Fasting And Yoga
Health Benefits Of Fasting
It is a fact that most of our diseases, whether physical or mental, are caused by overeating. Nobody dies of less eating or fasting, but many people die of overeating. By overeating, the digestive system is disturbed and the body becomes prone to diseases as an imbalance is created in the body. By fasting, a balance can be created in the digestive system and also in nervous, circulatory and coronary systems. The relationship between fasting and the physical and mental health has been given hereunder, and also how fasting can help in better spiritual experiences.
Fasting reduces the tamasic element in the body. Tamas is the greatest obstacle to meditation. While fasting, we shed extra weight from the body and gain strength and clarity of mind. We cannot progress in meditation with a fat body and a weak mind. By fasting, it will be possible for the practitioner to sit for long hours of meditation without incurring problems.
During meditation, many of the physical processes are minimized. For instance, the inner body temperature falls below normal, the blood pressure and the breath rate are decreased, and the secretion and circulation of many of the hormones also brought down to base level. If the stomach is loaded, it will not be possible for a practitioner to reach such a meditative state. But anyhow if we assume that he is able to do meditation and the stomach is loaded at this time, the results will be disastrous. Disturbed peristaltic waves and improper secretion patterns will disrupt the whole digestive process. Due to the decreased temperature, partially digested food will not move in the small intestines and will ferment, causing bad winds to be passed. Toxins will be formed which the body will find difficult to eliminate.
So for the practice of long hours of meditation the stomach has to be empty. Fasting and meditation are the two practices which always go together.
Fasting And Hormone Imbalance
Management of our passions can be attained through regulated periods of fasting. By fasting, it is possible to balance all the hormones that are secreted in the body. The various hormones circulating in the bloodstream produce different emotional reactions. The thyroid secretions have an influence on behavior. Similarly, there are certain basic hormones that are secreted by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland, which are responsible for different types of passions like violence, ambition, anger, and cruelty. Sometimes these hormones are in excess or there is an imbalance between them. When the hormone secretions flow into the body in excess, they create hysteria, epileptic fits, violence, and even suicide.
When we undertake fasting, a major process of harmonization between different endocrine glands and their hormones occurs. The extraction and metabolism of the hormones from the bloodstream are accelerated and passions become more civilized.
Fasting To Rest Digestive System
Generally, we keep our digestive system busy all the 24 hours because of our eating habits. By fasting, we are able to give some rest to the system which helps it recover and become more efficient. On a normal day, the digestive system usually gets more food than what it can process. So it prioritizes and digests only the most important food elements. The other food parts which are not properly digested are saved in cells. These food parts may never get the priority for digestion as the system always will get new food to work on first. These stored food elements slowly convert to fat or just rot in the body. Fasting gives the stomach the time to digest all the food leftovers in the body.
Fasting Detoxify Your Body
When we fast and the body is not busy digesting food, it starts to clean the undigested fats, toxins, and wastes from the body. The body has much more time and energy to spend on healing and recuperating itself. The energy which would have worked to digest the meal is now free and will now work to or repair the ailments or drawbacks in the body. The body now has the time to detox and repair organs, cells, tissues, and even skin.
Fasting And Weight Loss
When we fast, the body uses the stored fats as an alternate source of energy, resulting in weight loss. Though in Yoga, the weight loss shouldn’t be the aim of fasting, yet it is an added advantage.
Fasting And Immune System
As has been explained above that during fasting, the body cleanses itself and removes toxins from the system which eventually prevent the body from getting ill. We know it well that when animals are sick, they instinctively start fasting to give their body the opportunity to heal.
Important Fasting Days In Hinduism
Everyone in India knows about the special days of fasting, as the fasting is as a discipline which has been enjoined with various religious traditions.
According to the Hindu calendar, every month is divided into two lunar cycles – the bright fortnight and the dark fortnight. Both of these fortnights have a powerful influence over the biological functions of the human body. On certain days, the digestive system is very active, while on other days, it is not. The 11th, 13th and 15th days of the dark and bright fortnights are said to have disturbing effects on the body, mind, and emotions. Therefore, fasting is traditionally undertaken and is advisable on these days in order to maintain balance within the whole system.
Benefits Of Fasting On Ekadasi
On the 11th day, fasting is especially important for ladies, because it has a stabilizing effect on the menstrual cycle. This cycle is a very important indicator of health in the female body. It has often been observed that the menstrual cycle is either preceded or followed by a period of intense emotional turbulence. Therefore, fasting on these two days helps the woman to balance her hormonal system as well as her emotions.
How To Do Fasting
A Yoga practitioner should fix a regular day for fasting. On this day, just have a light, warm meal in the evening. There should not be any breakfast or snacks during the day. This is the simplest and most effective way to fast. If continued for a year or more, the health will improve and the body will gradually become ready for a longer period of fasting.
For progress in spiritual life, the fasting periods or frequency should be increased. Fasting for at least once a week can be done. One can practice fasting for nine or ten days in a stretch, every year, taking only the minimum requirement of milk or fruit and practicing mantra japa, prayers, or kriya yoga for at least six or seven hours a day consecutively. The concentration will improve and the problems of the body will be removed.
People suffering from emotional, nervous and sexual problems should do fasting. The mind will at once become quiet. Fasting, whether for physical health or for a spiritual purpose, is a very scientific system, in yoga. It should be a must for all to do fasting.