Articles

YOGIC MANAGEMENT OF EPILEPSY

Author: Cedric Reynard

Epilepsy is a somewhat obscure disease of the brain in which the patient suffers from recurrent fits, often called ‘seizures.’  Epilepsy many be hereditary or may arise due to some malformation of the skull, sudden fright, mental strain, overwork, or overindulgence in alcohol. A sudden unbalanced electric potential appears in the brain and creates the fits. It is then followed by a loss of consciousness. Sometimes the patient gets warning signs such as a headache, body shakes, or a bad taste in the moth. This essay will present the diverse possibilities on how to live with the fits and maybe a method to reduce or totally get rid of them.

Symptoms

An epileptic seizure is generally preceded by a momentary staggering, or similar peculiar sensation, followed by a temporary loss of consciousness. When a patient gets such an attack, the loss of consciousness is often accompanied by the patient kicking, throwing his arms about, shouting incoherently, or merely grumbling.  He may bite his tongue. And then he becomes calm and may regain full consciousness or may fall into a deep sleep.

Treatment

By practicing yoga in its different aspects, epilepsy could be considerably reduced. The yogic management of epilepsy can include:

Asana: to calm the mind, balance the hormonal system, increase the connection between body and mind, and, with the addition of mudras, the effects get even stronger.

Pranayama: to reduce general stress of life, to help to get through the night easily. Reduces the breath rhythm and blood pressure by extending prana in the body and mind.

Shatkarma: techniques of cleansing the body and mind producing a general wellbeing effect.

Mantra Chanting:  to surrender to God and provide helpful vibrations in the brain and body.

Self-Discipline: by following the advice of Niyama as much as possible, the patient will develop a more disciplined lifestyle and definitely be much stronger to fight “fits”.

Specific Asanas and Mudras

Sarvangasana - This asana stimulates the thyroid gland, balancing the circulatory system, digestive and nervous systems. Together with the enriched blood flow to the brain, it tranquilizes the mind, relieves mental and emotional stress, fears, and headaches and helps clear psychological disturbances. Abdominal breathing is induced, improving the exchange of air in the body and relieving stress. Sarvangasana needs to be followed by Matsyasana.

Shashankasana - Nerve connections emanating from the spinal cord are often squeezed by the discs, giving rise to various forms of backache.  This posture helps to relive this problem. It also regulates the functioning of the adrenal glands. When practiced with ujjayi pranayama in the final position it helps to eliminate anger and is very cool for the brain.

Bhujangasana - By arching the spine one improves circulation in the back region and toning of the nerves resulting in better communication between the brain and body. The adrenal glands, situated on tops of the kidneys, are also massaged and stimulated to work more efficiently. The secretion of cortisone is maintained and the thyroid gland is regulated.

Tadasana - Develops physical and mental balance. The entire spine is stretched and loosened, helping to clear up congestion of the spinal nerves at the point where they emerge from the spinal column.

Surya Namaskar - The practice of surya namaskar provides a great number of benefits, including removing carbon dioxide from the lungs and replacing it with fresh oxygen, increasing mental clarity.  

Yogamudrasana - This mudra stretches the spine gently toning spinal nerves that emerge from the spaces between the vertebrae. This contributes to general good health. Yogamudrasana is used to awaken Manipur chakra, the fire element.

Yoni Mudra - Balances the energies in the body and helps activities of the right and the left hemisphere of the brain. This mudra makes the body and mind more stable in meditation and develops greater concentration, awareness and internal physical relaxation.

Other Helpful Exercises

Nadi Shodhana: - This is the first pranayama described in classical yogic texts. “Nadi” means energy channels and “Shodhana” means to cleanse or to purify. Nadi Shodhana is practiced by alternating inhalation and exhalation between the left and right nostrils, thereby stimulating the ida and pingla nadis and the two brain hemispheres. This leads to control of the oscillation of the body-mind network, bringing balance and harmony throughout the system. As a daily practice, nadi shodhana may be used to vitalize pranic energies, release pranic blockages, and achieve a balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems so that life’s situations can be handled better.  As a therapeutic tool, nadi shodhana can be applied to almost all physical and mental disorders.

Neti (Nasal Cleaning) - Helps to improve brain function and reduces anxiety and depression. Cleaning techniques effect body and mind purification, which leads to physical health, a strong and controlled mind, and controlled emotions.

Mantras - Omkar chanting brings a positive energy into the body and mind. It calms the nervous system and brings a person into a relaxed state of mind.  Increasing the time of Omkar chanting could even cure serious illness such as cancer.  The vibrational effect of chanting acts on many different parts of the body, from the abdomen to the throat and head.  Chanting can also help one fall asleep if practiced before going to bed. 

Niyama – Self Discipline - By following ayurveydic knowledge, the patient can adopt an individual diet to help the body function properly, especially those functions affecting the nervous system. Eating sattvic food is also recommended. The patient should give up alcohol entirely, as well as salt, meat, white bread, sugar, rice, cakes, pastries, heavy puddings, tea, coffee, condiments and sauces. Food causing biliousness, acidity, and flatulence should also be avoided. The diet has to be light and simple. One should eat fresh fruits, salads, wholemeal bread, cheese and milk. Smoking, sexual desires, and sexual expression should also be avoided and the patient should be encouraged to adopt and maintain a lifestyle without stress, extreme exertion or excitement, and to not walk in the hot sun. A generally quiet life style is essential to the reduction of epileptic seizures with mild, regular exercise. The practise of yoga nidra will also flush old patterns from the subconsciousness.

Conclusion

Yoga can definitely help the epileptic patient reduce suffering from fits. The practices suggested in this paper should be split up during the day and throughout the week. But the first point is that the patient has to be motivated in getting into a self-disciplined lifestyle, and concentrate his will power to succeed.

References:

• “Asana, Pranayama, Mudra Bhanda” from Swami Satyananda Saraswati

• “Prana and Pranayama” from Swami Satyananda Saraswati

• “Practice of Nautre Cure” from Swami Satyananda Saraswati

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Village Talwade, Trimbak, Nasik
Maharashtra,India.

Phone - +91-9822770727

E-mail - yoga@yogapoint.com or yogapoint108@gmail.com

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