(Vice Chancellor) Yoga University India & Dr. Sujit Chandratreya (MD, DNB, DM, Endocrinologist & Diabetologist)
Patanjali, the founder of yoga had designed the science of yoga about 2500 years ago. Since then this science is being taught in India and around the world. Patanjali has explained yoga in eight steps and Asana or Postures is one of those steps.
Patanjali defines the Asana as "Steady and comfortable posture or position". So Asana is a position of body and mind which is steady and comfortable. Any body posture is comfortable when it is attained in natural environmental conditions.
This is achieved through relaxation; the word relaxation is a key to ideal Asana position. The perfect relaxation on physical and mental level is essentially responsible to attain the steadiness and comfort. This retains and increases the Pranic or bio energy in the body.
This relaxed position of body results in lowering of respiration rate, blood pressure, heart rate which in turn lowers the metabolic rate. This is also verified by various scientific experiments carried out in various research organizations all over the world and these great benefits of yoga are scientifically accepted.
So yoga is relaxation and not like stressful exercises. If the Asana is practiced in HOT ENVIRONMENT (temperatures about 105 degrees Fahrenheit) as it is done in some styles of Yoga, the heart rate, respiration rate and blood pressure increases, though muscles expand and one can stretch the body more, this may harm the muscles. Ideally the Yoga should be practiced in normal environmental conditions.
This Hot Yoga, Bikram yoga or similar type is inappropriate and difficult to justify version of Indian ancient Science of Yoga. In fact it can not be called as Yoga as per Indian Science.
Many medical experts all over the world have raised concern over the excess strain exerted on muscles in Hot environment (temperatures about 105 deg. F). In this environment there is always a danger of muscle or ligament stretched beyond biological limit and may get Damaged.
Consider the Fever, it is a natural protective phenomenon as many bodily reactions are accelerated by heat. Thus in any infection, we get fever and it helps to clear that infection. It also dilates our blood vessels and makes the heart beat faster & stronger, it also causes excessive water loss from our body.
But there is another side of it! Our body has very little redundant energy to waste away. The energy demand in heated environment catalyzes certain bodily processes and slows down other processes. Our present medical science does not have a complete knowledge about it, but it is very logical that heated environment is not natural or normal condition for the body. Our body is meant to function at normal temperatures; Yoga should be practiced in optimum & comfortable conditions. Imagine doing Yoga when you are suffering from Fever where your body temperature is 105 deg. Fahrenheit!
Life is very difficult in regions where temperatures are as high as 48 degrees celsius, so why create such difficult condition around and practice yoga there" Isn?t it a common sense not to create worse situations for body"
It is an individual choice to select the style of Yoga but one must ensure that the style is in line with the basic definition of Yoga.
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