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@ “Easy and Effective. It works! “

I thank Chaitanya Mudivarthy Ph.D (1), my nephew, for posting this recommendation for me in Linkedin.  I am delighted that he highlights the most important aspect of the techniques – that it suits today’s busy people who can’t spare time for Yoga and such practices.

“CS Rao (Suryanarayana Chennpragada) is an excellent yoga practitioner. He is one of the few who realized the problem with current generation – impatience and lack of time to put yoga into practice in their daily routine. His solution to this is simple and practical – ‘counting breaths’ (2). This technique works!

I have been practicing this technique since 2006 with great results.

I have suggested the technique to numerous friends with ADD, anxiety disorders, and depression. One thing I hear back is how easy and effective the technique is.

Above all, CS Rao is an excellent human being with tremendous knowledge in general in the fields of science, medicine, and spirituality.”

(1) Chaitanya Mudivarthy – Linkedin Page
(2) ‘Counting breaths’ is an ancient technique devised by the Buddha 2500 years back. My adaptations of this technique to suit busy beginners are two. One is using the fingers. This practice leashes the mind far more effectively than just counting the breaths in the mind. The second adaptation is for beginners to practice lying in the bed at night and morning to make the practice ‘excuse free’ and get them hooked on it. These have  made this ancient technique available to people of all ages and cultures.

The ‘focusing on breathing’ practices presented in this site are radically different from Yogic breathing practices. Yogic breathing practices require you to change the current pattern of breathing, to conform to the given guidelines. We are warned to learn those practices from a trained teacher, to avert potential harm from wrong practice.

In contrast, these breathing practices do not suggest any pattern for breathing, except in one mode. We passively watch the breaths, like watching the actors on a movie screen. These practices are totally safe whatever way you do them, even for children.

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@ Easy as 1-2-3 breathing method

Feedback from a participant of my seminar. 

“I did your recent breathing workshop (1). I have applied the technique and have gotten these very positive results (2).

  • I combined it with a muscle relaxation exercise to get into a quiet relaxed state at nights.
  • I use it on the tread mill during exercise (3).
  • I am able to reduce my heart rate under stress (4).
  • I even used it to improve my performance during sex (5).

It was a great investment to learn your ‘easy as 1-2-3 breathing method’.”

Update received after 1 1/2 years, in March 2015: “Yes I still practice breathing at nights when I get stressed. I also do while having intimate moments with my wife and it helps to prolong the experience. “

(1) Past seminars
(2) Benefits for mind, Body and Relationships
(3) Daytime practice
(4) Relief from Stress
(5) First report of its kind

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@ My anger is reduced by 70%

Feedback from client who attended  3 of my classes over a period of 2 months. He was feeling angry with his wife for spending lot of time in forcing their daughter aged 6 to eat when she was not inclined.  He did not want to be angry. He also had stress at work. 

Practices
  • Regularly practicing the ‘Segment mode’ at bedtime
  • Practicing the ‘Segment mode’ in the morning only on week ends
Benefits

Anger: Reduced by 70%

Sleep: Before, I was waking up a few times regularly in the night even for small disturbances. Now it happens sometimes.

My goals now
  • Reduce stress (Mostly due to thinking about things to do at work)
  • Better sleep at night
  • Reduce my anger further
  • Reduce weight
My plans
  • Write down list of things to do at work, so I do not keep worrying about them
  • Practice the ‘Wakeing up routine’ (2) regularly
  • Better diet and exercise

(1) Segment mode
(2) Waking up routine 

Related pages
Reducing or eliminating Anger – Success stories
Relief from Stress – Success stories

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@ Counting breaths relieved stress at work

Feedback from a person who attended my seminar at the East Greenbush Library –

“I was having a lot of stress at work. Some days I was afraid of what I would be challenged with before I got to work.

I found that the counting breaths technique (1) helped me through a lot of stressfull moments, and helps me sleep better at night. Thank you for the class, it was amazingly helpful.”

(1) How can I focus on breathing?

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@ I cut back my mental health medicines

Second report (1) from a young man who practiced the technique from my handouts. He did not attend my classes  and I did not give him detailed instructions. When I met him occasionally on business, I used to encourage him. 

” I work in a stressful job where even taking time to walk away from a situation wouldn’t calm me down. At one point I was on three different medications for more than 2 years (3). I decided to try practice ‘focusing on breathing’ (2) because it was simple and I figured what could it hurt?

I started practicing it at night, so I could get proper sleep, then gradually moved my practice into my day. I made it a daily thing, even if it is just for a few minutes a day. I even found I was doing it with out thinking about it.

I could calm my mind more easily. Then I could go back to deal with a particular situation more clearly.

After a time of using the finger modes of the breathing technique (2), I was able to cut back one out of three of  my mental health medications. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a cure all. I am still on one medication but one is a lot better then three (4). Plus with a clearer mind, I find my life in general more manageable, and I am finding I can enjoy my life again.”

(1) His previous report on insomnia
(2) How can I focus on breathing? 
(3) Xanax – 10 mg – for Anxiety;    Wellbutrin 20 mg for Depression and   Prozac 60 mg for Depression
(4) Stopped Xanax and Wellbutrin. Now only on Prozac – 60 mg

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@ Improved my relationship with my fiance

Report from a client aged 52 who attended three of my classes over 3 weeks.  He picked up the techniques very quickly, practiced in all earnestness and derived remarkable benefits in just 3 weeks. When I see improvement achieved by such people, I get the thought “How many people are suffering from not knowing these simple techniques or similar ones? Should we not teach them in school and college?”. 

His responses to my standard questions are here. 

  • What were the issues which prompted you do the classes?

* Insomnia: I have sleep apnea and using CPAP machine. I had a hard time falling asleep . I was waking up 2- 3 times in the night.

* How to manage stress

* Managing anger (as it affected my relationship with my fiance)

  • What techniques have you learned and practiced and at what times? 

I practiced ‘Counting mode’ primarily, the ‘Segment mode’ or the ‘Tip mode’. I also practice the ‘Staring mode’ when at a red light (1). I find myself being disappointed when the light turns green, as it interrupts my breathing practice (2). I also use the feeling mode (1) sometimes when at work.

I do the ‘waking up routine’ (3)-.

After returning from work, I lie down on the carpet with a yoga mat under just below the knee and complete four hands using the ‘Segment mode’ (1).

I do the going the ‘bed routine’ every night (4).

  • What improvements have you noticed in mind, body and relationships?

My insomnia has improved dramatically. In just the three weeks practicing these techniques, I have only woken up once in the middle of the night and I fall asleep much faster.

I’m much more patient in circumstances where I’m usually impatient such as waiting at a red light.

I feel much more relaxed. Especially after coming home from work and doing the after work routine. I feel incredibly relaxed after that, like all the day’s tension has gone.

It has improved my relationship with my fiance. I’m much calmer in situations where normally I would react in anger or feel tension rising within me. Instead of responding back to her in anger and frustration, I try ways such as telling her that I appreciate her feedback but I get negative feelings when she expresses it to me in that manner. This has worked in preventing the situation from escalating. I try not to feed the fire.

(1) All the modes are in this page “How can I focus on breathing?
(2) Focusing on breathing during driving
(3) Waking up routine
(4) Waiting for sleep

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@ I finally had a good night’s sleep

Feedback from a young Engineer who just completed his masters and looking for a job. Seeing the great distress he was in, his friend, a patient of my daughter Padma Sripada (1) asked me to help him.  He did three classes at frequent intervals, as he was to leave Albany shortly. He learned the basic techniques – ‘Waiting for sleep’ (2) , ‘Waking up routine’ (3),  ‘Stretching for beginners’ (4) ‘Loosening exercises of Yoga’ (5). After he left Albany, I am continuing to work with him by periodic phone and e-mail contacts.

“Using ‘Focusing on breathing’ techniques helped me handle insomnia and anxiety in a better way. For a long time, I always got anxious during those situations where I had to deliver my best, to achieve success. Unknowingly, I was getting anxious, failed to control my anxiety and over stressed myself. Due to chronic high stress level, I lost my daily routine and had very poor sleep. I became restless, could not focus and concentrate on anything and failed to perform even minor tasks which were easily handled by me, during stress free times. I figured out that I had to get back to good sleep routine to help my mind and body. Even after knowing this fact, no matter what I did, I could not help myself to get sleep, for more than an hour or two at night.

I was advised by my friend, to meet Mr. Suryanarayana Chennapragada (C S). He carefully listened my problem and analyzed my situation with great patience. Later the same day, he walked me through his ‘focusing on breathing’ techniques, one by one. His breathing techniques are “very simple to learn and adapt”. That night I practiced the techniques lying on the bed. After a week of sleeplessness nights, I finally had a good night sleep. During three more sessions, Mr. C.S taught me how to use the breathing techniques in various combinations. As per his strong advice, I consulted a Doctor who  prescribed a medication to bring my anxiety under control quickly. I am continuing both medication and breathing practices. My long term goal is to completely depend on breathing practices, rather than medication.  I totally believe it is possible.  I thank Mr. C S for his “patience and dedication”.

(1) Padma Sripada M.D
(2) Waiting for sleep
(3) Waking up routine
(4) Stretching for beginners
(5) Loosening exercises from Yoga

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* Many problems resolved, my face glows

Feedback from an African American client Christine (not her real name) who attended four of my classes over 5 weeks. She reported multiple problems when she came in. She absorbed the techniques and practiced them with all her heart. On my advice, she read most of my articles on Relationships (1). She came out of most problems in a surprisingly short time of 5 weeks. Details –

“I was really stressed out on my job at a medical office, due to my boss. I had to always to prove myself and be constantly on the go. I could never stop to even think where I was and what I was working on.I learned in the classes how take breaths and relax more effectively in my daily life. The breathing techniques I have been using are the ‘Tip mode’ and the ‘Segment mode’ (2), in the morning and night. I also do a lot of breathing  during the day (3).
Due to these practices, my body balance has changed and my mind has become so relaxed that nothing and no one stresses me. I am so calm even when dealing with others at work. My skin complexion has changed. I now have a bright glow in my face.

I thank ‘C S’ (Suryanarayana Chennapragada) for helping me achieve total peace of mind.”

I had a personal interview with her to inquire about the several problems that she had but did not mention in her above feedback. She let me know their status as described below.

Stressful interactions with boss

Before: Her boss was very intimidating and being mean in his daily interactions with her as well as other employees. She used to take his words seriously to her heart and tried to respond to them in all earnestness. As nothing she said or did made any difference to his behavior she was getting angry and frustrated. She used to clench her jaws and grind her teeth.
Now: After practicing the breathing at bedtime and during her interactions with her boss, she stopped taking his mean style seriously. She listens to him and tells herself that he is the one who has the problem, not she. His verbally abusive behavior  has nothing to do with her.

Jaw tension and Grinding of teeth

Now: Reduced by 95%

Migraine pains

Before: Almost every day, lasting for 2 hours.
Now: Once in a while.

Shoulders puffed up

Before: Whenever she heard his mean words, which was every day.
Now: None, in spite of his behavior  being same.

Hears everything in sleep

Before: In her sleep she used to hear all sounds around her. She used to wake up twice in the night.
Now: She sleeps undisturbed,till the alarm goes off. She does not hear any sounds. Recently her husband commented with a surprise that she was able to fall asleep even when the the TV was on. 

Hours of sleep

Before: She used to sleep at 10 and wake up at 3 am and was not able to get sleep for at least 30 minutes, due to her racing mind.
Now: She sleeps undisturbed all through the night, till the alarm goes off at 6 am.

How she felt on waking up 

Before: Felt exhausted
Now: Feels great.

Back pain and Neck pain

Now: She has them only slightly. To avoid neck pain she stopped holding the phone between her cheek and shoulder. Her chronic stress was straining her muscles in her jaws, neck, shoulders and back.

(1) My articles on ‘Relationships’
(2) How can I focus on breathing?
(3) Daytime practice
(4) Releasing tension in the jaws

Related pages
Face looks bright and healthy – Success stories

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* I practiced just before surgery

This the feedback from a woman who attended two of my classes (2) since Jan 11, 2012.

She had undergone tracheostomy. Some time back, due to injury to her throat, she could not breathe through the nose or mouth. A trach tube was inserted into a hole made in her throat to enable her breathe. Recently, her doctor advised that her throat was healed and she did not need the tube. But she was not willing to do it because when she took it off once, she was unable to breathe through the nose or mouth and was choking. Her doctor said that it was only her anxiety that was preventing her from taking off the tube and breathing through the nose. She was referred to me by Teri Hutson-Mulligan, a diabetes educator at Albany Medical Center.

Because of the tube in her throat, she couldn’t speak. In person, she communicates with a white board and dry erase marker or paper and pen. We interact occasionally by e-mail as she is not able to attend the classes being dependent on state transportation. I do the classes free for her, as she is disabled and on Medicaid.

She reported in the first class that she was unable to sleep for 2 to 3 hours every night and helplessly watched TV. Her sister died 5 years ago. The thought she was responsible for her sister’s death was haunting her, though she knew that this was not true. Her first report by e-mail is presented below.

“I am practicing the technique. I specifically remember using the ‘Tip mode’ (1) just before I went into surgery, to help me relax. The next thing I remember – I was waking up and the surgery was over. I have also used the technique at bed time. My sleep habits are a lot better. I sleep almost through the entire night.”

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(1) How can I focus on breathing?
(2) Seminars and classes

Relevant pages
Relieving anxiety – Success stories

* Shortage of sleep and heart disease

This is an article forwarded by a friend. He is not sure of  its author.

What killed Ranjan Das and Lessons for Corporate India

A month ago, many of us heard about the sad demise of Ranjan Das from Bandra, Mumbai. Ranjan, just 42 years of age, was the CEO of SAP-Indian Subcontinent, the youngest CEO of an MNC in India. He was very active in sports, was a fitness freak and a marathon runner. It was common to see him run on Bandra’s Carter Road. Just after Diwali, on 21st Oct, he returned home from his gym after a workout, collapsed with a massive heart attack and died. He is survived by his wife and two very young kids. It was certainly a wake-up call for corporate India. However, it was even more disastrous for runners amongst us. Since Ranjan was an avid marathoner (in Feb 09, he ran Chennai Marathon at the same time some of us were running Pondicherry Marathon 180 km away), the question came as to why an exceptionally active, athletic person succumb to heart attack at 42 years of age. Was it the stress? A couple of you called me asking about the reasons. While Ranjan had mentioned that he faced a lot of stress, that is a common element in most of our lives. We used to think that by being fit, one can conquer the bad effects of stress. So I doubted if the cause was stress. The real reason however is … everyone missed out a small line in the reports that Ranjan used to make do with 4-5 hours of sleep. This is an earlier interview of Ranjan on NDTV in the program ‘Boss’ Day Out’:

http://connect.in.com/ranjan-das/play-video-boss-day-out-ranjan-das-of-sap-india-229111-807ec fcf1ad966036c289b3ba6c376f2530d7484.html

Here he himself admits that he would love to get more sleep and that he was not proud of his ability to manage without sleep, contrary to what others extolled.

The evidence last week:
I was working with a well-known cardiologist on the subject of ‘Heart Disease caused by Lack of Sleep’. While I cannot share the video nor the slides because of confidentiality reasons, I have distilled the key points below in the hope it will save some of our lives.

Some excerpts …..

  • Short sleep duration (<5 or 5-6 hours) increased risk for high BP by 350% to 500% compared to those who slept longer than 6 hours per night. Paper published in 2009.
  • As you know, high BP kills. .. Young people (25-49 years of age) are twice as likely to get high BP if they sleep less. Paper published in 2006. ..
  • Individuals who slept less than 5 hours a night had a 3-fold increased risk of heart attacks. Paper published in 1999. ..
  • Complete and partial lack of sleep increased the blood concentrations of High sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-cRP), the strongest predictor of heart attacks. Even after getting adequate sleep later, the levels stayed high!! .. Just one night of sleep loss increases very toxic substances in body such as Interleukin-6 (IL-6), Tumour Necrosis Factor-Alpha (TNF-alpha) and C-reactive protein (cRP). They increase risks of many medical conditions, including cancer, arthritis and heart disease. Paper published in 2004. ..
  • Sleeping for <=5 hours per night leads to 39% increase in heart disease. Sleeping for <=6 hours per night leads to 18% increase in heart disease. Paper published in 2006.

Ideal sleep for lack of space, I cannot explain here the ideal sleep architecture. But in brief, sleep is composed of two stages: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM. The former helps in mental consolidation while the latter helps in physical repair and rebuilding. During the night, you alternate between REM and non-REM stages 4-5 times. The earlier part of sleep is mostly non-REM. During that period, your pituitary gland releases growth hormones that repair your body. The latter part of sleep is more and more REM type. For you to be mentally alert during the day, the latter part of sleep is more important. No wonder when you wake up with an alarm clock after 5-6 hours of sleep, you are mentally irritable throughout the day (lack of REM sleep). And if you have slept for less than 5 hours, your body is in a complete physical mess (lack of non-REM sleep), you are tired throughout the day, moving like a zombie and your immunity is way down (I’ve been there, down that lane)

Finally, as long-distance runners, you need an hour of extra sleep to repair the running related damage. If you want to know if you are getting adequate sleep, take the Epworth Sleepiness Test below. Use this form from Stanford University.

=================================================================

How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep in the following situations, in contrast to feeling  just tired? This refers to your usual way of life in recent times. Even if you have not done some of these things recently, try to work out how they would have affected you. Use the following scale to choose the most appropriate number for each situation:

0 = no chance of dozing

1 = slight chance of dozing

2 = moderate chance of dozing

3 = high chance of dozing

SITUATION                      CHANCE OF DOZING

Sitting and reading____________

Watching TV ____________

Sitting inactive in a public place (e.g a theater or a meeting) ____________

As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break ____________

Lying down to rest in the afternoon when circumstances permit ____________

Sitting and talking to someone ____________

Sitting quietly after a lunch without alcohol ____________

In a car, while stopped for a few minutes in traffic ____________

Interpretation: Score of 0-9 is considered normal while 10 and above abnormal.

================================================================

In conclusion Barring stress control, Ranjan Das did everything right: eating proper food, exercising (marathoning!), maintaining proper weight. But he missed getting proper and adequate sleep, minimum 7 hours. In my opinion, that killed him.

If you are not getting enough sleep (7 hours), you are playing with fire, even if you have low stress. I always took pride in my ability to work 50 hours at a stretch whenever the situation warranted. But I was so spooked after seeing the scientific evidence last week that since Saturday night, I ensure I do not even set the alarm clock under 7 hours. Now, that is a nice excuse to get some more sleep.

Unfortunately, Ranjan Das is not alone when it comes to missing sleep. Many of us are doing exactly the same, perhaps out of ignorance. Please share this article with as many of your colleagues as possible, especially those who might be short-changing their sleep. If we can save even one young life because of this email, I would be the happiest person on earth.

PS: Incidentally, just as human beings need 7 hours of sleep, you should know that cats need 15 hours of sleep and horses need 3 hours of it. So are you planning to be a cool cat or a dumb horse?

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Related pages
How can I Enjoy Quality Sleep?
Secrets of a “Great Night’s Sleep”
Relief from insomnia – Success stories