Yoga and Health
Swami Adhyatmananda

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If children do not have blood in enough quantity it is a condition, which is causing great pain. This paucity of blood is known as anemia. The physical and mental development of children is very much adversely affected by anemia. The children, who are suffering from anemia, stop adding to their weight and height. They cannot concentrate in education. The children have no interest in any job what so ever and to the bad luck of children the parents do not appreciate this apathy Even if the parents know this condition they do not understand any seriousness or even ignore the children. Even when parents try to attend the development of. Children they are not capable to understand that development of children is thwarted by anemia.

Generally if a child has hemoglobin less than 12 gin, he is called anemic. But the symptoms of anemia are visible even before a child goes under 12 gm. The reason is that in other cells of the body, iron is already lower than required. The main symptoms of anemia in children are less hunger, hindrance in increase in weight and height, peevish nature, paucity of natural alertness and vitality. An anemic child loses the disease fighting capacity. Because of this the children get pneumonia, pain in the stomach and typhoid repeatedly If the hemoglobin goes down lower than 5 gin the heart of the child stops working properly It is not necessary that in India as well as in the whole world only poor children get anemia. Children from well to do family also are found anemic. About 5 to 10% of such children pass through serious conditions.

Generally anemia is of many varieties. But mainly there are two types, (1) where elemental iron is less (2) where there is shortage of nutritive food. Besides anemia, children suffer from thalassemia. Children falling a prey to anemia are such where 90% of the children have less of iron or nutritive elements. If the food of children does not contain sufficient iron and protein children can get anemia. A newborn baby has in its body 0.5 gm of iron, whereas an adult body contains 5 gin of iron. This would indicate that considering the efficiency of absorption of food in intestine (this is normally 10%) daily food intake must contain 10 mg of iron. Thus, more 4.5 gin of iron is needed. To meet this target the intestine must absorb and supply to the body a minimum of 1 mg iron daily Besides this the amount of protein in food should also be enough, so that necessary amount of hemo­globin in required proportion will be available in the body.

Normally children like bazaar foods. In America such foods are made available by the widespread chains like McDonald, Pizza-huts, Taco-bell, which market fast foods, toffees, chocolates, savory, samosa, pizza, pasta, or coke and similar cold drinks. But most of these foods are made from all-purpose flour (starch); children hardly absorb any protein or iron from such foods. Even if some slight measure is available it is almost nil. The parents have a wrong impression that the children are eating something, but what they eat will initially increase their weight, but later on make them prey to anemia. Nutritive as well as balanced food is available from home preparations like cooked food, all types of cereals, lentils, pulses, vegetables, fruits, and milk and fruit juices.

Suppose a child is anemic. It is possible that the child may develop rickets there after which is a type of bone dis­eases. It is essential to consult a doctor and get proper examination carried out immediately in order to establish the need for iron and vitamin B complex in the blood of the child. Doctors can advise only after full examination. Children suffer from loss of hunger. They start disliking food. At that time it is no doubt possible to give them medicines for making them hungry, here the practice of Asana, Pranayama and Dhyana can be of great help to the children for making them naturally hungry. However, if a child is hardly six month or one or two years old, it is advisable to give this child, who can hardly understand, required medicine. When a child is very young the parents should exercise self-control and patience. During my tour through America, I observed many children suffering from anemia. The parents go to work from the early morning. The children will eat what they like readily from the refrigerator. When the children return from school the parents are yet not available, the food then also will be similar type. During weekends (Saturday/Sunday) all continue sleeping till late hours. The time is consumed in laundry, weekly purchase and social calls. This way the children are neglected. Although America has developed on the medical and science fields to a great extent the children reared develop many physical and mental diseases as well as despondence and dejection. I have ob­served such children whose height was 10 to 15 cm less for their age and their weight was 4 to 6 kg lower than standard. But in my tour repeated after six months I have observed them quite healthy because of timely treatment given.

Another common condition of anemia arises from thalassemia. This is a hereditary disease. The main reason for this disease is insufficient production or almost nil production of hemoglobin in the body The main type of thalassemia is beta-thalassemia where because of the defect in beta-chain, hemoglobin goes on reducing.

In the whole world about 18 crores people carry genes of beta-thalassemia. About 2.5 crores of such persons reside in India only Every year about one lakh children in the world and about 8000 children in India are born with thalassemia. In the whole world children suffer from this disease except in the country of Cyprus. In India this disease is rampant in North Eastern states, whereas in America the people who are paid under social security, their children are neglected more; because the so called social security money is spent out in “pubs and bars”.

The symptoms of this disease are discernible by the time a child reaches an age of 5 to 6 months only this disease can be diagnosed by Hb-Electro-foresis or P.C.R. It is essential for the& future of the child that the diagnosis of this disease is made as quickly and as early as possible. If it is found necessary, such a child has to· be regularly given blood transfusion so that the content of hemoglobin does not go down under 10 gin. And thereby no defect or harm is caused to any organ of the body as a result of anemia. Many a times, difficult anemic children require monthly blood transfusion. Such type of blood should not be obtained from any unknown source or from professional blood donors because such professional donors lose their original capacity of hemoglobin recouping capacity of blood.

By regular blood transfusion the quantum of iron in the body of the child is maintained, but it is quite possible that more iron than necessary in the body could result in damage. It is therefore essential that every two or three months a test of iron contents be made by a serum ferretin examination. Children suffering from thalassemia should not be fed red meat, eggs-yoke and spinach. Such of the items, which contain higher percentage of iron, should not be permitted. Such condition should be allowed to drink more tea because tenin contained in tea absorbs or draws in iron element available in the intestines.

The abdominal relaxation process or Sivananda Pranayama also affords an additional advantage. (See Hypertension)

Spread a blanket or a warm cloth on the ground, spread a cotton towel on the same and lie down with back on the ground and facing upwards. The main reason for this type of blanket being spread and sleeping there in is that when concentrate over mind and perform Pranayama, the energy or capability in form of electrical charge that gets produced from such concentrations may not be conveyed away to the ground. It is the characteristic of ground to conduct away

electricity hence at the time when we sit for meditation, Pranayama or concentration one should use a spread which is not a conductor of electricity.

Lie down on your back, bend the legs from knees. Keep equal distance between the legs, see that the two knees do not touch each other Keep the heels near the buttocks with the distance enough to ensure that they do not touch the buttocks. Keep both the hands parallel to the body and the palms facing upwards. Now inhale as slowly as possible and exhale also slowly concentrate on the navel. Because the mind here gets concentrated on the solar plexus, the mind is drawn away from surrounding atmosphere hence the body gradually gets relaxed. But the oxygen lying above the navel and the Apana Vayu lying under the navel both get together and awaken Samana Vayu. And the energy created thereby distributes any element found short in, any organ is known as “eeshta apoorte poorta”. Eeshta means proper, Apoorta. This means lesser and Poorta means sufficient or enough. Thus whichever element is insufficient in the body the same element is sent at the spot in enough quantity. In arranging for missing elements in the blood practice of Pranayama, relaxation, concentration and meditation, play a very major role.

When one lies down with legs bent from the knees and knees pointing upward, the blood circulation in the thighs and parts of the lower body reduces and intestines get enough good quantity of blood. Increase of working capacity of intestines creates a new process of sending the iron that is produced additionally in the various organs of the body in the similar manner one can sit facing East on Padmasana, Sukhasana, Siddhasana or Swastikasana or Vajrasana on a blanket spread on ‘the ground in the early morning hours before sunrise and one can practice Pranayama. The practice of Shitali Pranayama specially is useful for supply of oxygen in a greater quantity. For the performance of Shitali Pranayama One has to prepare a tube shape by turning the tongue tubular. One has to inhale through this tube shaped tongue kept in between two lips; the incoming breath has to be kept in for sometime. While exhaling, the breath is to be taken out through the nose.

If the breath is simply inhaled and exhaled, this process is known as Anuloma and Viloma that is Puraka and Rechaka. The proportion of time to be maintained is 1:2. That means to the time spent in exhaling will be twice the time spent in inhaling, that is, the exhaling is at half the speed of inhaling. If the breath is to be retained inside then the proportion for inhaling and keeping inside, then exhaling, and keeping outside will be in the order and proportion of 1:4:2:4. In the initial stages it may not be possible to maintain the proportion for these four. If it is not possible in the beginning this should go gradually increased. Never make any hurry or haste in inhaling, or exhaling. The belly should expand when you breathe in and the belly should get inside when you exhale. In the execution of all breathing exercises this fact has to be perfectly observed.

Padmasana (Fig—67)

Sidhasana (Fig-68)


Swastikasana ( Fig­ 69)


Sukhasana (Fig—70)


For performance of Shitali Pranayama tongue is to be turned in a straight tube but all people may not be able to achieve this. Such persons should extend the tongue outside the mouth and turn the tongue inside in such a way that the tip of tongue turns inside towards back of the tongue; you can then keep this tongue turned in behind the rows of the a teeth and inhale deeply making a sound like  si.......... si............... si................The rest of the rules apply as in the case of Shitali Pranayama. The latter Pranayama is known as Shit-kari Pranayama. If these two Pranayamas are performed in the early morning before sunrise, a very good digestive power is observed, hunger increases, blood gets purified. (1) Proper food (2) correct treatment and (3) the practice of Pranayama — these three have proved very valuable for the production of hemoglobin and necessary elements in the blood in the pure form (see hyper-acidity).

The patient of anemia should initially start with practice of Pranayama and light exercises like Trikonasana and its different forms. Thereafter, Sarvangasana and Surya­namaskara should also be practiced. All these are very natural for the children. If the child is younger than 12 years then in place of Sarvangasana, child can practice Viparita­karani-mudra. The practice of Yoga-mudra is found useful for purification of blood and increase of blood cells.

We are the architects of our lives. Do not allow enemy to grow and to be powerful. No sooner one knows about the existence of an enemy he should be forcefully brought under control. If this much is done, then well-composed health is easily attainable through Yoga.

OM SHANTIH!                

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