June 26, 2011

Stress in the City: Brain Activity and Biology Behind Mood Disorders of Urbanites

Stress in the City

Being born and raised in a major urban area is associated with greater lifetime risk for anxiety and mood disorders. Until now, the biology for these associations had not been described. A new international study, which involved Douglas Mental Health University Institute researcher Jens Pruessner, is the first to show that two distinct brain regions that regulate emotion and stress are affected by city living. These findings, published in Nature may lead to strategies that improve the quality of life for city dwellers.
"Previous findings have shown that the risk for anxiety disorders is 21 percent higher for people from the city, who also have a 39 percent increase for mood disorders," says co-author Jens Pruessner, a Douglas researcher. "In addition, the incidence for schizophrenia is almost doubled for individuals who are born and brought up in cities. These values are a cause for concern and determining the biology behind this is the first step to remedy the trend."

Distinct brain structures
Pruessner, with his colleagues from the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, looked at the brain activity of healthy volunteers from urban and rural areas. In a series of functional magnetic resonance experiments involving the Douglas' previously developed 'Montreal Imaging Stress Task',(MIST) protocol, they showed that city living was associated with greater stress responses in the amygdala, an area of the brain involved with emotional regulation and mood. In contrast, urban upbringing was found to be associated with activity in the cingulate cortex, a region involved in regulation of negative affect and stress.
"These findings suggest that different brain regions are sensitive to the experience of city living during different times across the lifespan," says Pruessner. "Future studies need to clarify the link between psychopathology and these affects in individuals with mental disorders.These findings contribute to our understanding of urban environmental risk for mental disorders and health in general. They further point to a new approach to interface social sciences, neurosciences and public policy to respond to the major health challenge of urbanization."

Get rid your the stress

"People today talk of Stress Management. But why would anyone want to manage their Stress"    - Sadhguru

June 20, 2011

Interview with Rachel White

Rachel White

Rachel came to the Isha Institute to spend a week in a "peaceful and relaxing atmosphere" , "I can forget about my daily routine, and focus on meditation and yoga practice" she said. We sat down on one sunny afternoon, and had a really nice talk. I've asked her if I could share her story, she agreed, and that's how my first interview was born.

Q: Rachel, how did you get on to spiritual path?

A: "When I was 16 my brother died in car crash. We were very close. At that point I made a conscious decision to be in as much pain as I possibly could. I was trying to show my brother I missed him. He was definitely still around. He was 19 when he died.You are generally back to normal within 2 years after the death of an immediate family member, but for me it didn't change, I was still at the beginning even after 4 years.At that time I came across Paramhansa Yogananda."

Q: Would you say that, because of your brother's death, you've became spiritual seeker ?

A: "Yes. It helped me to change the perspective, and see outside of the illusion. It helped 
me to seek god. Right now I'm in peace with all this."

Q: Where  did you hear about Isha?

A: "I have been studying under Parmhansa Yogananda,but it wasn't quite enough, I was still searching for more. I had this idea of going to India.I understood that what I want is there in a big way. Then one day my
 friend brought over to her house her friend Jason (Jason is currently a permanent resident here at the Isha Institute *). Than he started to talk about Isha and I was like OMG Ashram?! in Tennessee ?! it was crazy, it was insane! I was really excited about it.I never understood why I was put in Nashville, but then when I find out about Isha I was like OMG, I’m so blessed. I felt very lucky. Than I took IEO.

Q: How about your IEO experience?

A: "I really enjoyed the classes. Especially the guided meditations at the beginning and at the end. I actually took notes even though we are not supposed to, and I'm enjoying it even today. I mean, he said some really powerful stuff. At the same time it was hard for me. I had little of inner turmoil because of my previous
master. It takes someone pretty amazing to scoop in. I don't let just anybody in. When I came to IIIS it was pretty radical. My teacher felt like she was channeling Sadhguru all the time. She talked like him and her body moves were just like his too. Sadhguru being able to channelize somebody seemed pretty amazing and made me really excited about this new thing in my life. I didn't really have any question, the practice part of it was very clear to me.Volunteers make sure get every little detail. It was cool to be coming up to IIIS, you guys made this place so beautiful. It was really special, I felt comfortable, it was like coming home. I was really excited about knowing there is this whole thing going on where I can be my self."

QWhat do you see as the ideal vision for people in the world and particularly in the USA?

A: "If people could not to pay too much attention to what's happening around them,but what's going on within themselves,and just listen to their inner voice,I think that it self would do so much.I think one important aspect is Isha Meditators living outside the Ashram.They need to live as a example for others and make them thing "what does hehave that I don't have?"

QWhat is the direction you think Isha Foundation should head in USA?

A: The American watch so much TV! I think more appearance on the TV would make a big impact on people living here.

Q: If there is someone out there interested in taking the on-line course, but is not sure, what would you tell him?

A: Just go for it!!! There is nothing to loose, you can only gain!!!

Q: Last question, If you were given one wish,anything you can make happen, what would
you do?

A: I would make people to become more aware of the beauty of the existence.

* author's note

June 14, 2011

Bonnaroo: Part 2

Everyone should go to Bonnaroo at least once in their life. There is no way you won't find something that you  like, it doesn't matter what it is! My most favorite part of Bonnaroo was the Solar Stage.  Below I am sharing some of the photos I took during and after yoga sessions. Bonnaroo: "A beautiful people doing many fantastic things." Namaste!

Beautiful face art

Chris helping with yoga class 

Morning Yoga Class At Bonnaroo

During yoga session

One of the yoga sessions-butterfly posture

People were very interested
Coconut water 

Lot's of people everywhere 

Shady places are precious. Just like a animals in Africa.

A house made out of mud and straw at Bonnaroo

A man with his son


June 8, 2011

Bonnaroo: Mega Festival near International Yoga Center

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is a four-day, multi-stage camping festival held on a beautiful 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee every June.
Bonnaroo brings together some of the best performers in rock and roll, along with dozens of artists in complementary styles such as jazz, Americana, hip-hop, electronica, and just about any contemporary music you can think of.

Bonnaroo from the air

Like to relax after Bonnaroo?

I tend to relax and completely let go after I party for 3 days. There is a wonderful opportunity for those who tend to do the same. Near Manchester, TN where the Bannoroo festival happens every year, is Isha Institute of Inner Sciences,  located about 40 minutes away on the spectacular Cumberland Plateau in middle Tennessee, USA, near by city of McMinnville. If you enjoy beautiful nature and great hiking trails, awesome vegetarian food as well as yoga and meditation, swing by - you'll love it!


Isha Yoga Institute
Isha Yoga Institute
Mahima Meditation Hall

June 2, 2011

Sadhguru's Visit in United States - Last Day's Sathsang

Cumberland Plateau 
After the volleyball game here in Isha Yoga Ashram USA ,announcement came that Sadhguru want's to meet us for the last time before he leaves the country. Preparation for the Sathsang started right away. It was beautiful sunny day with a clear sky and we figured the best place for the Sathsang will be in the court yard. Soon after his evning golf game, Sadhguru came and sat with us.

The meeting lasted for about an hour, starting with Sadhguru's electrifying chant. Sadhguru has shared with us his vision for the AShram for months to come, details will be published on the official Isha Foundation's either email or blog if it's ready by then.

To give you an idea, what is going to grow up here in Tennessee is out of proportion! Tremendous energy space, the kind that is unseen in this part of the world. The sleepy little IIIS is going to turn in to major center for health and spiritual wellbeing across the USA and the world. 
Clearing out of the site has already started. The new structure is estimated to be accomplished by fall of 2013. 

"Our lives become beautiful not because we are perfect. Our lives become beautiful because we put our heart into what we are doing." -Sadhguru