You probably already know that epilepsy is a neurological disorder which is associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The symptoms of this condition include sensory disturbances, losing consciousness, or convulsions. There are around 10 million people in India suffering from epilepsy; this number contributes to one-sixth of the global incidences of epilepsy.
Some of the causes behind epilepsy include stroke, brain tumour, brain injury, infection of the brain, genetic influence, and other developmental disorders. Now, the main cause of concern is that seizures can occur at any time, leading to fatal incidents that include car accidents and drowning which can cause sudden death. Epilepsy also leads to complications during pregnancy and affect one’s emotional and mental well-being.
The vagus nerves are connected to parts of the brain associated with seizures. The vagus nerves are the longest nerves in the body that control functions such as swallowing and speech. Branching off from the brain, this nerve travels down the neck, all the way to the intestinal tract. Stimulation of the vagus nerves may offer relief from the symptoms of epilepsy in many cases.
There are many pieces of research that point to the benefits of yoga practice for patients suffering from epilepsy. According to a review published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry in 2012, yoga can help reduce the frequency of seizures, change brainwaves and improve quality of life. Yoga stimulates the vagus nerve, bringing epileptic seizure frequency down by about 30 per cent.
Please practice the following asanas under the guidance of an expert teacher. These postures need to be performed under the supervision of a professional and cannot be done in a group class with general instructions. The practice will need to be modified according to individual needs and corresponding medical conditions.
Here are some yoga asanas that can prove effective for those who have been diagnosed with epilepsy:
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Stand straight and keep your arms by the sides of your body. Lean forward and slowly place your knees on the mat. Place your pelvis on your heels and point your toes outward. Your thighs should press your calf muscles. Keep your heels slightly apart from each other. Place your palms on your knees, facing upward. Straighten your back and look forward. Hold this asana for a while.
Stand straight with your arms by your side and feet apart. Now, sit down but ensure you’re on your feet and have not placed your buttocks on the floor. Place your pelvis over your heels. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, place your palms on the floor beside your feet or join them in front of your chest in a gesture of prayer.
iii) Savithri asana
Drop your knees to the ground gently and keep your upper body straight. Start with Sukshma Vyayam or subtle exercises to warm up the body. Stretch your arms up to the sky with your palms facing each other. Look forward and hold.
Begin by standing in Samasthithi. Start with your right leg. lifting it off the floor and balance your body weight on your left leg. Place your right foot on your left inner thigh. Place it as close to your pelvis as possible. You may support your foot with your palms to bring it in place. Balance and join your palms in Pranam Mudra at your heart chakra. Focus your gaze forward. Repeat the same with the alternate leg.
Stand upright with your toes touching and heels together. Draw in your abdomen and relax your shoulders. Take 5 to 8 breaths while actively engaging your leg muscles. Try to balance your body weight on both feet equally. It’s a great pose to keep the postures tall and strong.
Stress is known to be a major trigger for seizures. Yoga is a holistic science that helps in stress management. By keeping your stress levels under control with regular yoga practice, you can reduce the frequency of your seizures. Yoga eliminates anxiety and depression, improving the quality of life.
These asanas can help make the condition more manageable for those suffering from epilepsy. Do keep in mind that you should consult your doctor before you start practising yoga.