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Sunday, April 26, 2015

How far can we stretch placebo effect?

Recent research has confirmed the marvelous capabilities of placebo effect (effects caused by strong belief or expectation) on our physical as well as mental well being. I have discussed some of these in my book “How does the Mind work?
In “How and why of Yoga and Meditation – Yoga scientifically explained” I have hinted that placebo effect could be one of the contributors to the marvelous benefits reported by the practice of Yoga postures. Though, I fully agree that benefits of Yoga postures are not all due to placebo effect.

Recently, we keep coming across several ‘best sellers’ that project either chanting of some monosyllable mantras or some weird hand gestures as a ‘cure all’ for all our problems and needs – from depression to sex! If one looks at a bit broadly, there are ‘medical systems’ with concepts that neither stand to logic nor have passed any large scale validation, but still have large adherents who vouch for their effectiveness.

Are we then to take placebo effect as a useful phenomenon in the long run? If we look back, human development seems to be largely due to logical reasoning rather than purely based on faith. Though we cannot altogether get us rid of faith and associated placebo effect, the question is “how far should we stretch it?”

Friday, April 24, 2015

As many Yogas, so many theories

Nowadays we come across whole lot of things propagated as ‘Yoga’. Almost all of them trace the origin to Patanjali. Interestingly, there are equally many theories about what these ‘techniques’ can achieve and how they work. I was curious and thought of recording them. Here are some.

Theory 1. Yoga basically involves modulating the mental activities so that the mind calms down completely by a step by step process. A completely calm mind enables one to realize the ultimate.

This is the theory propounded by Patanjali (300 B.C.) in his Yoga sutra. Even ancient Buddhists had a very similar explanation to their meditative techniques that also work like Yoga. Incidentally, I have also tried to explain Yoga on similar lines in the light of modern neuroscience in my book “How and Why of Yoga and Meditation – Yoga scientifically explained”.

Theory 2. Yoga involves channeling the cosmic power called ‘Kundalini’ from ‘moolaadhara’ (in the pelvic region) to ‘sahasraara’ in the brain, passing through various ‘power centers’ (called ‘chakras’) that lie along the spinal cord. This is achieved using various Yoga techniques. When this power reaches its destination, the person who practices Yoga gets ultimate realization.

This is the theory propounded by Hatayoga Pradeepika (15th century). Many modern Yoga teachers who propagate variants of this ‘Hatayoga’ talk about very similar theories. Some of them even attribute its origin to Lord Shri Krishna in Bhagavad Geetha (apparently even before 300 B.C.) . But as far as I am aware, the theory in Bhagavad Geetha is closer to the one propounded by Patanjali.

Theory 3. The Yogic breathing acts like bellows that kindle the fire in the lower abdomen. As a result the impure and thick blood in the heart starts boiling. When this blood boils, impurities in it get separated in the same way as impurities separate from molten gold. These impurities are expelled though sweat that is produced during Yogic postures. Since the root cause of ill health is these impurities, Yoga makes the person healthy.

This is a theory supposedly based on some little known ‘ancient’ text. This theory forms the basis of many modern Yoga variants that seem to be quite popular. These systems give utmost importance to Yoga postures and breathing.

Theory 4. Our body is encircled by currents of cosmic forces. When one moves the hands and other limbs in the process of performing various Yoga postures, these currents get directed to flow into the body. Their entry into the body charges it up and makes it healthy.

I am not sure what the basis of this theory is, but I have read some Yoga proponents give this theory. May be influenced by some Chinese concepts.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

New book on exotic fruit plant grafting techniques

A new book "Five simple grafting techniques best suited for most exotic fruit plants" is published. Right now only e-book version is available. The book is available in amazon as well as most e-book stores.

This book describes in detail 5 most useful grafting techniques that can be used to propagate many exotic fruits. The book contains detailed illustrations, examples, fruit chart as well as root stocks and techniques well suited for these fruits.

click  for a preview