B.K.S Iyengar

BK.S Iyengar a back and breathing success story worth reading! from speaking with people who do this style Mr Iyengar has re-build many backs! 🙂

little windmill

B.K.S. Iyengar – The Ultimate Freedom Yoga [1976] from Praktijk Ourobouros on Vimeo.

Most yogis have heard of or practice Iyengar yoga, created by the late B.K.S Iyengar. My only knowledge of Iyengar himself was a few excerpts from the documentary Enlighten Up, and since then I have only heard more and more fascinating things about him. I took an Iyengar class in Brooklyn at the Yogasana Center. The thing I remember the most is that at one point in a Supta Baddha Konasana, we were using 7 props. At the time I thought that was ridiculous and excessive, but was later informed that Iyengar yoga is largely based on aligning the body in a perfect way.

Here is my personal summary of his life story:

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja, rightfully nicknamed B.K.S, was born dirt poor in an Indian village suffering from health epidemics in 1918…

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Another Rare Drugs Free Sighting! Flying without wings – someone who got off anticonvulsants!

I am very excited!

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about ‘Epilepsy drugs free – is it possible to fly without wings?’

This was about the one and only person I have ever read about managing epilepsy without anticonvulsant medication.

BUT I am happy to announce I was wrong!

There is MORE than one!

I have discovered a blogger who has recorded her journey towards anticonvulsant free epilepsy management and put it online!

It’s like Christmas! Well it nearly is in 3 weeks!

The link to the blog is here:

http://epilepsycure.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-min=2011-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2012-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=12

The blog, somewhat ambitiously titled ‘The Epilepsy Cure’ (Well why not reach for the stars?) Caught my eye straight away!

The first blog is January 2009

http://epilepsycure.blogspot.co.uk/2009_01_01_archive.html

And describes how the journey began.

The final blog is September 2011

http://epilepsycure.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-min=2011-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2012-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=12

In a nutshell this medical student blogged her way through coming off medication and has road tested nearly every natural therapy for epilepsy known to mankind. Not only that but at the end she and her partner are about to become 3!

Not a nearly extinct species either!

She emphasises this is not a guide, and that anyone reading should do their own research, but it really is a good read!

Enjoy!

Epilepsy in Chinese Medicine – ‘Towards a spirit of Peace’

‘Towards a spirit of peace’ is one of the most interesting texts I have ever read about epilepsy in the context of Chinese Medicine and is available on line. It is a work by an author named Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D. (see link below)(1).

This is NOT a text about epilepsy although it is covered, but rather it looks at a wider concept. The ‘Shen’ or ‘spirit’ in Chinese medicine and its embracing view of the body heart-mind in oriental medicine.

The ‘shen’ or ‘heart-mind’ is how I think about it in words, but mostly I would say ‘spirit of the heart’ is how I feel about it.

I feel that the role of the heart in Chinese medicine is seen as having a great deal to do with consciousness. From what I have read of Ayurveda it appears to be held as the same or similar.

In the west the heart is perhaps overshadowed by the brain’s electrical discharges, and the importance that is attached as the brain being the ‘hub’ of the body. (2)

The first chapter of this book goes to great lengths to explain the Shen, and so I will not go into it in depth, except to say that the heart is seen as ‘the Emperor’ in its role alongside the other organs of the body.

There are barriers that cause problems in understanding in relation to accessing information on Chinese medicine.

The Chinese language is written as ideograms, the sounds of the language all are totally alien to English language speakers. Variations in tone and pitch could be compared to learning to play a new musical instrument for the English tongue; a language that has you patting your head and rubbing your belly, and tap dancing all at the same time.

Then the philosophy, differences in thinking, the possible conflicts that arise from cultural, social, and religious beliefs.  The Great wall that surrounds China could be a metaphor for many barriers in understanding.

Why did I read this text?

The most beneficial part of my tai chi training by far has been in relation to training in awareness. Perhaps this is also called mindfulness? (3)

Without awareness I wouldn’t be able to feel seizures starting, I wouldn’t feel that my back hurts, my joints hurt and my belly is churning. Is my vagal nerve trying to tell me something? Is my anger or my fear or my grief making me ill?

I don’t know, but if I feel then I can try to understand.  If I am aware how I feel then perhaps I can change the emotion.

When I feel emotions, I am more likely to become ill, in particular if I don’t acknowledge them and where and how they have arisen.

This text talks about emotions in the context of ‘emotional equilibrium’ something I’m sure we all aspire to obtain but very, very few I suspect will achieve.

Even if we have fleeting glimmers of equilibrium, there may well be more emotional storms than sunny days.

Who feels good all the time anyway? Isn’t it part of being human to feel, in all the emotional colours?

My emotional storms are accompanied by lightening, this has given me extra motivation to want to look at how to heal them before they take a hold and turn into a thunderstorms.

It may be that describing it in words is not appropriate because it relates to feeling.

I don’t like being allergic to emotions.

The last time I cried for a day because I was sad, I had seizures for 2 days afterwards. I don’t know which is worse; crying because I am sad or the fact that if I cry then I’ll have a seizure.

Does this mean heart is broken?

I don’t think so, I still feel with my spirit the same as everyone else.

1)      http://www.itmonline.org/shen/index.htm

2)      http://www.wakingtimes.com/2012/09/12/the-heart-has-its-own-brain-and-consciousness/

3)      http://alysonyoga.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/whos-in-control-of-your-mind-one-benefit-of-mindfulness/

Epilepsy and the Circadian Rhythm – Do you dance to the beat of your own drum?

Exercising for many people can be a struggle, because of body image, obesity, lack of time or just lack of interest.

For myself it was seizures that were very much inhibiting movement.

One of the important factors in turning that around was the discovery of the Circadian Rhythm (1) and how it impacted on my hormones and seizure patterns.

I have always had difficulty keeping my alter ego ‘Wareruth’ under wraps. Husbands across the globe will hold testament to the fact that their nearest and dearest turn into unrecognisable creatures, with gnashing teeth that can only be consoled with chocolate bribes when the moon gets fat. For women with epilepsy this may be compounded by the problems that ‘Catamenial’ (2) epilepsy and oestrogen and progesterone fluctuations cause (3).

Since childhood I have always been more likely to have seizures on a monthly basis resulting from hormones, although it is not the reason why I have epilepsy.

I now monitor the situation closely and have found that my seizure pattern has changed over the years. This appears to be in time with the progesterone and oestrogen monthly cycle.

Changes in oestrogen production also occur around pregnancy. In women with epilepsy it also can cause marked changes at menopause as well (4).

Interestingly migraine is also commonly linked to the monthly cycle in some women (5).

Personally I find that pain management becomes a high priority at this time, my body in particular my back and my joints get really sensitive.

After trial and error no medication has controlled this.

On realising this was the case I had to find out how to ‘go with the flow’ sought of speak.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda seemed to be helpful because of their understanding of the endocrine system.

I would be very interested in finding out more about what Ayurveda has to say about epilepsy, the model I am most familiar with is TCM.

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) is based on the Five Element model (6). Within this model holds the key to understanding how seasons in the year and times of the day are attributed to different organs in the body (also known as the Circadium rhythm or biorhythms), and how these impact on the body.

For example the Kidneys are linked to winter and the element Water. The TCM model also incorporates the emotions into this model so the emotion that is attached to the kidneys is fear. The endocrine system is very sensitive to emotions (7),so understanding your emotional make up is a useful tool for managing potentially damaging emotions such as stress which may impact on epilepsy management.

Using methods like yoga – in particular Hatha yoga, ‘yin yoga’ (8) and Qigung (9); have brought me some relief from epilepsy symptoms, this includes meditation exercises of any form.

Yin Yoga, in particular, I found very helpful for acute problems at the wrong time of the month. Yin yoga postures that allow for supported deep relaxation on the floor allow me to feel in a place of safety as well as relax, stretch and release tension. My living room floor looks like a sofa the amount of cushions and blankets I use!

Having spent much of life hitting the floor, feeling safe on it is very reassuring. Letting gravity take its course without going south can be a good thing.

Equally I have found that standing poses in tai chi practice (although nothing in riding horse stance – sitting down into hips with legs wide apart this causes dizziness and nausea for me). Standing in Bear posture with feet shoulder width apart so the Kidney 1 points (10) on both feet are firmly anchored to the ground can also be highly beneficial for hormonal problems (I find).

Sadly wanting to run around and play with my friends is not something that results in good seizure management when my body is at its most sensitive. Neither is activating the sympathetic system. There is a delicate balance between doing too much and too little. I defiantly don’t want to be rolling around or standing on my head at high risk times.

I’m not saying I wrap myself in cotton wool, but from my experience pushing to exercise my body when it’s vulnerable can cause further seizures. If I listen to my body and give it some respect when it needs tender loving care, problems don’t crop up so much.

Throughout the day, one of the most positive changes that has helped in my seizure management was being able to lye down for 20 minutes at lunch times.  This is either to close my eyes and rest or meditate. This meant that I have a chance to de-stress, re-charge and avoid overtiring which caused further seizures.  This has really reduced seizure problems associated with overtiredness and stress.

My Qigung and tai chi instructors (11) are very passionate about ‘lying chi gung’. The hours between 11am and 1pm are known as ‘heart time’ on the Chinese Clock and for this reason it is identified as a good time to rest the heart.

Although this is not an exact science – like the rhythm method of birth control (don’t take risks – I always take my medication), having some understanding of how hormones can be managed through exercise or not has been really helpful to me.

For the best results I find continual practice of yoga or chi gung and tai chi are what is most effective in order to have preventative and long term health benefits.

It is unfortunate that my favourite pastime – calculating how many endorphins are in one cubic centimetre of chocolate Marsbar – is probably not helpful to my hormone balance or blood sugar! 🙂

If you have epilepsy and have any experience of the above I would be very interested in hearing your management strategies and any tips are always welcome!

If you have any experience of complementary or integrative medicine I would also like to hear your thoughts on this as I find it fascinating and would welcome hearing from anyone else’s experience.

I like dancing, finding my own beat has meant that I can enjoy the music of life.

1)       http://www.jcircadianrhythms.com/

2)      http://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/women/your-periods-menstrual-cycle

3)      http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/michael+r-+trimble/women+and+epilepsy/3569072/

4)      http://professionals.epilepsy.com/page/hormones_menopause.html

5)      http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Migraine-Triggered-by-Periods.htm

6)      http://www.tcmbasics.com/basics_5elements.htm

7)      http://candacepert.com/biography/

8)      http://www.sarahpowers.com/

9)      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qigong

10)   http://www.acupuncture.com/education/points/kidney/kid1.htm

11)   http://www.uktqf.co.uk/