Ramesh Bijlani has rendered a lucid explication of ‘the too complex and misunderstood aspects of yoga’. After a span of 30 years, serving as a faculty at AIIMS, he took recourse to treatment through yoga. His fervent zeal in the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother led to this book. ‘Integral yoga is a very powerful synthesis of different schools of yoga.’ As Gita says it, ‘yoggasthya kuru karmani’, all actions can be performed with a yogic poise. ‘Yoga is a way of life which facilitates spiritual quest. It is a journey towards perfection.’
The cultural impresario of India, Dr Karan Singh has sufficed his foreword to the book. He mentions, ‘All life is yoga’, thus spake Sri Aurobindo. Yoga accelerates the spritual sojourn by providing a conducive ground of a healthy body and a purified mind. Again P.K. Dave, former director AIIMS in his remark says, ‘yoga doesn’t suffice for calisthenics’ but instead attunes and streamlines the body-mind concord.
Integral Yoga ‘aims at a collective psychospiritual transformation by dealing with the ego, dealing with desires, surrendering oneself, learning to accept diverse situations with equanimity, profess love and involve sincerity. He devotes the chapter ’Demystifying Meditation’ upon the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Asthanga yogas forming the crux of Raja Yoga. Therein he discusses the practice of ‘pratyahara’ meaning sensory withdrawal.
Ramesh Bijlani has devoted an entire section over lifestyle disorders having chapters on certain core areas fraught with attitudinal negligence and distorted habit. ‘The poor back’ deals with the pervasive problem of vertebral column arising primarily due to bad posture. He discusses certain common ailments such as ‘slip disc’ which stands a misnomer for ‘disc prolapse’ wherein there is no disc slipping out instead wearing out of annulus, a tough ring that gives way and ruptures to eject some of its inner jelly like content. He recommends pertinent asanas to fix the problem.
The author has blacklisted gluttony as he has monikered the chapter with ‘the mother of many maladies’ for an inebriated urge to gorge turns disastrous. He lays increased emphasis on increased intake of dietary fibre. He cites an interesting instance.
‘One burfi, one vada, one samosa and a cup of tea are not difficult to have, and would contain about 500 calories. To get 500 calories from apples, one would need about 800 grams of apples, which is the weight of about seven apples. Very few would find it easy to have seven apples in on sitting. Further, because of the tendency of fibre to soak water, it swells up to form a viscous mass. Hence, fibre swells up in the stomach and we feel full’.
Ramesh Bijlani dwells on sleep disorders. He turns the master-key by quoting The Mother, ‘To sleep well one must learn how to sleep’. He analyses the state of deep dreamless sleep and the phase of rapid eye movement (REM). He elaborates on sleeplessness and sleep apnea as well as the repercussions of inadequate sleep. He raises one apt question, ‘what should one do if one is unable to sleep?’. He advises certain prudent strategies and a corrective lifestyle.
Ramesh Bijlani spills some myth-busters. About alcohol doing good to heart, he says that it has not been well-established but alcohol is certainly bad for liver. He adds, ‘wine may do some good to the heart because of its antioxidant content and not because of its alcohol content.
- It is preferable to get nutrients from fruits and vegetables rather than from alcohol’.
- He disdains upon sugar intake.
- About olive oil, he doesn’t attach any special importance in diet while he recommends traditional oils like mustard oil and soybean oil along with small amounts of saturated oils such as butter, coconut oil, ghee or palmoleinas these complement for polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).
- Spices are a rich source of phytochemicals. ‘A moderate amount of spices help in improving the diet.’
- About caffeine containing fizz drinks, he quotes Dean Ornish ‘caffeine does not give energy, it borrows energy from the future’. Consumption of such drinks brings ‘temporary alertness and elevation of mood’ instantaneously but after an hour it turns even worse than before.
His lucid exposition with diagrams makes the book an exhilarating account for lay readers and medical practitioners alike to imbibe upon the nuggets of wisdom. His enlisted yogic practices for lifestyle disorders quench the parched throats of ailing bodies. A new path unfolds when the readers troll down the discerning ‘words of wisdom’ to bolster their faith in the maverick yoga and ward off their untoward fears as Sri Aurobindo says,
‘it should take long for self-cure to replace medicine, because of the fear, self-distrust and unnatural physical reliance on drugs which medical science has taught to our minds and bodies and made our second nature’.
This book efficaciously dispels these morbid credos of the populace with profundity to establish that yoga is the finest lifestyle ever devised. (Rupa & Co., 7/16, Ansari Road, Darya Ganj, New Delhi-110 002.)