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Yoga for Epilepsy

Epilepsy is defined as a tendency to have repeated seizures that originate in the brain. Epilepsy can develop at any age. However, it is diagnosed most often before the age of 20 and after the age of 60. Epilepsy is a disorder with many possible causes. Anything that disturbs the normal pattern of neuron activity - from illness to brain damage to abnormal brain development -can lead to seizures. Epileptic seizures are due to a temporary interruption of brain activity, causing disturbance of consciousness or impaired awareness, strange or out of place sensations, or changes in movement or posture.

Primary Epilepsy is considered as "Adhija  Vyadhi" – a disease caused by an internal imbalance within the system and not caused by an outside agent (such as infection). Although we know that external causes like head injury (old or recent) or infections (old or recent) can cause the epilepsy the commonest type of epilepsy has hereditary tendency as the cause. Stress anxiety, loss or lack of sleep, flickering light, fast breathing are some of the known triggers that could be the immediate cause for an attack.

The brain is a highly complex structure composed of millions of nerve cells (neurons) that generate and conduct electrical currents. These are responsible for a wide range of functions including consciousness, awareness, movement, body posture etc. In Epilepsy, the normal pattern of neuronal activity becomes disturbed leading to signal abnormality.

Yoga defines this internal imbalance as an excessivere activity to situation (known/unknown) at manomaya,  kosa. This speed 'Vega' at the manomaya kosa triggers off very high electrical potentials in too many nerve cells in different parts of the brain. This heightened activity sends down a bigshock that shows up as altered consciousness and body movements.

Once epilepsy is diagnosed, it is important to begin treatment as soon as possible. Most people with epilepsy lead outwardly normallives. While epilepsy cannot currently be cured, for some people it do eseventually go away. Most seizures do not cause brain damage. It is not uncommonfort people with epilepsy, especially children, to develop behavioral and emotional problems, sometimes the consequence of embarrassment and frustrationor bullying, teasing, or avoidance in school and other social setting. For many people with epilepsy, the risk of seizures restricts their independence (some states refuse drivers licenses to people with epilepsy) and recreational activities.

Most women with epilepsy can become pregnant, but they should discuss their epilepsy and the medications they are taking with their doctors.Women with epilepsy have a 90 percent or better chance of having a normal, healthy baby.

Yoga therapy aims at developing master over these excitations by training to develop an internal balance through technique of slowing down of activity at all levels. It is the deep rest to the mind body complex that heals.

The brain cells have to be given very deep rest by conscious slowing down of thoughts though meditation. Hence loud chanting followed by mental chanting of AAA, UUU, MMM and OM as used in our Mind Sound Resonance technique (MSRT) is a very useful tool for epileptics. Any form of meditation which does not allow you to go off to partial sleep is very useful. Meditationusing body movements (Tai Chi, Cyclic meditation) or chanting (Om meditation, MSRT) or Devotion to the divine (MEMT) or observing slow breathing may all be used.

This article has been written by Dr. R. Nagarathna, Dean, Division of Yoga & Life-sciences, SVYASA
This article is published online courtesy
and Arogyadhama

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