News From KRI – August
This wonderful immersion training takes place on the blessed tropical island of Bali amidst the indigenous beauty of the people and culture, which is steeped in spiritual and ceremonial tradition. Register early – last year’s Bali Level One Immersion program sold-out!
by Ishpreet Singh, M.B.B.S. and Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D.
Epilepsy is a disorder in which recurrent seizures are caused by abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. A person is diagnosed with epilepsy if they have two unprovoked seizures (or one unprovoked seizure with the likelihood of more) that were not caused by some known and reversible medical condition. There are different types of seizures. Generalized onset seizures affect both sides of the brain or groups of cells on both sides of the brain at the same time. On the other hand, focal onset seizures can start in one area or group of cells in one side of the brain. Epileptic seizures are the result of excessive and abnormal neuronal activity in the cortex of the brain and often brought on by factors such as stress, alcohol abuse, flickering light, or a lack of sleep, among others. An electroencephalogram (EEG) to look for abnormal patterns of brain waves and neuroimaging (CT scan or MRI) to look at the structure of the brain are also usually part of the diagnostic evaluation. In the United States, epilepsy affects an estimated 2.2 to 2.3 million people. The key driver of direct costs in epilepsy is medical service expenditures, which are substantial. However, the overwhelming majority of total costs are attributable to indirect costs such as job absenteeism. For general epilepsy populations, total annual direct healthcare costs per person ranged from $10,192 to $47,862 and epilepsy‐specific costs ranged from $1,022 to $19,749. These costs are a healthcare burden that needs to be addressed.
Epilepsy cannot usually be cured outright, but pharmaceutical medications can control seizures effectively in about 70 percent of the cases. The mainstay treatment of epilepsy is anticonvulsant medications, possibly for the person’s entire lifespan. Trials of single medications are recommended initially. However, if this is not effective, two medications simultaneously may be prescribed. Medications available include older antiepileptic drugs such as phenytoin, carbamazepine, and valproate and newer ones which include lamotrigine, levetiracetam, zonisamide, etc. Adverse effects from medications are reported in 10 to 90 percent of people. Most adverse effects are dose-related and mild and can include mood changes, sleepiness, or unsteadiness in gait. Certain medications have side effects that are not related to dose such as rashes, liver toxicity, or suppression of the bone marrow. Importantly, up to a quarter of people stop treatment due to adverse effects and some medications are not appropriate during pregnancy. Therefore, there is a need for alternative, nonpharmacological interventions.
There is credible and mounting evidence that yoga and meditation practices can improve stress, psychophysiological hyperarousal, and psychological well-being, and may be helpful in treating clinical problems such as depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. The relationship between stress and epilepsy is well known. Stress leads to release of glucocorticoids, neuropeptides, and corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), which can excite immature hippocampal neurons and cause seizures, resulting in a vicious cycle. A majority of adult patients with medically refractory epilepsies have mesial temporal lobe epilepsy. Yoga and meditation interventions may modulate the disturbed limbic system activity in such patients and may help to maintain normal homeostatic conditions. Stress reduction and subjective feelings of well-being may be important factors contributing to seizure reduction and EEG changes ascribed to some forms of meditation. Yoga is thought to achieve seizure control through experience-related plasticity or through a shift in autonomic output toward relative parasympathetic dominance. Other proposed mechanisms of yoga benefit include EEG desynchronization and activation of inhibitory circuits through vagal nerve stimulation. One study has suggested that yoga training stimulates the vagus nerve, which may be relevant because electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve has been shown to decrease seizure frequency by 28 to 38 percent. There is therefore a positive rationale for the therapeutic role of yoga and meditation practices.
However, there has been controversy about the link between meditation practice and the neurological disorder of epilepsy. Some have suggested the concern that brain states induced by meditation could be conducive to triggering seizures in epileptics or could trigger epilepsy with patients with no known history or risk factors for epilepsy. The proposed epileptogenic influence of meditation is based on observed meditation-induced alterations in neurophysiology (hypersynchrony and increased coherence of brain activity) and neurochemistry (release of glutamate and serotonin). A study in 1993 found a significantly large incidence of complex partial epilepsy-like signs and experiences in meditators compared to controls. The study presented data of 221 meditators who displayed these signs compared to 860 non-meditators. However, several studies on patients with epilepsy practicing meditation have actually demonstrated improvement in seizure frequency and duration and EEG profile. A study published in 1995 has shown that experiences of unbounded awareness (transcendental consciousness) during meditation are correlated with specific physiological changes, e.g., global increase in EEG coherence, slowing of respiration and heart rate, and increased basal skin resistance. These changes are not epileptic-like and are not pathological but are positively correlated with intelligence, creativity, and mental health.
A number of studies have further attested to the safety and efficacy of yoga practices in epilepsy. Two unblinded randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in 1996 and 2008, recruited a total of 50 adults with refractory epilepsy and compared any type of classical Indian yoga to control conditions with no intervention or interventions such as yoga-mimicking exercises or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Results of the overall efficacy analysis showed that yoga treatment was better when compared with no intervention or interventions other than yoga. These data also suggested that yoga may have a role as an adjuvant therapy in the management of autonomic dysfunction in patients with refractory epilepsy.
A recent review paper on mindfulness-based interventions for epilepsy published in 2017 described three RCTs with a total of 231 participants in the USA (n = 171) and Hong Kong (n = 60). Significant improvements were reported in depression symptoms, quality of life, anxiety, and depression. Despite positive findings, the authors noted significant design limitations including unclear or high risk of bias, low statistical power, lack of measurement of longer-term effects, limited accounting for confounding factors, no measures of home practice, and poor reporting of randomization procedures, adverse events, and reasons for subject drop-outs. This systematic review concluded that there is limited evidence for the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions in epilepsy, however preliminary evidence suggests it may lead to some improvement in anxiety, depression, and quality of life.
In summary, yoga interventions may contribute positively to the treatment of epilepsy by enhancing quality of life and by decreasing seizure activity. Yoga interventions can be integrated into an outpatient clinic with good results, are noninvasive and low cost, and can be conducted even in the presence of language barriers and cultural differences. However, much more rigorous research needs to be conducted in this field and yoga can only be justified as an adjunctive treatment to antiepileptic drugs at the present time and should not generally be used as the sole treatment method.
Ishpreet Singh is a medical doctor and researcher from the Dayanand Medical College in India. He has worked extensively in India and USA with individuals with mental health and neurological disorders and is inclined towards integrating eastern yogic and meditation methods into mainstream medicine. He is an avid practitioner of Kundalini Yoga and meditation and brings this as a tool to help people heal, addressing deeper causes of illness and disease.
Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D. is the KRI Director of Research, Research Director for the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He has practiced a Kundalini Yoga lifestyle since 1973 and is a KRI certified Kundalini Yoga instructor. He has conducted research on yoga for insomnia, stress, anxiety disorders, and yoga in public schools. He is editor in chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy and The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care and author of the Harvard Medical School ebook Your Brain on Yoga.
As many of you know, August is a special time of year for us. Yogi Bhajan’s birthday brings an opportunity to celebrate and remember our beloved teacher. His words and wisdom have given us a technology that transcends time. Here at the at The Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings we are working hard to preserve his words in their original form.
We are gearing up for our Summer Fundraiser in honor of the birthday of Yogi Bhajan. From August 22nd to 26th, we will be raising money for The Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings Endowment Fund. Our endowment is a savings account for the future of the library that, when full funded, will pay for the expenses of preserving the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. It will allow us to continue offering this precious resource, for free, to the future generations of yogis. Stay tuned as we will be sharing the easy ways that you can contribute to the Endowment Fund.
“I hope you will give a chance to your future and see your future, and you will put every negative, positive, neutral, nothing, everything into it. So that when your children become people tomorrow, they should pray for you.” Yogi Bhajan, January 7th,1990
As we celebrate his life and the legacy of Yogi Bhajan, remember the infinite ways in which your life has been impacted by these priceless teachings and how they have profoundly changed who you are as a person. As you feel the depth of their impact and see their presence in each day, please consider giving back to the teachings! Your gifts will help build the Endowment Fund to support the Library of Teachings being offered to the world for free… for generations to come.
“Guru has laid the path, let us walk it. Let us not serve the lineage, let us serve the legacy” Yogi Bhajan, January 31st, 1993
Shabd Simran Kaur Adeniji, Fundraising Coordinator
The Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings®
Kundalini Research Institute
Find us on Facebook “The Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings”
The Yogi Bhajan Library of Teachings® is a non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible under IRS code 501(c)(3).
Make this your year to experience India – The Guru Ram Das Chetna Yatra
Have you longed to travel to India and see the Golden Temple? Make this your year to celebrate the birthday of Guru Ram Das in Amritsar. Join us October 23rd to 28th for the Guru Ram Das Chetna Yatra. Chetna is a beautiful word that means to “awaken.” This yatra will be a trip of seva and devotion to awaken the love of Guru Ram Das in the sangat and in ourselves.
“Yatra is a holy journey. We must go into the center, the heart center. It is a journey on earth to one’s ‘Isht’ – one’s higher self, one’s altar. It is a self-purification. So, we go from here to designated holy places and we have no other work but to get up in the morning, to meditate, to go to those beautiful surroundings. Sometimes our mind hassles us, but we do conquer it. This is the purpose of Yatra.” –Yogi Bhajan
The schedule of the Yatra will be:
- On October 23rd and 24th, together with our Kirtan jathas (musical groups), the Yatra will attend programs around Amritsar, the home of Guru Ram Das. Most mornings will be at your leisure for meditating at the beautiful Golden Temple, fantastic shopping, and exploring the city Amritsar.
- On October 25th, we will join Miri Piri Academy and the huge sangat of Amritsar in the streets for a procession in honor of Guru Ram Das ji. That night, we will attend the famous Raag Kirtan Darbar to hear classical Kirtan, including our own Chardi Kala Jatha.
- On October 26th, we will celebrate Guru Ram Das’ birthday with tens of thousands of devotees at the Golden Temple. The crowds will be big, and our spirits will be soaring!
- On October 28th, we will complete the Yatra with Sunday Gurdwara at Miri Piri Academy, tour the campus, and enjoy langar at the school.
This is a very basic and affordable yatra that covers your hotel and transportation around Amritsar. It is a wonderful way to experience Guru Ram Das’ birthday and the Golden Temple with friends and other Kundalini yogis.
Join us and awaken to the love of Guru Ram Das.
The Master’s Touch
On Being a Sacred Teacher for the New Age
Yogi Bhajan, PhD.
Master of Kundalini Yoga
This book is for every student of Truth. Whatever path you have chosen, it will give you an understanding of the true meaning of mastery. In this superb collection of teachings from his “Master’s Touch” courses, Yogi Bhajan, one of the most pragmatic spiritual Teachers of our time, explains the path of the Teacher. He does it with wit, compassion, and a practical sense of the challenges of daily life.
The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan
The Power of the Spoken Word
Yogi Bhajan, PhD
This is a book of timeless wisdom transmitted by one of the great teachers of the age. It has the power to make people happy in moments of sadness and to lift their spirits in times of depression. It is a powerful tool to clean the subconscious mind and to replace negative thought patterns with positive ones. Its inner secret is the power of the spoken word.
Laws of Life
The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan
Edited by Hargopal Kaur Khalsa
Over the years, Yogi Bhajan outlined hundreds of Laws to live by. This book is a small gem, a collection of Yogi Bhajan quotations and meditations for living a life of joy, kindness and compassion.
The law of happiness is, “Let things come to you.” What comes to you will make you happy. What you go after shall make you miserable.
Kundalini Yoga with the Master
The Kundalini Yoga with the Master DVD Series is your chance to practice a demanding physical kriya with Yogi Bhajan. The all new picture-in-picture guide shows the proper posture and timing while you are challenged to “Keep Up!” by the Master himself.
Volume 1: Energize Your System
Featured in Owner’s Manual for the Human Body
Among other benefits, this kriya contains exercises to:
-energize the heart chakra and stomach
-give power to the immune system
-adjust the spine
-cleanse the liver and purify the blood
Volume 2: Balance the Vayus
Featured in Owner’s Manual for the Human Body
There are five principal Vayus: Praana moving in the heart area; Udaana in the throat; Samaana in the navel region; Apaana in the pelvic floor; and Vyaana which circulates throughout the whole body. This set moves all five Vayus of the body and brings equilibrium to the glandular system.
Volume 3: For Mental Balance
Featured in Owner’s Manual for the Human Body
Concludes with Yogi Bhajan playing the gong while you nap. Yogi Bhajan said that by regularly practicing the first and second exercise in this kriya for three minutes each and then repeating frog pose 108 times you can achieve physical and mental health.
Volume 4: Optimum Health
Featured in Owner’s Manual for the Human Body
Refine your radiance with Optimum Health. This physically demanding set is balanced with great moments of relaxation including an 11-minute nap to Guru Ram Das Lullaby and a gong meditation.
Volume 5: Automatic Endurance
featured in the manual Owner’s Manual for the Human Body
Let this DVD show you:
– Conscious breath for total self-purification
– The Power of baby pose
– How to develop tolerance, grit and nerves of steel
Volume 6: Wake Up the Body to Handle Stress and Strain
Featured in the manual Owner’s Manual for the Human Body
This video contains ideal exercises to do in bed or just out of bed first thing in the morning!
Volume 7: Yogic Salutations
Featured in the manual Self Knowledge
This kriya incorporates a variety of salutations including:
– Narda Pranaam
– Hans Pranaam
– Guru Pranaam
Volume 8: Massage for the Lymphatic System
Featured in the manual Physical Wisdom
Stimulating eliminative movement in the lymphatic system is essential to a strong body and healthy immune system. Give your lymphatic system a massage with this original kriya taught by Yogi Bhajan!
All DVDs in this series:
Regular Retail: $19.95 per DVD
Promo: $16.96 per DVD
Or get the entire set for the everyday low “set price” of $119.70 (25% off full retail)
Bring a fiery taste of Summer Solstice back home with you!
Summer Quinoa & Veggie Salad
From Vegetables, With Love: Recipes and Tales from a Yogi’s Kitchen
(Revised and Expanded New Edition)
Siri-Ved Kaur Khalsa
Yield: 4–6 servings
This healthy, Mediterranean-inspired salad is light but satisfying, and perfect for the warmer summer months. Serve as a small salad or enjoy alone as a meal. Keeps well in the fridge for a few days.
2–3 cups cooked quinoa
4 small Persian cucumbers or 1 large cucumber, chopped into small pieces
1-pint cherry or pear tomatoes cut into halves
1-bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
¼ cup finely chopped chives or scallions
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
For the Dressing
Extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ large lemon or full small lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced very fine
Salt and pepper to taste
Put cooked and cooled quinoa in a large mixing bowl and combine the rest of the salad ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together dressing ingredients and then pour over salad and toss well.
Serving Options: Garnish with chopped avocado, add hemp seeds or nuts of choice, and/or serve atop chopped arugula, raw kale, or mixed lettuces.