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THREE PRANAYAMAS TO STRENGTHEN BREATHING

By Gaurang Chandarana | March 30th, 2015 | LEAVE A COMMENT

 

Meaning Of Pranayama

We have seen in one of the previous articles as to what is Pranayama. The meaning of Prana and Pranayama is much wider and deeper that we expect it to be. However, what it means at a mundane level is to control, regulate and manage your breath or breathing patterns. This process helps to control and calm the mind and a calmer mind in turn assists in regulating breathing. So a pattern is set up when we regularly practice pranayama.

Benefits of Pranayama

Pranayama has many benefits at the physiological levels and psychological levels. It improves functioning of all major internal organs. It aids the rhythmic expansion of the lungs and greatly improves oxygen intake. The circulatory systems improve greatly. In addition, it helps eliminate many diseases and also makes the immune system very strong.

Pranayama helps quieten the mind and senses. This assists in reduction of desires and brings a feeling of bliss. It helps drive away fear from the mind and improves the functioning of the brain in all respects. The list is practically endless of the benefits of pranayama. This is the reason why it has become very popular these days.

Types Of Pranayama

There are many types and methods of pranayama. Most of these are to be practiced only under supervision and that too after one has practiced asanas for at least a year or so. This is because, breathing is a subtle but a high impact process. A lot of damage can occur to the mind and body if done incorrectly. Most of the pranayamas are advanced in nature but many have been simplified by gurus and acknowledged Yogis like Madhavdasji, Shri Yogendra, Swami Kuvalyananda, Swami Sivananda, Shri Krishnamacharya, Shri Iyengar and many others.

There are four main types of pranayama. These are:

  • Puraka; inhalation
  • Kumbhaka; retention after inhalation
  • Rechaka; exhalation &
  • Shunyaka; suspension after exhalation

There are guidelines around each of these and one should prepare properly before commencing any of these.

Preparing Your Self For Pranayama

If you have no background of asanas or pranayama or have not been practicing for a while, there are three pranayamas or breathing techniques which are very beneficial for everyone. These have no side effects at all and can be done everyone. We have forgotten how to breathe properly over the years. We breathe normally and correctly till the time we are children. Once we hit puberty, we start breathing incorrectly. We need to train the body to breathe correctly. This itself brings us great benefits. The key is to practice on a daily basis.

Abdominal Breathing

This is a type of breathing technique which isolates the diaphragm and only makes use of abdominal muscles. Initially, one may find this exhausting but when the diaphragm starts functioning correctly, you will breathe like a baby.

Intercostal Breathing

In this type of breathing we do not move the diaphragm and shoulders at all. We only make use of the chest cavity and intercostal muscles to breathe. We do this by expanding the muscles sideways and not outwards or upwards. The following video explains this.

Clavicular Breathing

The clavicular muscles are the most under utilized muscles for breathing. These are really tiny and have to be trained well to function when required. When great amounts of oxygen is required, these muscles come into play. The video below demonstrates this technique.

All of these techniques have been developed by Shri Yogendra, the founder of the Yoga Institute, Santacruz. Practice ten rounds of each, twice a day, seven days a week for a few months and you will feel the difference in your life. For more online yoga classes and practices, do remember to visit wellzee. 

EXERCISE CAN KILL YOU

By Gaurang Chandarana | March 23rd, 2015 | LEAVE A COMMENT

 

Importance of Fitness

There is a lot of awareness growing that we need to be fit. Staying healthy and keeping fit helps to keep away a lot of diseases and keep the immune system strong. Fitness is being equated to intense exercise. Thus we see a lot of people trying to take up sports, do weight training or practice for different marathon events or cycling events. In spite of so much being spoken about in terms of fitness, there are a larger and larger number of people who are growing more fat and more unhealthy. It has also been seen, that exercising does not really prevent a lot of ailments. So it is important to understand what is fitness.

What is Fitness?

Fitness is not about slim bodies, flat tummies, muscles or six pack abs. Fitness is about remaining physically fit throughout life to be able to function well without any assistance even in old age. Health is also fitness. Apart from the physical condition, do we remain healthy and without diseases? This is also an essential component of fitness and health. So health and fitness is not intense exercising at all. It is regular and adequate physical movement and activities in moderation or (optimal proportion) combined with an appropriate lifestyle.

Impact of Exercise

There have been enough studies to show that exercise helps. However, there are more than enough examples to show that people who do not exercise formally are more healthy and fit than people who exercise. By formal exercise we mean going to a gym or playing a sport or jogging three to four times a week; from thirty minutes to an hour or so in a day. There are many benefits of exercise but there are also many drawbacks which we should be aware of:

  • Sudden intense exercise causes problems of the musculo-skeletal system in the long run. Sitting at a desk whole day and then suddenly doing some exercise with intensity in the morning or evening actually damages the body more. People who over strain have been found to get more problems related to the joints including arthritis, back problems and severe inflammations.
  • Our lifestyles no longer support any form of intense physical activity due to a variety of reasons.
  • Our reasons to exercise in most cases are wrong. Whether we admit it or not; it is less about health and more about looking good, feeling good or looking more sexually attractive. Many times, it is just an unhealthy obsession or a way to socialize.
  • We also exercise or push ourselves when we are fatigued or stressed.
  • This method of exercising is also proving to be fatal in many cases. There are young persons who are dying due to exercise. Let us see how this happens.

How Can Exercise Kill You?

There is a misconception that when you are having stress or you are tired or mentally exhausted, you should exercise. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you are very stressed, the body is also physically stressed from within. The entire human mechanism is geared to responding to stress. Stress chemicals and hormones get released which tax the body and the internal organs actually get ‘tired’.

In this scenario, if we also tax ourselves physically, there is double stress. Instead of recovering, the body gets double exhausted. There have been instances of people dying suddenly when they are stressed at work and also do a lot of physical activity, sports, running, weight training. The body gets so fatigued, it cannot ‘wake up’ again when you sleep.

Solution is Moderation

There has been enough work done in this area to tell us that moderation is the key. Rather than exercising once a day, it is better to keep moving through the day. Walking for fifteen minutes four to five times a day is much more beneficial than an intense bout of jogging, squash or weight training once a day.

Doing all your housework with joy has to be found to be the best exercise. Through the day you are bending, stretching, walking, twisting and also get a good night’s sleep. The other important thing to remember is that walking is the best exercise. Unless you are in competitive sports there is no need to do anything intense.

A daily brisk walk with adequate activity through the day and healthy eating is more beneficial than formal exercising. Also the advantage of walking is that we do not need to take time out. One can walk for a few minutes whenever you get the time.

The Best Option

The best solution to remaining healthy and become fit as per your natural body type is to practice asanas. The physical step of Yoga is asanas. They are holistic in nature and work at the cellular level. They are anaerobic, aerobic, cardiovascular and weight bearing; all at the same time. At the same time, it is so gentle that rather than causing friction and degeneration, it actually protects and rejuvenates muscles and joints. After a genuine yoga asana practice, your heart rate is actually lower and there is a feeling of calmness and energy; not tiredness caused by exercising.

So try online yoga programs from wellzee and see your health improve. If you are stressed due to any reason, then first opt for our stress management programs before you proceed further. 

THE LACTOSE INTOLERANCE MYTH

By Gaurang Chandarana | March 20th, 2015 | LEAVE A COMMENT

 

What is Lactose?

All foods have sugars of some type which are unique to that particular food. The body also converts food into sugar in the body to store and use as energy. Fruits have fructose, corn has corn starch and similarly, other foods have other types of sugars. In a similar way, Lactose is a type of sugar to be found in milk. Lactose is broken down in the body by an enzyme called lactase and then absorbed by the blood.

What is Lactose Intolerance?

A very tiny proportion of people have a condition known as lactose intolerance. This means that either there is a deficiency of lactase or there is incorrect absorption of lactose even though there is enough lactase enzyme. The symptoms are bloating, gas and mild diarrhea.

Myths About Lactose Intolerance

Even if someone has an incorrect absorption problem or a lactase deficiency, it does not mean that you get these symptoms. These are dependent on a few factors as follows:

  • The quantity of milk you may have. If you have small quantities of milk a couple of times a day, nothing may happen.
  • The kind of milk products you have. It has been found that there is no problem if you have fresh buttermilk or yogurt.
  • Soft processed cheese may cause this problem so avoid having processed cheese.
  • Contaminants in the milk itself. If there is a high proportion of hormones or chemicals in the milk products then it can trigger this problem.
  • Age of the individual. The older you become, the lower should be the proportion of raw milk you should have. Add some water to milk and this problem disappears.
  • Excess protein. Excess protein has similar symptoms as lactose intolerance. Reduce or cut out non-vegetarian food rather than milk. Milk is significantly more healthy than meats. We tend to do the reverse. Also stop protein supplements if you are having excess protein.
  • Many times, a milk allergy gets mistaken to be lactose intolerance. Both of these are completely different.

Why These Myths or Misinformation?

There is a whole ‘anti-dairy’ lobby coming up which is pushing down the problem of lactose intolerance. There are three aspects to it: business, racial and lack of knowledge. The Caucasian race are prone to lactose intolerance and that too in a minority. This is also aggravated due to meat proteins. To push down this concept on other races and countries is strange. You will rarely find South Asians with these problems.

Further, the way dairy is consumed is also a problem in the West. India primarily has milk, buttermilk (chhaas) and home made yogurt or curds. The west is focused on cheese, butter and cream. No wonder then they have a problem with dairy. The other fact is that milk today is laced with hormones and chemicals which is causing a problem.

There is also a lot of push coming from the meat industry. One of the best nutritional sources (much better than meats) is milk. If we convince people to stop having milk then a lot of people will shift to meats. Further, research has shown that indigenous Indian cows give milk which is the most nutritious and healthy without any side effects. So go ahead and have milk, buttermilk (chhaas) and yogurt (curds). Just ensure you have them in moderation.

Combine these with a healthy lifestyle and a great online yoga program or balanced diet plan from wellzee for good health. 

THE GLUTEN MYTH

By Gaurang Chandarana | March 18th, 2015 | LEAVE A COMMENT

 

Digestive Disorders

Given our lifestyles these days, we do face many health challenges. Lack of physical exercise, irregular sleeping and eating habits, stress, incorrect eating and an increase in beverages, all contribute to many digestion related problems. These could be minor gastric problems, acidity, bloating, constipation, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), diarrhea or ulcers. These are in addition to problems like increase in fat content around the waist and many lifestyle diseases.

Causes For Digestive Disorders

There are many cumulative causes for digestive disorders. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Stress. If we are facing stress for a certain length of time, it impacts digestion.
  • Eating out frequently. If we eat out too often, it does cause problems.
  • Eating processed and pre-packaged foods and anything packaged off the shelf even though it is supposedly ‘healthy’.
  • Eating stale food. We all eat stale food on a daily basis. Leftovers are kept in the refrigerator and re-heated and eaten. We also make food in larger quantities and eat later. All of this is stale food.
  • Food, water, milk and beverages containing preservatives, hormones, pesticides and additives. All of these cause digestion imbalances.
  • Lack of physical activity or regular exercise is one of the main causes of digestion problems.
  • Eating a lot of heavy foods which require the digestive system to work harder. These include non-vegetarian food, bakes, baked breads, pastries, sweets, processed cheese, fried foods, refined flour, junk food, burgers, pizzas and so on.
  • Beverages like alcohol, soft drinks, energy drinks, coffee and excess tea, all upset the digestive system completely.
  • Irregular and less sleep is another culprit. Sleeping late and sleeping for lesser number of hours causes the gut to react.

The Gluten Myth

Now imagine that there are so many reasons for digestive problems and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). How does gluten enter in the picture at all? Researches are incomplete and biased and meant to show only one side of the story. This is because gluten free wheat and other products cost at least two hundred to three hundred percent more than regular products. Further, gluten problem is genuinely there for only a very tiny percentage of people and mainly Caucasians. We have generalized a non-existent problem due to smart marketing by the American processed food industry.

It is really surprising that the world is running around to go ‘gluten free’. There is no basis to this. How people get affected by wheat or gluten is as random as tossing a coin. There are many people who are not impacted at all. Why stop something which does not harm you because someone else says so?

As we have seen, the main reason is caused by incorrect and excess eating, processed foods and chemicals present in the grains and our products. If you reduce grains and non-vegetarian food and increase vegetables, the problem gets resolved. It is probably only a very tiny percentage of the population which has a genuine gluten problem.

Gluten Researches

There are many researches done on Gluten. However, they do not take into account all factors like lifestyle, stress, food habits, exercise, metabolism, genetic and racial factors and so many other variables. There are also other recent researches by credible organizations and individuals which clearly lay bare that there is no so such thing as gluten intolerance or gluten causing problems like IBS in a majority of cases. It is a combination of other causes as stated above.

Why Do Problems Occur With Wheat?

The problem occurs with wheat when we have densely made, grains based food in large quantities. Baked breads will cause a problem, but the Indian ‘phulka’ or fresh chapati is very healthy. Both are made of wheat. Similarly, if you have pasta made of cracked wheat, it may cause problems because it is processed and very dense. But upma or ‘daliya’ made of cracked and broken wheat, or suji, is healthy and does not cause any problem. This logic holds true for all grains and pulses. Eat a lot of ‘dense’ food or large quantities and it will cause IBS and other digestive problems.

The Solution

The solution to these problems is very simple. Check your lifestyle and improve it. Reduce the consumption of grains a little bit. Eat more freshly prepared food and vegetables and sleep well. In order to help you on your way, you can take our online balanced diet plan and learn how to eat more healthy. 

LESS KNOWN CAUSE FOR STRESS

By Gaurang Chandarana | March 16th, 2015 | LEAVE A COMMENT

 

Popular Causes of Stress

It has become quite popular these days to talk about stress and what to do to manage it. We mainly relate all stress only to work life or personal life. It is either pressure at work, interpersonal conflicts or expectations mismatch which seem to cause stress. On the personal front, it is more related to marital conflict or worrying about children or other family related challenges. Very recently, people have just begun to focus on lifestyle management as a way to manage stress. However, one of the most important causes of stress; mental, physical and physiological is left out completely due to lack of awareness.

One Of The Main Causes Of Stress

One of the most valid causes of stress which needs urgent attention is incorrect eating.

These days, there is quite a fad to ‘be stressed’ as it is considered to be exclusively mind related. However, there is something less known is that mental stress can also be caused by eating habits. In fact in many cases, it is not some genuine adverse situations which are causing stress. It is your dietary habits which are causing stress. It is not just about what you eat. It is also about how much you eat, when you eat and how you consume your food and drinks.

How Does Eating Cause Stress?

Imagine that you have a generally happy and ‘stress-free’ life with no major challenges. You may also be reasonably fit and involved in some physical activities as well. Now let us assume that the only weakness you have is good food or eating. So you could be doing any one or some or all of the following:

  • Eating at wrong times or in a haphazard fashion
  • Eating the wrong types of food, frequently
  • Overeating sometimes when you like something
  • Eating quickly and not giving enough attention to chewing
  • Eating while talking, working or in front of the television, computer or smart phone

Every time you do any of the above, you load your stomach and digestive organs with either a lot of food, unhealthy food, partly chewed food or giving it food when the body does not need it. In all these cases, the organs have to work much harder. It is the equivalent of forcing someone to work very hard, like forced labor.

Gradually, the body perceives this as actual stress and a life threatening situation. This makes the body go into actual stress response mode. A lot of extra chemicals and hormones are released to manage the unwanted food. Blood is diverted from other essential functions to the digestive systems. On a prolonged basis, the body is always overworking and does not have a change to recover.

The body then stores more sugar and cholesterol. It may also divert some energy from other muscles to the digestive ones. Can we now relate this with how we feel when we eat a lot or we eat at the wrong time (or heavy food and desserts)?. We feel as if we cannot move; there is no physical strength, lethargy sets in. The body wants to sleep and so does the mind.

Health suffers and the mind follows. This impacts the mind and all the other organs and a cycle of stress is created. This leads to diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac problems and even cancer. Eventually, even a perfectly happy, healthy and fit person becomes stressed due to incorrect eating and get diseases.

The Solution

The solution to this challenge is very simple. Eat foods which are simple and nutritious. Eat less and do not eat at the wrong times like late nights. Stop eating stress causing foods like non-vegetarian food, spicy and hot food and heavy food like bakes, breads, pizzas, processed food, sugar and refined flour. Avoid beverages like coffee and alcohol. If you want to know how to eat correctly, take one of the wellzee online diet plans or diet consultation to have a ‘stress-free’ and balanced diet plan. 

STRESS CAUSED BY THE MIND

By Gaurang Chandarana | March 13th, 2015 | LEAVE A COMMENT

 

What Is Stress?

Stress is a condition where the body or the organism is faced with a very severe or life threatening situation. The human body has evolved over centuries and thousands of years as a response to external environmental factors and situations. These include diseases, natural calamities, conflicts and lack of food. The main factor determining all bodily mechanisms, functions and responses is survival. Therefore any perceived threat to survival leads to a stress response. The situation causing this is called, ‘stressor’. When such a situation arises, the body gears up quickly to face this stressor or adverse situation.

What Happens During Stress?

Imagine a mainly agrarian or hunter – gatherer human, a few thousand years ago. Now imagine that he has sensed a dangerous animal like a lion or tiger near him. How would he react? The entire body automatically ensures that all his internal systems go on the alert. This alertness enables this human to either defend himself, attack the animal or run away.

During this stage, certain changes are brought about in the body. A lot of the body’s systems which are not urgent are shut down; like the digestive systems and sexual systems. There is in an instant release of glucose to provide great amounts of energy. Stimulating hormones are released to bypass pain and induce hyperactivity and alertness.

In extreme cases, the human may also lighten the body by given up excess water and solids in the form of urination, sweat or excretion. Basically, everything unwanted is shut down and all emergency systems are activated. This helps the human to run, fight or defend himself better. Pain and hunger is ignored to stop interference with the important activity of saving himself.

What Happens In The Modern Time

This is the same thing that happens to humans even today. The only difference is that in most cases, there are no life threatening situations on a daily basis. The body reacts in the same way when we get angry, irritated, hurt or when things do not happen the way we want them to. If we do not get an increment or promotion, we react in the same way. When someone inadvertently pushes us on a bus or train, we get angry. When we have fights with a partner or arguments during work; all of them are registered as stressors and the body fights in the only way it knows: by activating all the stress mechanisms.

The body does not recognize which situation is life threatening or which situation is not. So what is happening is that the body and the mind go for ‘overkill’ because they cannot differentiate between the severity of various situations.

Results Of Overkill

The results of this same stress response by the body are drastic. The body remains in a constant state of anxiety. It has been seen that stress response mechanisms get activated very fast; even within a second. However, to ‘cool down’ or reduce these take between a few hours to a few days. During this entire period, all the systems in the body remain in a state of stress. This impairs digestion, sleep, sexual functions, physical abilities and so on. At yet another level, there are elevated levels of hormones and glucose. All of these over a period of time lead to diseases like high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, cardiac problems, ulcers, asthma and some forms of cancers.

The Culprit Is The Mind

The culprit in this entire game is the human mind. It is only based on what the mind perceives, that the body reacts. It is in very rare situations that the mind gets bypassed. An example is fire. When we touch something hot, we instantly pull off our hand. For most other situations, the mind does a quick assessment and decides whether something is life threatening or not. Because this process takes place quickly (fraction of a second), we are not aware that the mind has done an assessment.

Control The Mind

More often than not, it is the perception of situations which gives us stress. If someone is rich, they have genuine stress. Even people who are well placed in life are stressed. The trick is to convince the mind to change its perception of situations, even though it is apparently difficult to change perceptions.

However, there are many things which can be done to gradually change this situation. Leading a balanced lifestyle is the key. In addition, follow some hobby or passion on a regular basis. This itself gives a lot of benefits. Most importantly there are many yoga techniques which can help reprogram the brain. These are to be found in our stress management programs. In addition you can ask us questions and we will resolve your queries for free through our contact sheet

STRESS DEFINES PERSONALITY

By Gaurang Chandarana | March 12th, 2015 | LEAVE A COMMENT

 

Stress Is Integral To Life

Stress is a part of life. In fact it would not be an exaggeration to say that if there is no stress, there is no life. Or to be more accurate, different situations have the probability to cause stress every single moment of your life. Stress is nothing but the perception of the degree of threat. If we perceive something to be threatening (even unconsciously), the body activates all stress response mechanisms.

Continuous activation of these stress response mechanisms leads to internal fatigue and long terms metabolic and hormonal changes impacting the entire internal body and all the systems. This adverse impact leads to various minor or major diseases.

Body Strategy To Deal With Stress

The human mind and body has various strategies to deal with stress. This is known as ‘coping’ with stress. These strategies are based on many factors like:

  • Inherent nature of the individual
  • Past experiences
  • State of mind at the time of the stressful situation
  • Ability to genuinely and consciously relax.

This response to stress or the strategies deployed are therefore known as coping. How we cope with perceived adverse situations is a strategy.

How Are Stress Strategies Implemented

An integral part of stress response is coping with the stress (psychologically). Based on an appraisal of the situation, the mind will implement a stress response or reaction. The body will then follow this decision response or reaction to support the mind’s decisions. The body does this by making rapid physiological alterations. These are so rapid that in many situations, physiological changes occur within a few seconds or even within a fraction of a second. This process is geared towards reducing the threat perception as well as the state of mental and physiological arousal. This is done by undertaking an action or set of actions to bring forth a positive result.

‘From a stress physiology point of view the actual action or performance is not important. What matters is the perception of being able to cope that reduces stress’.

What the above statement means is that the mind should think that it can cope up easily. Actually speaking, no action may be initiated. Based on this understanding and past experiences, the mind and body builds up a pattern to perceive or ‘cope’ with stressors (stress causing situations or elements).

How Coping Shapes Your Personality

The mind first tends to deploy coping strategies that have worked in the past. The more the same strategy is employed, the more ingrained it becomes. Depending on the way an individual successfully copes, the mind will store and use this as a generalized coping strategy. This style becomes relatively stable and starts being viewed as a ‘personality trait’ for that person. Some examples of traits which build up and become part of your entire personality are given below:

Aggressive or dominant – Many individuals always react in an aggressive fashion and try to dominate. If a few times in the past, the individual gets his or her way by being aggressive, it gets ‘stored’ or hard coded in the mind. In most situations, the standard response would be to bull doze, insult or get angry at others. This sets up a cycle of perception and responses, making the person ‘hot headed’, dominant or egoistic.

Meek or Timid – There are individuals who respond or react by trying to ‘submit’ in the hope that the situation will get resolved. Such individuals will tend to be looked at as meek or timid, even though they may be intelligent.

Indifferent – Many a times, indifference is deployed. It is genuinely ignoring a situation assuming it will resolve itself or thinking that it is not too important. Such individuals may come across as aloof and indifferent.

Hopelessness – this is a condition where the mind perceives (correctly or incorrectly) that most responses will reach a negative result. This means that the individual is convinced that whatever he or she does, there will be no improvement in the prevailing undesired situation. A prolonged state of hopelessness may lead to depression. These individuals are the sad looking ones with a fatalistic outlook. Alternatively, they may be very lively but with suicidal tendencies.

Similarly, there could be various other personalities which get ‘shaped’ by stress and how we react or respond. Once we are aware, we can bring about some changes to make our coping strategies more balanced and situation specific. This will help us to avoid getting ‘hard coded’.

How To Cope Better and Change Your Personality

There are various coping theories put forward over the years; some with a lot of technical terms and jargon and yet others which are simpler to understand. Most of them address the ‘why’ and ‘what’ theoretically, but none really address the practical aspects of how to cope. This is addressed practically and effectively by our stress management handbook (which is available free) and practical stress management programs. Sign up with wellzee to become a better individual.

 

STRESS IDENTIFICATION MADE EASY

By Gaurang Chandarana | March 10th, 2015 | LEAVE A COMMENT

 

Are We Stressed Or Not?

There are many a times we may feel that we are stressed and there are times we may be relaxed. However, it does not necessarily mean that we are not stressed when we think we are relaxed. Also the reverse is not true. We may be having an adverse situation but we could be coping well and actually not have stress.

There are also signs of slowly building up stress also called, ‘creeping stress’. Sometimes, it goes on for months and builds up into a disease or behavioral issue. We can also have a situation where we get so used to stress that it becomes part of our ‘normal’ life. This is the most dangerous form as we think everything is fine whereas the body is completely stressed. 

Noticeable Stress

The symptoms of an immediate stressful situation are instantly noticeable and can also be realized by the individual during or immediately after the event. Examples are a conflict, anger, anxiety, fear etc. These feelings and emotions also visibly subside as soon as the event is over. However, the impact of stress caused due to these feelings linger on from a few hours to a few days. We do not realize this but the way the body’s mechanism works is very simple; stress sets in almost instantly in terms of the physiological response but recedes slowly. Sometimes it does not recede if you do not stop thinking about it.

Creeping Stress

However, the symptoms of slowly creeping and prolonged stress are less visible. In fact, an individual may not even realize that he or she is undergoing prolonged periods of stress because they get so used to it that it even becomes a ‘comfort zone’ for them. This can go on for months or years and suddenly one wonders why were they afflicted with some disease even though they had an apparently normal or healthy lifestyle.

The symptoms are easy to spot if one is always aware of even the minor changes in one’s body, thoughts, eating patterns, emotions or behavior. We miss these because a lot of times we ignore these changes or signs or go into denial or ignoring mode.

Some Signs Of Stress

The desire to have just that little more alcohol at times or that gradual reduction in sleep, increase in beverages, propensity to get more irritable or just a little bit more angry (and defending it by telling yourself how exasperating the world is), are some of the signs of creeping stress.

Another important cause and result of stress is so called, ‘perfectionism’ and having ‘high standards’. Anyone driving themselves or others on this path is causing a lot of genuine stress to themselves as well as to others. In short, anything adverse or different from what you were (or what you were doing before) and what you are now (or doing now) are indicators of chronic stress.

Symptoms of Stress

The symptoms of stress are felt at various levels. We need to be consciously aware to identify them in different areas of life. Some of these are given below to understand what is happening.

a. Sensation

Sensations are the feelings we sense inside the body and internal physical discomfort. Some of these are increased heart rate, headaches, nausea, aches and pain, tremors, fainting, numbness, dry mouth, stomach cramps, excess sweating, indigestion, frequent urination and palpitations.

b. Cognitive Feelings

These are internal feelings which take deep roots and trouble us a lot. These are represented by statements like, “I must do well”, “Life should not be like this”, “I must have what I want”, “This is terrible, I cannot take this any longer”, “Everyone should like me”, “I feel betrayed”, “I have to get back”, and many more like these.

c. Physical Aspects

The body also gives obvious physical signs which need to be paid attention to. Some of these are getting fatigued faster, feeling of lethargy, getting more injury prone, greater propensity for inflammations, pulls and sprains while doing the same level of activities as before. Of course this may not hold true for a large age gap. One cannot be at the same physical levels at sixty as at forty or twenty, but if these symptoms are seen at say, thirty five, but were not there when you were thirty three, then it could be stress.

d. Health Related

Some of the health indicators are also signs of stress; increased frequency of colds, coughs, fever, flu, allergies and gastrointestinal problems. Yet others are high blood pressure, fatigue, heart problems, decreased sexual activity and lower immunity.

e. Diet related

Adverse changes in eating and drinking patterns indicate stress. Examples are overeating, under eating, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating or ‘mood eating’, loss of appetite, increase in tea and coffee, increase in alcohol intake, resorting to prescription drugs, smoking or other psychotropic substances.

f. Behavioral Aspects

Changes in behavior, even for short durations are sure signs of stress. These could be avoidance issues, sleep problems, insomnia, time management issues, irritability, restlessness, speech problems and becoming accident prone due to lack of attention or awareness. Personal grooming may suffer or conversely, one may fret excessively over grooming and how they look. Getting bored frequently is also a definite sign of stress.

g. Emotional States

Emotional issues which surface tell us if we are stressed. These are also definite signs of stress and not of any disease. Some of these are frequent bouts of anxiety or depression (however mild), anger, guilt, shame, embarrassment, feeling hurt, jealousy, ‘feel like dying’, ‘feel like crying’, becoming moody, a feeling of emptiness, aggression, feeling of worthlessness and boredom.

h. Work Related Symptoms

Most of the stress related symptoms emerge at the workplace. Becoming suspicious, withdrawn, gossiping, aggressive, bossy, unable to focus on work, missing your own work plans on a more frequent basis, staying at work for longer hours, feel like running away from work, etc. are all signs of stress.

h. Interpersonal Relationships Changes

Interpersonal issues are at the forefront of stress. It is not that these issues give us stress. It is the other way around. Stress is the cause for interpersonal issues. Some of these could be; becoming more passive or more aggressive, more introvert or more extrovert, become a loner and timid and withdrawn or become unduly competitive, gossiping increases, becoming manipulative or secretive. In short any interpersonal behavior which is not ‘you’ and you start exhibiting, is due to stress. At times positive changes occur due to a conscious effort and make you feel better. Such efforts should not be confused with stress.

So we can see that if we are aware, we can figure out if we are going through stress. If you need more help than you can write to us or take one of our wellzee stress management programs

TOP TEN STRESS BUSTERS

By Gaurang Chandarana | March 9th, 2015 | LEAVE A COMMENT

All of us the world over seem to be more stressed than ever before. Everyone is focusing on health, wellness and diet. However, the most crucial aspect is often forgotten or not paid enough attention. This is stress management. Why do we say that this is vital? There are various studies done across the world which bring out the following:

  • 90% of all young adults and teenagers have stress.
  • 80% to 90% of all adults in all age groups have stress.
  • This incidence of stress is common across age groups, social groups, economic strata, countries and races.
  • The health impact of stress is getting more significant with each passing day. More than 80% of all diseases are caused or triggered due to stress. Some of these are cardiac problems, cholesterol related problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, ulcers, PCOS, asthma, migraines, body aches and even some types of cancers.
  • Stress is probably the most significant challenge to the human race; as much as environmental and social issues.

SO WHAT IS STRESS?

Stress is the body’s response to some external condition, situation, catalyst or pressure which it views as a threat to it. The threat could be big or small. Could be fatal or not. It is enough that the body views it as negative. This results in upsetting the body’s internal functions causing various problems. These problems impact us negatively at the mental and physical levels.

EMOTIONS A PRIME CAUSE

Even though adverse situations today are not really life threatening, the body does not understand that and treats anything adverse as life threatening and reacts accordingly.

Example – Someone inadvertently pushes you on a subway. Your first instant reaction is anger or irritation. Your first instinct is to react and ‘tick off’ the person who has banged into you. This is a complete ‘non-event’ but the body will still react as if it is threatening and put into gear various survival mechanisms.

All such reactions and emotions of irritation, anger, anxiety, fear, sadness, need for control and power, greed and excessive ego lead to real and actual physiological stress. This in turn leads to various diseases. 

HOW DO WE MANAGE STRESS, INSTANTLY?

Stress management is a long term approach requiring lifestyle changes, discipline and attitude shifts. These can be achieved by various techniques and by practicing true Yoga principles. However the bigger challenge is to manage stress instantly when faced with a sudden stress causing situation. If you are very angry, anxious or fearful, we also need to do something on an immediate basis. The following are the TOP 10 WELLZEE STRESS MANAGEMENT ‘THINGS TO DO‘. Each of these come with some guidelines. Please read them carefully and follow them to make a positive impact.

The Observation Stroll

  • Stroll slowly around where you are. Be it the office, home, campus, cafeteria, street, etc. Consciously look for things which you did not notice before or something new.
  • Try to look for at least 10 new things in 5 minutes and try to remember them. It could be anything under the sun. 

Count Your Heartbeat Manually

  • This is essentially your pulse rate. Now don’t use any implement or phone app for this. Do it yourself. Find and feel your pulse either on your wrist or at the side of the neck just below the bone area. You will find this throbbing vessel normally straight below the outer edge of your eye in the neck region. If you feel around a bit, you will find the correct spot. Now count the number of beats continuously for 5 minutes. If you miss a single beat, start all over again.
  • Keep noting down the counts for every minute. E.g. 100 for the first minute, 90 for the second minute etc; and total. Maintain a tracker for this. Do this each time you are suddenly or severely in stress or anger. After every 3 such instances, keep observing the differences and trends in the pulse rate between minutes at a given time and between various situations. It will be quite interesting for you to see how your body responds.

Listen To Selected Instrumental Music

  • If you are listening to instrumentals, listen to something which has a rhythm or pace of less than 60 beats per minute. Ensure it is something soothing. Make sure there are no electronic sounds in the music. You have to hum along with the music.

Listen To Selected Songs

  • The number of beats in the song should be less than 60 beats per minute. Ensure that the lyrics are motivational, positive, non-violent and contain no abusive language. You have to hum along or sing softly.

Equal Breathing

  • Practice equal breathing. You should ideally do this sitting cross legged. You could also do this sitting on your chair or on a bench or even in a bus or train. Opt for our stress management program to learn these and various other techniques.

Focus On Your Breath

  • You should ideally do this sitting cross legged. You could also do this sitting on your chair or on a bench or even in a bus or train. You can opt for one of our Yoga programs to understand equal breathing.

Practice Trataka

  • You should do this in a stationary place only. You should ideally do this sitting cross legged. You could also do this sitting on your chair or on a bench. Visit WWW.WELLZEE.COM for our stress management programs & how to practice Trataka in the correct way.

Playing Cards With A Real Deck

  • Play solitaire, blackjack or any other card game with yourself. Keep real playing cards and don’t play the computer versions of these games.
  • Also try making card houses.

Games; Non Electronic & Non Computer

  • Explore games (but no online versions) like checkers, chess (you play both sides), scrabble or sudoku. Play with a lot of focus and as if you have participated in a real contest.

Hobby Or Interest

  • If you have some hobby or interest, get immediately engaged in it. Sketching, designing, practicing a language, playing an instrument, writing, singing, anything which is ‘offline’.
  • Shopping, eating, gossiping, sex, movies, serials, television and social media do not qualify as hobbies or interests.

These are the top things you could do when you are facing an adverse situation. These are instant things to do. However, as mentioned, long term stress management requires long terms solutions. If you want to know all about stress and how to manage it well, you can get your FREE STRESS MANAGEMENT HANDBOOK ON WELLZEE.COM when you sign up. 

WHAT IS PRANAYAMA

By Gaurang Chandarana | March 6th, 2015 | LEAVE A COMMENT

Myths About Pranayama

There are many explanations and descriptions given about Pranayama. There are also various benefits attributed to Pranayama. We have a whole range of teachers, ‘gurus’ and websites which are prescribing some or the other form of breathing techniques and labeling them. We also have a lot of people thinking that ‘Pranayama’ is some sort of magic pill, where all our problems will vanish by doing one or the other form of breathing techniques.

What Is Pranayama

Prana is the cosmic energy which encompasses everything in the Universe. When this energy is bound inside living creatures, it is described as bio energy. It is the same energy which makes the organs function. There are five main types of Prana and many other minor ones. Some of them regulate breathing, circulation, digestion, excretion and procreation. However, these are not different ‘Pranas’. It is the same Prana which is functioning in different parts of the body and we give them different names.

When we start controlling this bio-energy, we start controlling the mind. This is called ‘ayama’. It is not just control, but also extension and expansion to ‘connect’ with the cosmic energy outside the physical body. Since there is a close connection with the mind and respiration, Pranayama is normally associated with respiration control.

This control on breathing helps control the mind. The calmer and more concentrated is the mind, the more regulated is breathing. This is a cycle which sets in. The beginning point is external and conscious control of the breath.

Prana Controls Lifespan

Lifespan of humans is not measured by time, i.e. number of days or years. It is measured by the number of breaths we take. So the slower the breaths, the greater is the lifespan. Slowing or controlling the breath also have many other physiological benefits, which is making it attractive to many prospective practitioners. However, this is a side effect and does not benefit most people, unless the foundation is prepared.

Purpose Of Pranayama

Pranayama is the fourth step as mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali; in the eight limbed path or Ashtanga Yoga. Even in Hatha Yoga scriptures, it is clearly an advanced step. What this means is that unless the first steps are mastered, Pranayama should not be practiced. Even if it is, it may not help. Pranayama done with a restless mind or without physical conditioning and steadiness and attitudes mastery, does not help. In fact it may harm the practitioner.

The first three steps are Yama, Niyama and Asana. So it is clear that all of these have to be practiced regularly. Only when the body and mind is ready, can one proceed towards Pranayama. In fact, it is said that Pranayama should be commenced only when one can sit in a single posture with complete steadiness of mind and body for three hours at a stretch.

Pranyama Taught Today

What is being taught as Pranayama these days is mostly basic breath regulation routines and techniques, which are more in the nature of preparation. The entire body and respiratory system has to be strengthened and well prepared to practice Pranayama.

If we do not have the correct lifestyle and attitudes and do not practice asanas, Pranayama has no meaning. In fact, true Pranayama practiced in a restless state and without preparing the foundation can even be harmful. We see a lot of people today who do no asanas at all, but sit and breathe in certain ways. This does not help. You might as well not do it and waste time. We also see people practicing breathing techniques in combination with physical exercises and at different times. All of this is counter productive.

First Steps To Pranayama

All of this does not mean that we get disheartened. We should take the first few steps. The best way to do this is by beginning to practice asanas and taking credible online yoga classes. Some of the most effective practices are to be found in wellzee yoga programs. Sign up for one of them today and be on the path to Ashtanga Yoga.