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yogaYoga has been used as a ‘medical’ discipline for centuries [1] – although its original adherents would not have thought of it as such. As a fusion of the physical and the spiritual, yoga was always known to have healing properties, but these were often considered tangential to the discipline’s main aim of enhancing spiritual and personal efficacy. However, in more recent years, the spiritual and physical aspects of yoga have been cruelly separated by a great many sources. Some use yoga as a purely physical exercise, neglecting the spiritual aspects in the name of getting a toned body [2]. Others use it as a purely spiritual discipline, neglecting correct posture etc in favor of higher consciousness. However, despite this, the world of modern medicine is increasingly turning its eyes upon yoga and its potential for healing. And when we look at yoga as a modern healing tool, we begin to see that yoga truly does need to be considered as a holistic – i.e. physical and spiritual – medium in order to achieve its full effects.

Yoga For Mental Health

One of the main points of intersection for modern medicine and yoga is that of mental health. Studies have found that substance abusers going through withdrawal benefit very much from yoga sessions – not only because it helps to ease the discomfort in their suffering bodies, but because it helps them to reconnect with those bodies on a deeper level. This new sense of connection often engenders respect, and enables people who have been abusing their bodies for years to take detoxing seriously [3], and to commit to kicking their damaging habits. Simultaneously, it helps them to relax, and combats feelings of depression, inadequacy, and anxiety which often afflict recovering addicts. Needless to say, these effects are also fantastic for people suffering from other neuroses. Modern doctors are increasingly recommending that their patients undertake a course of yoga for mental health reasons [4]. However, the reason yoga works so well for mental health is that it acts on the mind THROUGH the body, rather than (as many other forms of mental health therapy do) working on the mind from an external source.

Yoga For Pain Relief

Several studies have proven yoga effective in reducing the experience of pain. On a very simple level, the practice of yoga can help to sort out postural issues, and generally strengthens the body. This can reduce or even outright eradicate the symptoms of many muscular and skeletal problems [5]. So far, so obvious. However, yoga can also help with more ephemeral pain – despite having no apparent ‘physical’ action upon the source of the pain. Patients suffering from the pain of chronic pancreatitis were found to consider their pain improved after a course of yoga [6]. What is interesting about this is that the yoga had had no tangible effect upon the condition itself – what had changed, it seems, was the patient’s experience of their pain. Pain is a complicated medical conundrum, but we know that a lot of it originates within the mind. It is this pain that the yoga seemed to be working on. Scientists are not entirely sure how yoga achieves this, but it’s thought that yoga’s power to reduce stress and boost mood also improves the patient’s own perception of the pain they’re experiencing. Yoga’s effects on the mind, therefore, percolate down through the body, altering our experience of physical problems.

Interconnected Yoga

Modern medicine has not been slow to capitalise upon yoga’s painkilling and mental health potential. And the research it’s doing into yoga’s modern medical possibilities reveals the fundamental mind-body interconnectedness of the discipline. This is something which we all once knew, and all took for granted. However, in recent years, many have lost sight of this fact. They’ve ‘separated’ a practice which needs to be considered a holistic ‘whole’ in order to function correctly into component ‘parts’ – the physical and the mental/spiritual. On their own, these aspects are of little use. As modern medical research is showing us, each ‘part’ relies on the other to do its job. This is something we could all do with remembering as we engage in our own yogic disciplines.

[1] “A Brief History Of Yoga: From Ancient Hindu Scriptures To The Modern, Westernized Practice”

[2]  “6-Minute Total-Body Toning Yoga”

[3]  “Your Guide to Holistic Detoxification from Drugs and Alcohol”

[4]  “Yoga for Psychiatry and Mental Health: An Ancient Practice with Modern Relevance”

[5]  “3 Ways Yoga Improves Your Joint System And Skeletal Structure”

[6] “Yoga for rehabilitation in chronic pancreatitis”

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yoga and SexualityIt can be difficult to keep a centered, grounded, spiritual outlook on life in the modern world. Holding closely to your spiritual center while living a physical life has always been complicated – there’s a reason why spiritual people have traditionally spent time in seclusion – but the deeply conflicted views of today’s society towards even the most basic facts of our humanity have a tendency to creep into our unconscious thoughts without our noticing. The natural sex drive is particularly hard hit, twisted by the dual messages surrounding us: the body is dirty and must be kept covered, yet the most valuable commodity is sex appeal. Yoga can help to bring us into alignment with a healthier, more balanced view of sex, giving us the tools we need to resist the confused messages about sexuality and sensuality we receive simply by existing in our society.

Reconnecting with our physical selves: Most people have an adversarial relationship with their body. It’s too slow, too ill, too fat, too much or too little of something; even healthy activities like exercise are usually promoted in terms of changing your body rather than embracing health. Although spirituality is sometimes seen as separate from the physical world, this is untrue, and when we disconnect from our bodies the spiritual element of our sex drive suffers. Yoga allows us to remember the ways in which our body supports us, and the sheer pleasure that can be found through inhabiting it fully.

Towards a spirituality of the physical: On a related note, yoga is inherently both a physical and a spiritual exercise, one which embodies the possibilities of a spirituality which does not reject our bodies as “less than”. For those who find themselves at a loss when trying to discover how their sex life can have a truly spiritual dimension, yoga practice can teach by example. After all, at its most basic sex is exercise with a partner, and yoga shows us how much meaning can be present in simple “exercise”.

Addressing physical issues: Modern medicine has reduced some of the stigma related to male sexual problems, but the issue still plagues many happy couples and turns spiritual moments into stressful ones. Although all men suffering from sexual problems like erectile dysfunction should speak to their doctor about conventional treatments like medication, yoga can provide a complementary boost in overcoming sexual difficulties. Relaxation of smooth muscle tissue is critical to proper functioning, but this can be interfered with by stress and anxiety; yoga can not only reduce overall anxiety levels, but also provides the tools to relax again during times of heightened stress. Of course, while medication and stress reduction can treat the symptoms, the causes of sexual issues (smoking, heart disease, high blood pressure, and more) can also be addressed through yoga, making it a truly holistic way to treat any sexual issues which may arise.

Increasing flexibility and decreasing pain levels, physically and mentally: It is difficult to open yourself to a spiritual perspective when you’re uncomfortable, in pain, or overly conscious of what you can and cannot do comfortably. As it encourages greater flexibility and may aid in controlling pain levels for those suffering from chronic conditions, yoga clears these concerns from the path towards a more spiritual sex life. In a similar vein, the self-confidence and increased self-esteem built by practicing yoga can help quiet the inner pain of wondering what we look like, if our partner really likes us, or other little voices which can draw us back to ego and away from connecting spiritually.

Holistic spirituality: When we increase our attention to spirituality in one facet of our lives, we will naturally find our spiritual outlook widening to encompass other actions and emotions. Sex, as a natural part of our lives, is not immune to this; it is difficult to find spirituality in our sex lives when we’re not spiritual at other moments, but it is likewise difficult to keep spirituality outside of the bedroom when we begin to integrate it into our worldview. The practice of yoga is one way to introduce greater levels of spiritual awareness into our day-to-day life, allowing us to fully access a life in which the sacred and the physical are truly intertwined.

Sources:

It’s no stretch — Yoga may benefit heart disease (Harvard Health Publications)
Students find peace with yoga (University of Cincinnati)

Wellness: Spiritual Wellness (UC Riverside)

Yoga: Brief History of an Idea (Princeton)
Yoga for Smoking Cessation (ClinicalTrials.gov)
Yoga reduces stress; now it’s known why (University of California)

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YogaStatistics show that all too many people in industrialised nations are living with anxiety and depression. The World Health Organization has stated that depression was the third most important cause of the global disease burden in 2004 and anxiety disorders (including panic disorder, generalized anxiety, phobias and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) are the most common cause of mental illness. Chronic stress has been linked to depression and anxiety, as well as a plethora of physical illnesses as well, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Keeping our stress levels is down is important not only to prevent disease, but also to ensure positive outcomes when we are receiving treatment for challenging illnesses such as cancer. For this reason, enlightened members of the medical profession are constantly seeking cheap, effective ways to lower stress, without the side-effects of medication. One of the most promising practices they have come across, whose benefits have been documented in a host of scientific studies over the past decade, is yoga.

  • Yoga boosts memory and concentration: A fascinating study carried out by scientists at Wayne State University in Detroit, found that just one session of hatha yoga significantly improved subjects’ working memory and concentration, resulting in better test results.  They also found that those who had run on a treadmill in lieu of attending yoga class, did not have the same ability to focus mentally. Lead study author, Neha Gothe, notes that controlled breathing and meditation enhance concentration, keeping everyday stressful thoughts at bay. The deep state of relaxation which ensues, argues Gothe, could be the reason for improved memory and concentration.
  • Yoga battles stress: One of the most groundbreaking studies undertaken recently on the positive effect of yoga involved women receiving radiotherapy treatment for cancer. Patients recovering from cancer are faced with devastating side-effects, which normally include fatigue, stress and depression. The study showed that women who attended yoga sessions three times a week for six weeks had less fatigue and depression, lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and better sleep quality. It is for these same reasons that yoga is currently one of the most popular complementary treatments in top drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres around the world. Yoga helps recovering addicts gain a sense of control, and it also helps them relax, battle stress and focus on the present moment. It can be a powerful aid in recovery and can enhance their quality of life even after they have overcome addiction.
  • Yoga increases self-esteem: A study published in the International Journal of Yoga (2009) found that those who performed yoga enjoyed a greater improvement in self-esteem than those who performed other types of physical exercise.Yoga Asanas
  • Yoga improves the mood: A German study published in 2005 found that women who described themselves as ‘emotionally distressed’ saw great improvements through the regular practice of yoga. For three months the women attended two 90-minute classes every week. At the end of the study period, they had less perceived stress, depression, anxiety and fatigue. They also reported greater well-being and energy.
  • Yoga can aid those with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A study on Australian war veterans with severe PTSD found that a combined programme of yoga asanas, controlled breathing, guided medication and information on the reduction of stress, resulted in significant improvement six weeks after the commencement of the study. Improvement was measured by the veterans’ results on the Clinician Administered PTDS Scale (CAPS), which measures the severity of PTSD symptoms. The yoga group lowered their CAPS scores from an average of 57 (moderate to severe PTSY) to 42 (mild to moderate PTSD). Interestingly, the benefits were found to persist some six months after the study had ended. A control group of veterans who had been placed on a waiting list, did not show improvements in their CAPS scores.
  • Yoga can aid those suffering from somatization disorder: Somatisation disorder is a chronic condition in which sufferers can have pain in more than one part of the body, despite no physical cause being found. A study published in January, 2014, found that yoga training for a period of 12 weeks was able to reduce somatisation in a group of healthy women. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and hostility levels were also decreased.
  • Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) and depression: The experts at Harvard University note that Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY), which can be traced to traditional yoga and which involves cyclical breathing patterns (ranging from slow to fast), has decreased symptoms of depression in two studies thus far. In addition to battling depression, SKY has also been found to lower stress hormone levels, leading researchers to conclude that this technique could be highly useful in treating depression in those in the early stages of recovery from alcohol addiction.

Sources:

http://integratedlistening.com/just-20-minutes-of-yoga-can-immediately-stimulate-brain-function/

http://yoga.org.nz/benefits/psychological_benefits/benefits_psychological.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/basics/burden.htm

http://www.researchgate.net/publication/49754688_A_randomized_control_trial_of_the_effect_of_yoga_on_Gunas_(personality)_and_Self_esteem_in_normal_healthy_volunteers

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/2009/April/Yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression

http://www.bpsmedicine.com/content/8/1/1

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isro mars missionThe Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), that got global recognition for its successful launch of a mission to Mars, will now launch German, French, British and Canadaian satellites, a top official said.

“We will be launching EnMAP (Environmental Mapping and Analysis Programme) satellite belonging to Germany. The satellite will weigh around 800 kg,” ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan told a news agency in an interview.

The EnMAP is a hyperspectral satellite that would provide images of the Earth at regular intervals. This apart, ISRO will be launching French satellite SPOT-7 during the first quarter of 2014, Radhakrishnan said.

“There will be four more small foreign satellites that would go along with SPOT-7,” he added.

ISRO had launched the SPOT-6 satellite in 2012.

Radhakrishnan said discussions were held with British agencies for launching three satellites each weighing around 300 kg and also to launch a set of Canadian satellites. The idea is to have at least one commercial launch every year using the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), the ISRO chairman said.

According to him, the PSLV rocket’s reliability has been underlined once again with the launch of Mars Orbiter in a precise manner despite the challenges.

Queried about the status of Mars Orbiter, he said: “The Orbiter has been raised to around 193,000 km apogee (farthest point from Earth). We are all gearing up for the dawn of Dec 1 when the Orbiter will be injected in trans-Martian orbit.”

ISRO has been switching on the various systems and payloads of the Orbiter to check their functionalities and health. Read more

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chanakya1Son of rishi Canak, Chanakya, also known as Kautilya or Vishnugupta, was born in Pataliputra,Magadh (modern Bihar), and later moved to Taxila, in Gandhar province(now in Pakistan). At a very early age little Chanakya started studying Vedas. The Vedas; considered to be the toughest scriptures to study were completely studied and memorized by Chanakya in his infancy. He was attracted to studies in politics. In politics Chanakya’s acumen and shrewdness was visible right from childhood. He was a student of politics right from child hood. Known as a masterful political strategist, He knew how to put his own people in the opposite camp and spy the enemy without his knowledge before destroying him forever. Chanakya was an ace in turning tables in his favor irrespective of the circumstances.

He never budged to pressure tactics by the ruthless politicians. In this way after studying religion and politics, he turned his attention to economics, which remained his lifelong friend. “Nitishastra”, a treatise on the ideal way of life shows his in depth study of the Indian way of lifeHe was a professor (acharya) of political science at the Takshashila University and later the Prime Minister of the Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. He is regarded as one of the earliest known political thinkers, economists and king-makers. He was the man to envision the first Indian empire by unification of the then numerous kingdoms in the Indian sub-continent and provide the impetus for fights against the Greek conqueror Alexander.

1) “Learn from the mistakes of others… you can’t live long enough to make them all yourselves!!”

– Chanakya

2)”A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and Honest people are screwed first.”

– Chanakya

3)”Even if a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be venomous.”

Chanakya

4)”There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is no friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter truth.”

– Chanakya

5)” Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions – Why am I doing it, What the results might be and Will I be successful. Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions, go ahead.”

– Chanakya

6)”As soon as the fear approaches near, attack and destroy it.”

– Chanakya

7)”The world’s biggest power is the youth and beauty of a woman.”

– Chanakya

8)”Once you start a working on something, don’t be afraid of failure and don’t abandon it. People who work sincerely are the happiest.”

– Chanakya

9)”The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. But the goodness of a person spreads in all direction.”

– Chanakya

10)”God is not present in idols. Your feelings are your god. The soul is your temple.”

– Chanakya

11) “A man is great by deeds, not by birth.”

– Chanakya

12) “Never make friends with people who are above or below you in status. Such friendships will never give you any happiness.”

– Chanakya

13) “Treat your kid like a darling for the first five years. For the next five years, scold them. By the time they turn sixteen, treat them like a friend. Your grown up children are your best friends.”

– Chanakya

14) “Books are as useful to a stupid person as a mirror is useful to a blind person.”

– Chanakya

15) “Education is the best friend. An educated person is respected everywhere. Education beats the beauty and the youth.”

-Chanakya

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Hyderabad Biodiversity Capital

XI Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

  • More than 8,000 delegates from 193 countries are expected to participate
  • Biodiversity Park, Museum & Pylon to be established for COP-11

United Nations Decade on Biodiversity logoThe eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is going to kick start in Hyderabad from 1 to 19 October 2012.  A national stakeholder consultative meeting was held that brought together the representatives of civil society, the scientific community, United Nations agencies and other donors as well as the representatives of the business community.

The Conference on Biodiversity at Hyderabad will be held from 1st-19th October 2012, in HICC. More than 8,000 delegates from 193 countries are expected to participate. The CoP-11 schedule is 1st to 5th October 2012 – meeting of parties (MoP) on Bio-safety Cartigena Protocol will be held. 8th – 19th October 2012 Conference of Parties (CoP-11) will be held. 17th – 19 October 2012, the High Level Segment will be held.

biodiversity Five themes identified for High Level Segment (HLS) are Biodiversity and Livelihoods, Integration of value of Biodiversity in National Planning and Accounting Process, Strategy for Resource Mobilisation, Coastal and Marine Biodiversity and Operationalization of Nagoya Protocol.

The eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties will coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity as well with the Rio+20 meeting scheduled earlier in the year.  India has not hosted a meeting of a Conference of the Parties to a multilateral environmental agreement since 2002.  This will be the first meeting to assess the implementation of the Nagoya biodiversity compact.

By the time of the Hyderabad meeting, it is expected that all countries who are Parties to the Convention will have submitted their national biodiversity strategies and action plans, and many will also have updated them.

The Hyderabad meeting is also noteworthy, as it is widely expected that two new protocols to the  Convention will have entered into force:  the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources  and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization, and the Nagoya – Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on  Biosafety will have force of law should both receive sufficient numbers of instruments of  ratification in the coming months. Currently, the Nagoya Protocol has 24 signatories and the Nagoya – Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol has 23.

Attending the ceremony, Mr Hideki Minamikawa, the Vice-Minister of the Environment of Japan  representing the President of the Conference of the Parties pledged the full support of Japan for  the success of the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties.

After announcing that the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties will be held in Hyderabad, Jairam Ramesh, the Minister of the Environment and Forests of India, unveiled the logo of the Hyderabad biodiversity summit. The logo builds on the logo of the Nagoya biodiversity summit and symbolizes the cycle of life represented by a tiger and a whale and human being, with grain at the centre. In presenting the logo, the Minister stated that livelihoods and biodiversity should be at the centre of discussions at the summit, to be held under the slogan ― Prakruti Rakshati Rakshita‖ (―Nature Protects if She is Protected).

Logo:

bidiversity-logoThe CoP 11 to CBD logo has been developed by National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad for Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India.

The CoP 11 to CBD logo consists of three major motifs, the Royal Bengal Tiger on the upper part, a woman with a bird and a leaf at the centre and a dolphin on the lower part of the circle. On top is the slogan in Sanskrit with English translation ‘Nature Protects if She is Protected’

About The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 193 Parties, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The Convention seeks to address  all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through  scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of  technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders  including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community.  The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is a subsidiary agreement to the Convention. It seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. To date, 159 countries plus the European Union have ratified the Cartagena Protocol. The Secretariat of the Convention and its Cartagena Protocol is located in Montreal. For more information visit www.cbd.int

For additional information, please contact: David Ainsworth on +1 514 287 7025 or at

david.ainsworth@cbd.int  ; or Johan Hedlund on +1 514 287 6670 or at johan.hedlund@cbd.int .

Welcome to Hyderabad, India

Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh, India) will be host to  the  eleventh  meeting  of  the  Conference  of  the  Parties  to  the  Convention  on  Biological  Diversity.  Organised by Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, the Conference will be held from 1 to 19 October 2012 at HICC – HITEX Complex  in Hyderabad, India.

For further information and updates please visit:

www.cbdcop11india.in

Useful Stuff for foreign delegates:

Interactive fair for Biodiversity route mapXI Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

http://cbdcop11india.in/home.html

Interactive fair for Biodiversity

Science Express – Biodiversity Special- http://www.sciencexpress.in/

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India’s Western Ghats

India’s Western Ghats have been added to the prestigious list of the United Nation’s cultural agency, UNESCO’s world heritage sites.

The mountains cover an area of about 160,000 sq km (61,776 sq miles) stretching from India’s southern tip to Gujarat. The lush mountains are at risk of a biodiversity crisis due to rapidly increasing population, the BBC reports.

According to UNESCO, the forests include non-equatorial tropical evergreen forests and are home to at least 325 globally-threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species. The mountains are also recognised as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity, and its forests influence the Indian monsoons.

Some interesting Facts:

  • The Western Ghats have 508 bird species, 16 of which are endemic.
  • Nearly 10,000 Asian elephants live here.
  • The rare nilgiri langur monkey lives here

The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted to add the Western Ghats — believed to have forests older than the Himalayas — to its World Heritage List, taking India’s tally of such sites to 29.

On July 1, the World Heritage committee, a 21-member body, met at St Petersburg, Russia, and included the Western Ghats on its list, along with 14 other sites around the world. About 17 nations, including Russia and Japan, participated in an elaborate discussion and backed the proposal to include the Ghats on this prestigious list.

Popularly known as ‘Sahyadri’ and ‘Malnad’ in local parlance, the Western Ghats mountain chain starts at the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra, and runs through the states of Maharashtra , Goa, Karnataka , Tamil Nadu and Kerala, ending at Kanyakumari . It is recognized as one of the world’s eight hottest hotspots of biological diversity that largely influences the Indian monsoon weather pattern.

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