argument on how excessive sympathetic stimulation is one of the key contributing factors behind hypertension. I couldn't agree more on this, having observed the patterns of my family elders.

He shares the present medical view - causes and treatment protocols. He then presents a Yogic view, where he stresses the role our mind plays in the cause of hypertension. The chapter on the connection between our endocrine glands, Chakras, and our nervous system was so fascinating to read.

As for the Cure, the author suggests a holistic view - eliminating our mental issues (anxiety, worry, guilt) through various strategies, regular practice of Asana, Pranayama, Yoga Nidra, and meditation. Shavasana is beneficial for hypertension through conscious relaxation. Many breathing techniques are also recommended, along with a structured Asana and Pranayama practice plan.

Some of the key takeaways:

"Worry was one of the major factors behind hypertension".

"Both heart and blood vessels respond very readily to fluctuations in the mind and emotions."

"Typical cardiac patients had in common a competitive, aggressive, ambitious, stressful lifestyle."

"The mind is a more subtle component than the physical and subject to faster change. It is impressed or indented, by our internal reaction to external events"

"When we find a place within where we can refresh ourselves, it becomes easier to handle external problems."

Highly recommend this book for all, especially if you are diagnosed with hypertension or if you are on the borderline.

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