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Yoga, an alternative therapy for AIDS

AIDS in today's world is a serious threat that if not contained will engulf the entire human race. 35.3 million people are living with HIV in the world. Every hour 50 young women are newly infected with HIV. 9,700,000 people are seeking treatment across the globe. Sri Lanka recorded an increase in the number of HIV/AIDS cases and health authorities are warning that most of the cases are among male population engaged in foreign employment.

Remedy

Some 113 people had been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the first six months of this year alone when compared to 90 in the same period last year. Around 81 HIV cases had been reported during the first six months of 2012. 3000 people were living with HIV/ AIDS in Sri Lanka in 2012. 16 persons had died of AIDS during the first 06 months of last year (2014) in Sri Lanka.

Earlier, usually around 60 percent of cases were reported from the Colombo district. But, now the situation had changed. Around 17 children who were HIV infected at birth were among the HIV/AIDS patients in the country. Six pregnant women had also been diagnosed with HIV in 2013.

There are between 35,000 to 47,000 sex workers in Sri Lanka. They serve over 200,000 men daily and each of them caters at least five to six clients per day in addition there are over 40,000 drugs addicts and 20,000 beach boys. This has paved way to add least one HIV patient daily to the records. The present trend of flourishing tourism industry in Sri Lanka aftermath of the cessation of the internal war has increased the number of HIV positive patients manifolds.

The medical fraternity does not suggest any effective remedy for AIDS, however, Ayurvedic practitioners claim that Ayurveda recognised AIDS 2,000 years ago. Named as the king of diseases or Rajayakshma and is defined in Ashtanga Hridayam. To improve body strength and induce appetite, preparations such as Indukantham Ghritham and Ajamamsa Rasayanam are recommended. Rasasindoor, a mercury preparation, is given to the patients to increase internal strength. If the symptoms start diminishing and patients recover, shodhana (cleansing) techniques are recommended to flush out toxins from the system. This is done through purgation, emesis and enemas. Once the signs of improvement are seen, the patient is given medications that purify the blood. Patients are recommended to consume special non-vegetarian diet to boost strength. Bathing with cold water and application of sandalwood paste is also recommended.

Ayurveda advises rejuvenators and tonics to enhance immunity level of AIDS patients. Healthy and safe sex is what can prevent AIDS to become an epidemic as AIDS is mostly transmitted by sexual means. Condoms are an easy way for protection during sexual intercourse. While using injections and syringes, it must be ensured that they are properly sterilized and not shared by others. Though the disease is not curable but practically an HIV infected person can lead a healthy life by choosing a balanced diet and maintaining health and body fitness by practicing Yoga.

Modern medicine undergoes constant change, theories alter by minute. Terminologies are modified in each national or international conference. Newer drugs are being discovered to tackle old and new illnesses, old illnesses are vanishing and new ones like AIDS taking their place. alcohol

The most effective way to slow down the spread of HIV/AIDS is through changing the sexual and infecting drug risk behaviour that transmit HIV from individual to individual. Drinking alcohol significantly increases the risk of these behaviors in complex way. Drinking alcohol encourages adolescents to engage in risky behaviour of unprotected sex. Hence, delaying the initiation of sexual activity and dissuading young adults from using alcohol and drugs are important HIV prevention strategies. Yoga Therapy enhances your abilities, more easily give up bad habits and more effectively develop healthier habits. This helps prevention of AIDS transmission to a great extent.

The relation between the psyche and soma is harmonised by the Yoga Therapy. Drugs may cure illnesses but the basic inner foundation for achieving health, the harmonisation of inner psyche, is not established. Yoga Therapy is of more value in this. The fact that Yoga Therapy can prevent and cure many illnesses including AIDS is well known. Yoga Therapy has never been very easy to define, largely owing to the length and breadth of the subject. Yoga Therapy aims at the holistic treatment of various kinds of psychological or somatic dysfunction inducing ones that could not be managed by Allopathic Medicine. A number of studies have proven the effectiveness of Yoga Therapy. There are various steps such as postures (asanas), pranayama (breathing exercise) and Meditation etc. in Yoga Therapy that contribute for overall well being.

When a person is made aware of AIDS he shall experience fear, hopelessness and depression. Yoga Therapy can greatly help in handling and counselling this stress. So as a result when practiced regularly it helps in not only to cope up with stress and building up inner strength but also bringing about self awareness through meditation.

"Keep fit and stay healthy" that's the mantra for the people who are carriers of HIV virus. Some specific postures are beneficial in maintaining health. The good thing is that these postures can be easily performed at home not incurring any expenses.

A set of postures tone up the muscles and internal organs. They revitalise system, create overall awareness of the body and its function and help tranquilise the mind. They also energise and stimulate body's major endocrine glands (ductless glands). By toning up internal organs, they also prevent and cure many illnesses.

Immunity

They include head stand (Sirasana), supported bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana), simple cross leg (Sukhasana), supported plough (Ardha Halasana), supported head/knee forward bend (Janusirasana) and corpse (Shavasana). When these postures are practiced regularly they help in improvement of immune system increasing immunity.

Corpse (Shavasana) is a relaxing posture, a process designed to soothe both mind and body.

Yoga Therapy holds that "Tension is disease (a state of unease) and relaxation is health". To this end shavasana contributes a lot.

Shavasana enables you to communicate directly with your subconscious mind to enhance your abilities, more easily give up bad habits, feel less pain, more effectively develop healthier habits. This help AIDS patients fight with it.

Whenever we think of the term Pranayama, the only thing appears in our mind is that it is a breathing exercise. But, Pranayama means a lot more than just breathing for relaxation.

Cosmic power or power of whole entire universe (Prana) that reveals of self a conscious living enmity in us through the miracle of breathing. Pranayama is regulation of incoming and outgoing breath coupled with retention. Cosmic power dominates and controls our body. Pranayama prepares us for the stillness and meditation to come. It helps us control ourselves mentally and physically, attaining purification of body, soul and mind. Prana in Nadis enhances body's immunity thereby prevents and cures various chronic diseases including AIDS.

Concentration

Meditation is a unique technique used to stabilise the mind, increase concentration and will power, balance cellular and chakra energy and develop one-pointedness.

Doctors are suggesting meditation option as an alternative therapy to improve condition of people suffering from various chronic diseases.

Meditation is now considered as a flexible approach towards combating anxiety, stress, depression and other medical conditions arising due to stress from day to day activities which steals the inner calmness of an individual. During the meditation the mind gets purified as all other distracting thoughts are removed from the mind. Medical professionals who were unable to attain maximum results in their treatment of stress related health conditions, found meditation to be a valuable tool. Today, value of meditation is being realised worldwide.

Meditation

Recent studies have indicated that meditation plays an important role in an individual's physiological and psychological well-being. The reason behind this is that through meditation the mind is drawn to a state of consciousness which promotes healing.

Meditation is found to be beneficial in lowering the heart rate, lowering cortisol level that causes stress, reducing the free radicals that cause diseases in the body, reducing hypertension, reducing cholesterol levels, treating TB that causes death to AIDS patients by improving air flow into the lungs while inhaling, reducing ageing by increasing DHEAS (Dehydroeplandrosterone) as low levels of DHEAS is correlated to ageing. Research has conclusively proved the connection between DHEAS level and diseases such as diabetes, lymphoma (a cancer that arises in the cells of the immune system) as well as a decreased lifespan. Meditation significantly enhances DHEAS level. DHEAS deficiency contributes to common age related diseases and diminished longevity.

Meditation increases the consistency of the brain wave pattern.

In addition meditation decreases stress and anxiety, depression, and irritability and increases memory, enhances vitality, emotional stability and promotes self-realisation.

All these play a significant role for fast recovery from AIDS.

Meditation is being practiced in certain hospitals around the world for improving immune function during health conditions such as AIDS and cancer. More and more physicians have now begun considering meditation as a key element in health programs and meditation is recommended as part of treatment for a number of health conditions.

The writer is a Consultant Yoga Therapist

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