When the Covid-19 is mutating itself into multiple variants, Odisha’s Bijoylaxmi Hota, a yoga therapist with over four decades of experience, provides hope to beat this illness and many more. An author of nearly a dozen books on the ancient yogic science and diets, Hota provides remedies to keep the bug at bay.
Q: Yoga conjures up different things to different people. To some, it is asanas and pranayamas. Others believe it’s meditation. What is actually yoga in its totality?
A: Yoga is devised for a higher purpose - transcending ourselves to attain Godhead. The main yogas are - Raja, Gyana and Mukti. They are meant for building better human beings. However, one can’t practice yoga unless one has good health, and that is why ‘Hatha Yoga’ started evolving. ‘Hatha Yoga’ has the components of asanas, pranayamas, shatkarma, bandh and mudra. For holistic health, working out in mind is paramount as it is the mind that lords over the body. Mind primarily conditions humans to lead a healthy life through physical yoga. Stress sows the seeds of all afflictions.
Q: How does stress play itself into our system and trigger illness?
A: Stress creates tense moments. Science shows how blood vessels get constricted making one tense. This constriction impedes flow of blood to cells. It is the red blood cells that carry oxygen and nutrients to our cells. They sometimes go in a single file to reach the tissues as the blood capillaries are so thin. Sometimes they even have to twist themselves to reach the target areas. When the capillaries get narrowed down, blood flow is affected. Remember, unless tissues get their quota of nutrients and oxygen, they malfunction. If such bio-chemical change continues for a long time, organs will naturally break down. So, tension is the prime culprit. It needs to be ticked out first from our body.
Q: How does yoga deliver the antidotes to stress?
A: Yes, it is the physical postures (asanas) that play the pivotal role here. The asanas optimize the circulatory system of the body. Organs keep getting the required blood to function in a natural way. This is how yoga runs the body machine harmoniously.
Q) The fourth wave of Covid-19 may not be ruled out. We see a sudden upturn in Covid 19 cases in Delhi and elsewhere in the globe. Does yoga have a cure?
A: Ye, very much. A good immunity will fight out the virus. Stress is dominating the human-scape now. In a state of stress, Vitamin A fast disappears from our body. This in effect weakens the immunity level. You will then become vulnerable to infection. Since yoga works out mainly on de-stressing, practicing asanasa properly aids the blood flow to different organs optimally. And this will give a boost to immunity and render people less vulnerable to infection.
Q) Modern medical science has no answer to diseases like cancer, diabetes, blood pressure, arthritis and back pain. But you claim yoga can cure such ailments in a very short span of time…
A: There is a famous book called ‘Hatha Yoga Pradipika’. The book details how all kinds of diseases can be cured by yoga and ‘pranayama’. However, it all depends on pin-pointed practice. You need to know what asana is for which disease. Just select that and follow all the rules like sequence, speed, duration and number. Doing yogasanas rhythmically can drive out diseases. If yoga workouts don’t prove helpful to you in curing some diseases then the fault doesn’t lie in the asanas. It lies in the selection of the proper yogasana. I have cured my mother’s high blood pressure within three days by yoga. Modern medical science has limitations, but yoga does not. It can cure all kinds of chronic and lifestyle diseases.
Q) Diabetes is afflicting people in a big way. Data shows 4.5% deaths in Odisha were due to this disease. Can you suggest any specific yoga to get relief from diabetes?
A: First learn the root cause. Diabetes shows you are stressed. Stress is not a modern word. Primitive man was also stressed. But they had either run away from danger or battled with it. For that he had to burn a lot of energy (calories). This is how nature has carried the stress management. Since, much of calorie is burnt in fighting and running, energy is spent and post this exercise, the body system gets rebooted to normalcy. But when they happen to a modern man, he does not spend energy. Subsequently, the high blood sugar remains in the blood and you develop diabetes.
Once you become diabetic, your pancreas malfunction for want of blood. Therefore, one has to de-stress oneself, relax the blood vessels and make the pancreas function again to get rid of the disease. There is no particular asana or pranayam against diabetes. Asanas are there to strengthen the pancreas and pranayams are there to get more ‘prana’ or energy to the body. You also need to do ‘sathkarmas’ to detoxify your body. Everything is connected and you have to select your practices properly to get rid of the disease.
Q: Even back pain is bothering people these days…
A: Back pain is the consequence of a sedentary lifestyle. Earlier, people did physical work. Now we sit a lot due to advances in technology and as a result the back muscles do not get enough exercise. When the muscles become weak, the ligaments become slack and the nerves in the vertebra get stretched. With the practice of the right kind of asanas, you can strengthen the back muscles, pulling the vertebra to set the nerves free.
Q) People have a very hectic schedule these days and they don’t have time to practice so many asanas and pranayamas…
A) Yoga nidra (yogic sleep) opens all the blood vessels in the body and relaxes the body and the mind together. This can be practiced on bed. It helps the body relax, repair and rejuvenate the system. There are various kinds of meditations and you can practice those while walking and moving as well. Some particular actions could also be practiced while sitting at the office or doing any work. The crux of the matter is you have to select your asanas as per your needs and prepare a routine accordingly. You could also break the routine into different segments and practice as per your convenience.
Q) Can yoga be learnt virtually – television or through social media platforms?
A) Yes. But you need a good teacher for this. Otherwise, it can have adverse effects. Yoga is not as simple as it’s assumed to be. This science has its rules and nuances. If overlooked, it can herald irreversible damages to the system.
Q) Tell us how and when did your yoga journey start?
A) I was in my twenties when I suffered bouts of illness. I was in and out of hospitals most of the time. I had a cervical spondylosis and visited hospital daily for physiotherapy. There was a library where I often visited to pick up books to find solutions to my ailments. Once, the librarian suggested I learn yoga. Once his wife came to my home and helped me get out of spondylosis. But it didn’t do much to my systemic problems. My body was not absorbing calcium and iron. I had developed anemia, a very bad insomnia and many more calcium deficiency syndromes.
Situation turned bad. Someone just asked what will happen if the contraction happens in my heart? Shuddering at this, I couldn’t sleep for the whole night. It affected my body, mind and psyche. My mother prodded me to go to Swami Satyanand’s ashram in Sambalpur as she was cured of diabetes there. I resisted initially, but later went there. To my surprise, all my ailments, except back pain, vanished within 15 days. The back pain persisted for two-three years. But ultimately I was cured. My tryst with yoga started from then. I had tried allopathy, homeopathy et al but in vain. It is yoga that has cured me.
Books Authored By Hota
Yoga And Diet For Ailments
Yoga For School Children
Yoga For Healthy Heart
Yoga For Cancer
Yoga To Prevent Youth And Beauty
Yoga And Meditation For All Ages
Yoga To Banish Backache
Yoga For Busy People
Healthy Oriya Cuisine