Lifestyle Medicine: Part VI: Yoga and Health
Did you watch the recent French Open tennis finals in Paris? Novak Djokovic exhibited a spectacular display of power tennis and won the championship, becoming the player to hold the record of winning the maximum number of Grand Slam tournaments. What has this got to do with yoga, you ask? Well, Djokovic is a totally committed yoga enthusiast and regular practitioner of yoga. And he embraces “the physical side of the discipline as well as the more spiritual, reflective practices of meditation and prayer.” Djokovic once said, yoga and meditation help him stay at an optimal state of mind and have peace and calm in life. There are several other tennis players like Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, etc., and many other well-known athletes who avidly practice yoga.
We just celebrated the International Yoga Day on June 21, and this annual celebration originally proposed by our great Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga. The original draft resolution establishing the International Day of Yoga was proposed by India and endorsed by a record 175 member states. So, it has become a practice of global significance.
You want to keep your body healthy and running as long as you can, right? A fit and healthy body – mentally and physically – brings discipline, motivation and happiness to all aspects of your life. As the saying goes, a “healthy mind in a healthy body” is what you need to lead a happy life. For this, you need to observe four things at the minimum. 1. Aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, swimming, bicycling, etc. Done regularly, this improves your cardiopulmonary fitness, especially your heart health. 2. Flexibility training to keep your joints and muscles healthy and in shape. Hatha Yoga would be ideal for this. 3. Breathing exercises to keep your lungs working well, so the much vital oxygenation in the blood will be maintained. As we always say, you are only as good as your last breath. So, your lung function is important, and this is where Pranayama or yogic breathing comes in. 4. Spirituality and mindful meditation. The practice of meditation helps in “improving the quality of sleep, relieving stress and boosting the immune system” as the famous Guru Daaji says.
Now, let us look at the many health benefits of regular Yoga practice. It is now well known that there is considerable healing power in regular yoga practice. This will include the physical part or Hatha Yoga, breathing exercises or Pranayama and the yogic or at least a modified yogic diet – primarily vegetarian based with no vices like smoking or excessive alcohol usage. This results in greater strength, increased flexibility, more energy, better balance and more. Add to that ‘Mindful Meditation,’ which decreases physiological stress and unwanted arousal in the body (more about meditation later.) Adding yoga to aerobic exercises will also help lower high blood pressure, one of the most prevalent medical conditions with great potential for complications.
As you get older, you become frail, and your core muscles become weak. You lose balance and tend to fall resulting in many serious injuries, a major cause of mortality in the elderly. As per a recent Harvard newsletter, “Strengthening your core muscles is one of the best ways to ensure you stay active and independent as you age. That’s because your core muscles are critical for nearly every move you make, from bending and stretching to twisting and standing.” Yoga exercises are helpful for this. “Soothing, effective yoga moves make it so simple to build strength and flexibility, boost energy, melt away tension, improve mobility, and more!”
To be continued …
M.P. Ravindra Nathan, M.D., is a cardiologist and Emeritus Editor of AAPI Journal. For further reading, “Second Chance - A Sister’s Act of Love” by Dr. Nathan from Outskirts Press, can be found at www.amazon.com
Think SMALL, See BIG! FDA Approves another New Lens Implant for Cataract Surgery
The United States FDA has approved IC-8 Apthera IOL for the treatment of cataracts. With over 24 million people in the U.S. alone affected by cataracts (blurriness of vision due to the aging of the natural lens), this lens implant adds one more choice to the ever-expanding range of premium lens implant technologies that patients can select during cataract surgery.
I like to explain this lens technology with an analogy of a camera where a smaller aperture brings about a pinhole effect of what is called small aperture optics. This allows a greater depth of vision, including extended range of clear vision at distance and near.
Many cataract patients still select basic monofocal lens implants over premium lens technology for their cataract surgery due to either cost issues or lack of knowledge and sometimes even limited choices offered by certain practices. While basic monofocal lenses can provide acceptable vision outcomes in simple cases, there is always a compromise at distance or near vision.
There are many firsts to this lens technology – the first small aperture Intraocular Lens implant (IOL) to receive FDA approval; implantation with a monofocal or monofocal toric (astigmatism correcting) IOL in the fellow eye; extended depth of focus lens indicated for monovision (where one eye sees at distance and the other, up close); and non-toric IOL indicated for cataract patients with low amounts of corneal astigmatism.
As discussed in my previous columns (KhaasBaat), there are many premium lenses that also correct reading vision along with distance vision. Examples include multifocal lenses, accommodative, pseudo- accommodative, extended depth of focus, bifocal, trifocal, X wave technology including post-surgical, light adjustable lenses. Many of the presbyopia-correcting lens designs have complex optics that split, shift or stretch light to provide clear vision at more than one discrete focal point.
In contrast, this lens implant, with its proprietary small aperture technology, seamlessly provides excellent distance vision as well as clear intermediate and near vision, effectively mitigating in most cases the effects of presbyopia (reading glasses).
Now, as you can imagine, a technology that focuses only on the central rays of light that come in through the clear, central corneal portion while avoiding the peripheral cornea, may decrease the visual field of vision for that patient, which may be especially detrimental during low light conditions like nighttime driving.
Additionally, this lens should not be used in people with macular degeneration or retinal problems as once again comparing it to a camera, if the film of the camera is bad and you decrease the aperture, you are now bringing the rays of light to a damaged part of the retina (film).
I continue to share my experience with eye surgeons using advanced technology, including new generation premium lens implants where we are able to correct vision at most distances in cataract patients who may have had previous refractive surgeries (Lasik, PRK, SMILE, Radial Keratotomy, etc.) or have distorted or damaged corneas (corneal scars, irregular astigmatism), that make measurability of the lens implant less accurate. But this technology should surely include patients whose cornea is so distorted that it's nearly immeasurable, especially in cases of corneal scars, extreme keratoconus, multiple incisional radial keratotomy, Lasik, PRK or Smile complications.
Because in these cases, the ability to measure an accurate lens implant power (which depends on the measurability of the cornea) is so reduced and inaccurate that this lens implant, which enhances the pinhole effect, may be the only option for clear and sustainable vision. That is as opposed to a corneal transplant in association or staged with cataract surgery.
So, in summary, I personally feel the new lens implant technology, though another step forward in the ever-expanding choices of premium lens implant cataract surgery, becomes a powerful tool in those cases, especially where measurability is in question, while also visual clarity is impacted enough to choose to possibly compromise some visual field to gain functional vision.