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Health Tips
Stay healthy by reading wellness advice from our top specialists.

Morning snarls, rush hour traffic, and the pollution can weigh the best of us down, even before reaching the work place, drawing from our productivity. The result is, we reach work half tired, irritated and ready to unleash our wrath on the slightest provocation. But what if there were ways to retain the loss of energy and simple exercises that you can practice while stuck in a thick unrelenting traffic! Here are seven yoga exercises from yoga expert Kamlesh Barwal, author of the book, Log Off To Log In, that you can do right at your steering wheel to relax and find peace in the moment.Seated Head Massage
Keep the spine erect and the head straight
Breathing in, raise the right arm
Place the palm on top of the head
Gently massage the top of the head, in a circular motion, in a clockwise direction
Keep breathing smoothly and deeply throughout the exercise
Feel the tension in the head region easing
Feel more relaxed
Blink, Squeeze, Eyes Open Wide
Keep the spine erect and the head straight
Close your eyes
Blink your eyes rapidly about 10-15 times
Blink your eyes slowly about 10-15 times
Shut your eyes as tightly as possible
Open your eyes as widely as possible
Repeat the action a few more times
Keep breathing smoothly and deeply throughout the exercise
Feel the tension around the eyes being released
Jaw Release
Keep the spine erect and the head straight
Place the tips of your three fingers on the cheekbones
Look for muscles that make knots
Keeping your mouth relaxed, press firmly and massage the knots in a circular motion
Pressing down firmly, run your fingers, down along the jaw line towards your chin
Repeat the action a few more times
Keep breathing smoothly and deeply throughout the exercise
Feel the tightness in the face easing out
Neck Rolls
Keep your spine, neck and head erect
Breathing in, raise your chin up and take the head back
Feel the stretch on your throat and the compression in your neck muscles
Hold the posture for a few seconds
Breathing out, bring your chin towards the chest
Rotate your head slowly a few times in both clockwise and anti-clockwise motion
Feel the relaxation in your neck
Ear to Shoulder Stretch
Keep your spine, neck and head erect
Breathing in, raise your shoulders to your ears
Hold the posture
Breathing out, drop your shoulders
Repeat the action a few times Feel the muscles being squeezed in your upper back
Feel the energy move up as the spine is being stretched
Quick Body Shake
Sit straight and tall
Keep your spine, neck and head in a straight line
Bring your hands near your chest
Relax and loosen your wrists, shoulders, and head
Shake your wrists, body and head together (more like when you dance)
Feel the stiffness leaving your body
Simple Seated Twist
Sit straight
Keep your spine, neck and head in a straight line
Breathe in and twist your body towards the right
Twist your spine as much as you can
Stay in this position for 5 seconds
Breathe out and come back to your previous position
Repeat on the other side
Investing 5-10 minutes in such short Yoga breaks can work wonders for the body and mind, says Kamlesh Barwal also CEO, Sri Sri School of Yoga. So, the next time you are stuck in a jam and find your head blowing a little steam, do these exercises and arrive at your destination with a lighter mind.

Anti-Stress Diet Tips

Dr Nisha Manikantan, Founder Director at Sri Sri Ayurveda and author of Ayurveda Simplified shares some food tips that you can use before you start out, or binge on while stuck on the road!

- Fruits such as strawberries, orange, guava and pineapple have large amounts of Vitamin C and are extremely beneficial against stress. The nutrients present in them help reduce fatigue.

- Beans and peas are good foods to fight against stress because they contain high levels of tryptophan. This amino acid helps in the formation of serotonin, a substance that induces a sense of well-being and happiness.

- Bananas are rich in tryptophan too. They also have a type of protein that is converted to serotonin. In addition, they are loaded with Vitamin B and other nutrients such as potassium that work wonders to combat anxiety levels.

- Cereals such as oats and brown rice are rich in lean protein, vitamin B complex, amino acids and essential vitamins - all of which help combat stress and help stay focused and balanced.

- Milk too has a calming effect on the body. Lactium, a protein found in milk helps reduce levels of cortisol (stress hormone).

- Almonds are known to be a super food for the brain. They are packed with antioxidants and are known to relax the muscles and reduce stress.

The Art of Living's international team of experts has introduced the knowledge and real essence of Yoga and Ayurveda to millions all over the globe, not just as a set of physical exercises and diet regime but as a deeper science that discusses them as a union of the mind, body, and soul.

In the words of Yogacharya Anoop of the Chaitanya Foundation, the traditional form of yoga focuses on correcting and strengthening the nervous system in order to benefit the body. Edit out the pauses, the breaks and trim down the necessity to hold a posture and you get Power Yoga. The practice entails doing asanas back-to-back, without stopping.

"The traditional form of yoga requires you to focus on breathing and holding a posture for a number of breaths. This not only affects the nervous system but has an impact on your hormones as well. Traditional yogic practice aims at cleaning and fixing the body inside out. Power Yoga, on the other hand, focuses on the exterior - weight-loss and muscle build up. It is fast paced, pumps up your heart rate, induces sweating and therefore facilitates rapid weight drop," noted Yogacharya Anoop, Chaitanya Foundation, Mediyoga.

It is often believed that Power Yoga gives little importance to breathing, which would be a grave misconception. A leading Delhi based yoga expert, Seema Sondhi explains that breathing always remains at the core of all yogic practices.

"Whether traditional or its power variant, yoga is always performed in sync with your breathing. It is a simple mechanism of exhaling and inhaling while getting in and out of a posture. Power Yoga need not be fast paced. You can just increase the number of repetitions or play around with the duration you hold a pose for and it turns into a dynamic activity," she noted. Essentially, all forms of yoga are associated with enhancing flexibility, reducing stress, weight-loss, and muscle strengthening. Power Yoga is just a way to bring together the many yogic postures and design them in a way to render a cardio, sweat-breaking effect.

The simple idea behind the concept of Power Yoga is to create heat in the body. Along with increasing the reps and the intensity of each pose, it is teamed with the practice of ujjai breathing. Alternatively know as glottis breathing, Ujjai breathing is a technique wherein you exhale filling up your belly first followed by the lower rib cage, the upper chest and finally the throat. It creates heat in the body and facilitates weight-loss.

Surya namaskar pranayam or the Sun Salutation is usually the most practiced posture in a Power Yoga class. It is a series of asanas which when done in repetition can leave you gasping for breath. "When you attend a Power Yoga class you can ideally expect a series of various yoga poses tied together and done one after the other to exercise the entire body, Surya namaskar is definitely the standard posture all across. In fact, Power Yoga comprises a tailor-made routine of postures to suit different body types and requirements," Mangesh Trivedi, Vedic Power Yoga, Delhi.

Besides Suryan amaskar, practicing the Warrior poses one after the other also make for a great Power Yoga routine.

Power Yoga can be termed as a dynamic activity that brings together traditional yoga and amps it up to suit contemporary preferences. "This practice is good for muscle build up as we work with our own body weight. It is great to tone the body; however, it doesn't come with the relaxing and calming effects of traditional yoga," noted Anju Kalhan, a Delhi based yoga expert.

Never forget to warm up before beginning your session. Cooling down is equally important. Stretch your body to ensure releasing lactic acid formulation and alleviate muscle soreness. Get in touch with a certified yoga expert to know what suits your body the best.

What is PCOD?

PCOD or Polycystic Ovarian Disease is a disease described as multiple cysts in the ovaries. Cysts are small sacs filled with fluid. These cysts are the result of changes in the normal menstrual cycle, because of which the ovary becomes large and produces great amount of androgen and estrogenic hormones. Polycystic ovaries are larger than the normal ovaries. It is also known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Being an ovarian disease, PCOD causes problems during pregnancy, menstrual cycle, diabetes and cardiac function. The disease is likely to get transferred from the mother to her offspring. Here's what you need to know about PCOD and natural ways to reduce the symptoms of the condition.

Symptoms of PCOD

It includes excess hair on the body, decrease in breast size, deeper voice, thin hair, acne, weight gain, pelvic pain, anxiety or depression, infertility. PCOD is on the rise these days among young girls because of stress, obesity, unhealthy eating habits, anxiety, depression, no exercise, and inadequate sleep.

If you have been facing any such problem, you can see the doctor to diagnose your problem. The doctor will perform a pelvic examination such as blood tests or ultrasound to begin with your treatment. The treatment varies from woman to woman seeing their symptoms. Every woman with PCOD should take a healthy diet and do regular exercises. The treatment focuses on inducing ovulation to help them conceive.

Weight loss mostly is a powerful treatment for the patients of PCOD. Increased physical activities like aerobics, dance, jogging, running,etc can help a lot in reducing weight. Vitamins and minerals supplements can prove to be helpful for the PCOD patients to overcome the symptoms. Most of the patients become obese because fatty tissues are hormonally active and produce estrogen, which hinders ovulation. Surgery may be recommended for some women if the PCOD exceeds the normal level or is more problematic. The problem can’t be cured but ingredients like cinnamon, flaxseed, apple cider vinegar and fenugreek can help, or taking fresh foods and salads, avoiding coffee and alcohol, drinking adequate quantity of water, avoiding junk food, etc.

Yoga Exercise for PCOD

Apart from the above mentioned remedies, you can also resort to yoga. Here are five asanas that can help -

1. Kapalbhati

Kapalbhati comes from the word 'Kapal' (forehead) and 'Bhati' which means 'to shine'. It is believed that the regular practice of the exercise brings a natural glow to the face. It is a shat kriya, which means it's a form of a cleansing technique that removes toxic air and toxins from the body. It involves you sitting still in a yogic posture while the breathing exercise takes over the game.

2. Yoni Mudra

Yoni means uterus or womb and this gesture is named the Yoni Mudra because the person who practices it regularly has no external contact with the world, resembling a baby in the uterus. It helps in decluttering the mind.

3. Pawanmukt Asana

This is also known as the Wind Release Pose and it is excellent for stomach and digestive problems. It is known to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles and increase blood circulation.

4. Halasana

'Hal' stands for 'plow' and 'Asana' stands for 'pose'. Halasana or 'the plough pose' takes its name from the farming instrument, plough, used by farmers. Halasana is usually performed after Sarvangasana, which is basically a shoulder stand.

5. Dhanurasana

Dhanurasana, also known as the bow pose, is a yoga exercise which is credited to relieving stress and anxiety, among other benefits.

Asthma is a chronic (long-term) disease of the respiratory system, which affects the lungs and the airways that carry air to and from the lungs. A person suffering from asthma has difficulty breathing due to the constriction of these airways. Inflammation and mucous in the airways (bronchi) can make the patient wheeze.The most common symptoms that can be seen in an asthma patients are coughing (especially after a long laugh or exercise), difficulty in breathing, tightness of the chest, shortness of breath, wheezing or whistling sound when breathing.Causes of Asthma:

Some of the causes of asthma include pollen, mites, food related allergies and environmental irritants like dust and smoke. In some cases, stress can be a trigger too. Not everybody gets asthma due to the same reasons and the triggers may be different for different people.

The fact that India contributes 10% to the total number of asthma patients globally is a cause of concern. It can affect people of any age group.

Some of the factors that may make you susceptible to asthma are:
- Genetic: If several of your family members suffer from Asthma then you too might be genetically pre-disposed to develop Asthma.
- If you are overweight
- If you are exposed to seasonal allergens like pollen.
- If you are a smoker or exposed to second-hand smoke.
- If you are allergic to certain foods or synthetic food additives like colours and preservative

There is no cure for asthma and the treatments revolve around reducing symptoms and the chances for a fresh asthma attack.

Foods for Asthma Patients

An asthma patient should try and switch from animal protein to plant protein and eat ginger and turmeric regularly. The patient should also avoid fried food, smoking, alcohol, cheese, food additives, processed foods and focus on an organic food diet. But that doesn't mean you can't live a normal life, you just need to be a little more cautious than the others. Have an optimistic approach and live your life to the fullest.

According to Dr. Pushpa of Saini Yoga and Meditation, an asthma patient should do steam inhalation every day, take half a tsp of cinnamon powder twice a day and avoid cold fruits like orange and banana.

Yoga for Asthma

Here are some yoga exercises suggested by her that will help asthma patients get relief from their asthmatic problems:

1. Bharastika

This yoga breathing paranayam is known as breath of fire. In this asana, both Inhalation and exhalation are forced. Bharastika comprises of exhaling and inhaling in order to provide complete oxygen to our body. This asana gives strength to lungs, helps in allergies, asthma, respiratory diseases, improves immune system and helps in common cold.

2. Anulom Vilom Pranayama

It is a breathing exercise which very easy to do and is very effective too. It helps in cases of stress and depression. It even improves the functioning of lungs. It is an efficient practice for asthma patients.

3. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama

This is also known as Alternate Nostril Breathing. This is the next level of Anulom Vilom pranayama. Nadis are the subtle energy channels in our body which tend to get blocked because of unhealthy lifestyle, stress and physical trauma. Shodhan means cleaning and unblocking the nadis. This asana helps you release tensions, stress and contributes in keeping the mind calmer.

4. Kapalbhati Pranayama

This asana is a breathing technique which helps in the improvement of respiratory system functioning.

5. SavasanaThis is like a sleeping pose which helps in providing relaxation to the mind and body. It improves concentration, treats insomnia, improves mental health, and relaxes muscles.

There's nothing better than yoga to treat diseases painlessly or without any side effects.

You may agree, in this fast paced life, we all need to slow down a little and spare some time to relieve the constant pressure and stress of winning the rat race and calm our mind, body and soul. This is when Restorative Yoga comes into play and provides a sense of physical and mental balance. For centuries, yoga has been a practice of choice by millions worldwide for regaining mental and physical strength. According to a survey in the year 2016, conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) - there has been a spurt in the number of Indians taking yoga by up to 30 percent, most of whom have been inspired by various celebrities and the media attention that it has garnered. Similarly, according to the release 2016 Yoga in America Study Conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, the number of US yoga practitioners has increased to more than 36 million, up from 20.4 million in 2012.

Looking at the whopping increase of yoga practitioners in India and the US, we now know how people are preferring yoga over gym or any other activity. Considering the sedentary and pressured lifestyles today, restorative yoga is your savior and how.What is Restorative Yoga?

With the influx of so many yoga styles, each conveying their own blend of postures, meditation, relaxation and philosophy, restorative yoga is one such yogic exercise that leads its practitioner towards a more healing experience that can help usher them into the world of peace and quiet. Restorative yoga generally relies on the use of props including pillows, blocks and straps to support your body in a full, comfortable and long stretch. According to renowned yoga expert, Priyanka Devi Gupta, this age0old practice is especially beneficial in today’s day and age. “Restorative yoga is extremely beneficial for people having a hectic life and helps in slowing down the process. It helps you connect with your mind and body and also lets you focus on your breath.”

This sequence consists of typically five to six poses that allow you to take rest and relax on the given prop. Held for five minutes or more, restorative yoga comprises light twists, gentle backbends and seated forward folds.

How to Practice Restorative Yoga?

Here are five poses of restorative yoga and the steps involved in attaining these poses:

1. Legs-up-the-wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

This pose is a passive and supported variation of the shoulder stand. You will be required to rest your legs vertically on a wall as you lie on the floor. You would also require a thick blanket for support. This is a comfortable pose that will help you relax deeper. It aids mild depression and anxiety as it calms you down, further curing insomnia and other sleeping disorders.

2. Corpse Pose (Savasana or Mrtasana)

Savasana or Corpse pose is synonymous to its name, which means to essentially place the body in a neutral position. This pose lets you lie flat on your back, preferably without any prop, with your eyes closed. You are required to release all the energy down and loosen the body to relax, while moving your attention to different parts of the body. If done well, this posture can help bring you to a meditative state of rest that helps in repairing tissues and cells and in relieving stress. It also helps reduce blood pressure, anxiety and sleeping disorders.

3. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Balasana or Child’s pose derives its name from two Sanskrit phrases, ‘child’ and ‘comfortable seat’. This pose involves kneeling on the floor by touching the toes and sitting on your heels, about as wide as your hips. Balasana is a deep forward bend, where the torso rests on the thighs. This pose helps in stretching the hips, thighs and ankles. It calms the brain and reduces stress and fatigue.

4. Reclining Hero Pose (Supta Virasana)

Reclining hero pose or supta virasana is a reclining pose. To begin with, kneel on the floor, with your thighs perpendicular to the floor, and touch the inner thighs together by bringing knees close to each other. Slide your feet apart, slightly wider than your hips. Once you get the position right, start lowering your torso towards the floor. Start by reclining back slowly. Your body is supported by your arms as you start going closer to the floor. Ensure that you are not in any way overstraining your muscles. This pose is excellent for aiding constipation and builds stamina. It also helps in eliminating anger and aggression.

5. Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

Reclining Bound Angle pose or Supta Baddha Konasana aka Reclined Cobbler’s Pose is deep relaxing position that requires you to lie down comfortable on your back with legs extended. Bend the knees to bring soles of your feet together to touch. Let the legs fall open on both sides. The natural tendency of the pose is to push the knees towards the floor. This pose stimulates abdominal organs like the ovaries and prostate gland, bladder and kidneys. It improves blood circulation and helps relieve the symptoms of stress, menstruation and menopause.

Priyanka explains, “Although all the poses are super beneficial, the corpse pose, child’s pose and reclining bound angle pose are super relaxing in their own way. Initially, it will be difficult to focus on your breath as random thoughts keep distracting the mind, however, with practice you will know the difference.”

What are the Benefits of Restorative Yoga?

Here are some of the benefits that restorative yoga has to offer to all the yoga practitioners:

1. Helps you calm down

Restorative yoga offers an excellent opportunity to cut chords and disconnect with the outside world and let you travel to the world of nothingness and helps in calming you down. As you move along, it helps you to get in to deepened awareness and meditation. Moving through the poses slowly, you will start exploring your mind and body at a very steady tempo.

2. It lets you learn the art of acceptance

Restorative yoga does not have a forced pose; hence, it lets your body release itself according to ease. It lets you accept the kind of body you have and throw away all the preconceived notions about it.

3. It enhances flexibility

Although all the yoga poses make you a lot more flexible, however, practicing the restorative yoga makes the job easier. You generally explore what happens when your body releases all the tension.

4. It helps shed weight

Restorative yoga helps ion reducing cortisol levels that are also responsible for increased abdominal fat among other negative effects on our body.

5. It boosts your immune system

A regular restorative yoga practice actually helps improving the immune system. It is because the asanas (poses) nurture the body and induce relaxation response, while reducing the stress response, which further help in building a better immune system.

6. It heals sickness and soothes your nervous system

Restorative yoga does not include any active asana, rather it lets you and your body relax. The body, while in such pose, heals itself and cures the sickness. It also provides benefits including promotion of smooth blood circulation and tissue renewal.

Restorative yoga takes your body into a state that allows rejuvenation and relaxation. Go ahead and try these relaxing poses and say hello to a quieter mind.

Dr. Sujit Shinde
Dr. Sujit Shinde
BHMS, Family Physician Homeopath, 24 yrs, Pune
Dr. Amit Gupte
Dr. Amit Gupte
BDS, Dentist, 18 yrs, Pune
Dr. Tushar Shivaji Ghode
Dr. Tushar Shivaji Ghode
BDS, Dentist, 6 yrs, Pune
Dr. Prashant Wankhede
Dr. Prashant Wankhede
MS/MD - Ayurveda, Pune
Dr. Aakash Bora
Dr. Aakash Bora
BHMS, Homeopath, 7 yrs, Pune