Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Body clock and yoga practice

(Image from this site)
Chronotherapy, an infant science, is therapy based on individual body clock. In  the west awareness about this is a low five per cent among medical practitioners, yet the nascent science is inviting rigorous research.  But yogic systems and related sciences like ayurveda, pulse diagnosis, marma kalai, mudra therapy follow or combine therapy by timing it with body’s cylces. They have followed this system for centuries.

For example,  yoga (or any exercise) is best done during 4 to 6 a.m. or 4 to 6 p.m, because this is tied to the body’s blood pressure cycle.  Even meditation is best during brahmamuhurta or hour of creation, from 4 to 6 am.  After this, when blood pressure surges, brain turns chaotic. Yoga food timings include a hearty breakfast before 11 a.m., a light dinner before 8 p.m, designed with the body clock in mind.(Most religions also advocate prayers at this time, as in Islam the first namaz). 
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 From 10 am to noon, is said to be pitta or fire time. This is the time when hunger is felt acutely. A nourishing breakfast ensures maximum nutrient absorption in the small intestine where the broken-down food reaches by 2 p.m. Dinner is light since the body is preparing for winding down, its metabolism is decelerating.

The reason yoga advises early rising is also due to the body clock: from 4 to 6 am is colon time. During this time elimination and excretion is advised since the body is prepared to throw out its wastes then. Sleeping through this time means the water from the accumulated toxic waste is reabsorbed by the body during its forced rest. 

Even fasting is timed, in yoga. Yoga, like other spiritual practices, approves of fasting based on lunar calendars. Today science proves the merit in this. Body’s detoxification is at its peak during new moon day.  Food and their nature and element in each are also very delicately linked. Timing your food with this is another esoteric section of study in ayurveda.

Even before the west woke up to the idea of Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression coloured by the dark seasons, yoga had predicted that. It suggested that lack of sunlight and its contact on the forehead could make a person depressed. That may explain the yogic rule about doing sun salutes facing the sun, or planning a `sun bath’ that is timed with the sunrise or sunset.  In fact, post sunset sun salutations are not advised, as also pranayama. Similarly inversions must never be done after sunset, since the body has begun to change its rhythm and a different type of prana or life force is said to flow. Inversions activate the nervous system, which may explain why it is not advised before sleep time.  Different set of poses like the chandra namaskar, which work on different organ systems,  like the urogenital system, are in fact recommended.

This sort of intrinsic  awareness of the body’s rhythm and experiencing it through daily practice ensures that a serious yoga practitioner usually adheres to its  rules of ablutions and food timings rigorously.

(Below, how acupuncture looks at choronotherapy, from this site) 

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