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A Dive into Holistic Wellness

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Antarang Holistic Wellness

Ramesh Lakshman has worn many hats over the years as a practicing Chartered Accountant. He was a globe-trotting Consultant, World bank and a sought after Professor, SP Jain School of Global Management. Ramesh is now a full-time holistic wellness teacher and practitioner at Antarang Holistic Wellness, he founded in 2019. A lifelong learner, yoga practitioner for 30 years, Ramesh too leap from Core Finance to Holistic Wellness at 60.

The Introduction to Alternatives 

Ramesh says “Destiny brings you connections that are meant to happen” . When a medical diagnosis said that a close relative would not recover and continue to deteriorate from a condition, Ramesh refused to accept the prognosis. He undertook his own research, that led him to understand and explore powerful holistic practices.. 

Ramesh’s Yoga Institute, The Bihar school of Yoga, Munger, was having its 50th Anniversary where he was gifted a book on tantra, ‘A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric System of Yoga and Kriya’ written by his Guru, Swami Satyananda Saraswati.

Which led him to other books and resources on alternate therapies especially books by Norman Doidge, “The Brain’s way of Healing”. Ramesh also discovered The Novato Institute of Somatic Research and Education. The Hanna Somatic practices fascinated Ramesh. He wrote to the institute saying he would love to bring Somatics to India. 

I wrote to them never expecting an answer, but the owner wrote back after a month and I had soon enrolled in the three year Hanna Somatic Education course with them” 

Somatic Yoga 

Hanna Somatics is an approach to renewed control of the muscles through use of the voluntary motor system. Dr Thomas Hanna created the word “somatics” in 1976 to name practices to mind/body integration. 

As he delved deeper Ramesh could see the connections between Somatics and Yoga. He describes the combination of Yoga and Somatics – by explaining how the subconscious and musculature act in tandem. When a person is stressed, his muscles contract, over time with repeated/continued stress the conscious mind sends a message to the subconscious that the muscles need to be contracted constantly. And thus the muscles remain contracted, they do not return to their resting tone and weaken over time. Ramesh says this is the root cause of pain. The Somatic Yoga practices combine physical and mental exercises – working on a range of conditions from physical conditions such as arthritis to mental conditions such as ADHD. 

“When you start working on one part (the body) there is an impact on the other (the brain) over a period of time” 

Ramesh demonstrates a simple yet powerful exercise to increase muscle flexibility. The exercise he says helps create awareness making the upper brain more cognisant of the movements. With practice and discipline it becomes easier. The goal is to make it a habit, to be able to do it without a trainer. 

Myth of Aging

Seeing the effects of Somatic Yoga on the musculoskeletal system – Ramesh has launched a program called “Myth of Aging”. Inspired by Eleanor, his teacher at Hanna Somatics who at the age of 82 recently bought a horse and is training him.

“Elenor is training the mustang at the age of 82. Aging is a myth, there is nothing like aging. Age is just a number” 

There is no age restriction to the Somatic Yoga practices. Older students might take longer but Ramesh says, there will be definite changes. 

Aiding in Physiotherapy 

Ramesh believes that the confluence of Physiotherapy and Somatic yoga would benefit patients immensely. The difference between the two is that physiotherapy works with patients in the opposite direction of pain while Somatics works in the direction of pain in the muscles. Which is where the disconnect occurs for practicing physiotherapists to adapt and apply Somatics. But he is hopeful that physiotherapists can work with and learn these practices to move their work to next level.

His belief is that there is more to medicine than allopathy. He cites Dr B. M Hegde’s book ‘What Doctors Don’t Get to Study in Medical School’ to build his case for more holistic treatments.

COVID – Responding to external stimuli and keeping calm in the face of tragedy 

During these trying times, Ramesh says he does not watch the news or read the medical articles circulating on Whatsapp . He says the best option to combat the stress and sense of loss/failure is to chant mantras and meditate. 

“Mantra chanting will give you the internal courage to face external realities and still keep cool” 

The basis is that you face stressful situations but because of the practices you do not let your body respond to them. You are more aware and conscious of your actions. He refers to Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary’s book, ‘Sound Medicine’ that talks about using mantra chanting to help neurology patients 

Strengthening Lung capacity 

With COVID affecting the lungs, the best way to combat it according to Ramesh is to partake in Yogic breathing. It is a simple technique that allows us to breathe in 4x more. Ramesh says when more oxygen reaches the body and the cells, this improves the metabolism. In the video, Ramesh demonstrates the breathing practice to improve lung capacity.

Along with that, each class for Somatic Yoga begins and ends with blowing the conch as a ritual. The blowing of the conch creates harmonic vibrations that dispense with the negative energy, the cells absorb the harmonic vibrations. Ramesh blows the conch on the live session – lasting for almost a minute and half displaying his vast lung capacity. 

Next steps for Antarang 

The COVID scenario has shifted everything online. All the classes are online though not everything can be done online but the practice must continue, believes Ramesh. The team at Antarang have protocols and inform students how to do the practice at home. 

Ramesh has anecdotes of people who have been healed from Sciatica pain, Vertigo and even BP, Cholesterol with the Hanna Somatic practices. 

Only by experiencing the benefits will people be believers in the practices. Those who are interested or those whose interest has been piqued just need to connect with Ramesh to undergo the transformation promised by Somatic Yoga 

A reading list of all the books mentioned in the conversation : 

  • Kundalini Tantra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
  • Stalking the Wild Pendulum by Itzhak Bentov
  • Systemic Force by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
  • Somatics: Reawakening The Mind’s Control Of Movement, Flexibility, And Health by Dr.Thomas Hanna 
  • The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton 
  • Sound Medicine: How to Use the Ancient Science of Sound to Heal the Body and Mind by Dr.Kulreet Chaudhary
  • What Doctors Don’t Get to Study in Medical School by Dr. BM Hegde

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