Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 47, Tuesday April 27, 2004






Agony Medic

Dr. Lutful Aziz, FCPS, PHD Consultant "analgesia", Pain relief centre

To Strengthen Your Muscles
First Stage Exercise
A. Sit on the bed or floor. Pull your toes up towards you, brace your knee flat on the floor, Keeping your leg stiff, lift it up abut 6 to 12 inches off the bed. Hold it for a count of five then relax.

Work in sets of 10 with a short break between each set. Try to complete three sets of 10 in all.

If this exercise becomes too easy, a weight can be added over the front of the ankle. Begin with a couple of pounds and then increase slowly if necessary.

b. Sit on the bed or floor with your legs out straight, roll up a towel and place it behind your knee. brace your knee down against the towel, your heel should lift off the bed, hold it raised for the count of 5, then relax. Repeat this 10 times, rest for a short while, then do another set of 10. Again it this exercise becomes too easy, a weight can be added over the ankle as before.

c. If you are able to take all your weight on the one leg, without any discomfort, add this exercise to your routine. Stand by the kitchen sink or a solid table, hold on to keep your balance. Now bend at the knee but not at the hip. Hold it bent for the count of 5 then lower it back to the floor. Repeat the exercise on the opposite leg, continue alternating legs until you have completed 10 on each leg.

d. For this exercise you should sit yourself on a chair with your feet on the floor, but anchored against the legs or front of the chair. Working with one leg at a time, press your heel firmly against the chair and hold for the count of five. Relax, then repeat the exercise 10 times on each leg.

e. Sit on a fairly firm chair with your feet on the floor. Now squeeze your buttocks together so that you feel yourself rise a little in the chair. Hold tight for the count of five, then relax. Repeat 20 times. This may seem a very strange exercise, but the muscles that are involved here do have a direct function in getting up from a chair and walking up stairs.

Advanced Stage Exercises
a. Hold on to the kitchen sink or table to keep your balance. Rise up on tiptoes, now bend both knees to go into a squatting position only moving a quarter of the way down. Make sure you keep your bottom tucked in and your stomach pulled in tight. Rise up slowly, rest for a short period, and then repeat 20 times. Do not rush this exercise; it will do you more good when performed slowly.

b. This next exercise is done on the bottom of your staircase or a suitable step you can find around the house. Facing the step or the stairs, step up and down first with the left leg and then with then with the right leg. Keep alternating the leading leg until you have performed 10 on each leg.

C. This is very similar to exercise b, but this time turn around and face down the step or stairs. Now step down the step, keeping square with the step, i.e. no twisting. Again, repeat with alternative leading legs to complete 10 on each.


The Art of Living: Breathe Easy

What are you doing with your life? Is your life useful to you and the world around you? Realise that life is too short. When you realise life is short, procrastination falls away.'

From Celebrating Silence by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living course.

The Art of Living (AOL) course came to Bangladesh from India two years ago. So far 100 people in the country have been through the course and their numbers seem set to grow. As Sandhya Parmar, who has done courses in Reiki and AOL, says:' I feel more positive, patient and tolerant with AOL.'

Senior practitioners of AOL such as Ameenah Ahmed and Rafi Hossain also swear by the efficacy of this technique which combines elements such as the Sudarshan Kriya with yoga, pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation, service and ancient wisdom. 'Eighty per cent of toxins of the body are released through the breath. If one does Sudarshan Kriya regularly for three months, one will experience mental clarity, and physical and spiritual upliftment,' says Ameenah, a Reiki master and artiste who pursues Rabindra Sangeet, Indian classical music and organises musical shows.

Rafi Hossain, Feature Co-ordinator with New Age, echoes the same view. In his words: 'AOL changed my life. I had so many problems in my career. I had lost Taka 18 lakh on one project. Now thanks to the AOL course I am tension free and confident.'

The cornerstone of AOL is the Sudarshan Kriya. This breathing technique, which takes around 30 minutes every day, is effective against anxiety and teaches one to stay in the present moment. Sudarshan Kriya and AOL have adherents in over 140 countries and over two million people the world over have benefited form the course.

Sudarshan Kriya's efficacy is backed by medical research, says the AOL web site. These findings reveal that the Kriya can reduce levels of stress, relieve depression, restore normal sleep and increase health, well being and peace of mind. In broader terms, this technique is known to have favourable benefits on the physiology, nervous system, endocrine system and the immune system.

The AOL complements various religions. There is, therefore, no clash between the two. Rafi says that AOL can be incorporated into one's daily routine after the morning prayers. The AOL basic course takes five days. The participant in the course needs to spend one full day (Friday) and two hours each for four days. The cost for the basic course is Taka 1, 500 each. The number of people opting for AOL is registering an increase.

According to Ameenah, there has been a good response in Bangladesh to AOL.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the architect of the AOL course, is a name recognised the world over. His spiritual leanings were evident even when he was a child. At the very young age of four years, he could be found in meditation and reciting verses from the Bhagavad Gita. People who have met him are mesmerised. For instance, it is said by followers that he has a photographic memory for faces and names. 'His presence fills the room,' says one practitioner, while Rafi says that Guruji inspired him to go for the advanced and teacher's training course.

There are sceptics, of course. According to one view, sycophancy is common and it is a not unusual for disciples to touch Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's feet. However practitioners of AOL point out that such gestures of respect do not clash with one's religion. As they say, touching feet of elders is a common practice, especially on Eid days and weddings.

It requires discipline to continue on the AOL path. There could be lacunae, such as for instance, not doing service for the poor or irregular practice. Yet as many people the world over begin to see the benefits of this technique, AOL is likely to win over more practitioners.

For more details on AOL. Contact Ameenah Ahmed, House No 50 Rd 2A, Dhanmondi, Dhaka, Ph; 8619158.

By Kavita Charanji

By The Way

Short fingernails for cooks and chefs

According to a research carried out in the US, long and artificial fingernails are a breeding ground for potentially harmful bacteria. They found that even after thorough washing these bugs (mostly E. coli) can remain under fingernails. Researchers in their findings also said that cooks and chefs with long fingernails are more likely to pass on food bugs to their consumers. They suggested that catering staff should have short and clean nails. Using nailbrushes while washing hands performs much better in destroying these bugs, leaving only a few.
Source: BBC News/Health





Should I stay or should I go

We Bengalis living in America go through a chameleon affect during the first few years before reaching the state of contradiction. I remember my first year in America, the water seemed too clean to swallow, the baked chicken was too big and tasteless to bite into, the missing rickshaws in the streets made me feel helpless as the only other source of transportation (since I did not have a driver's license) was to take the bus, and the usage of the wrong kind of cosmetic and hair products just left me looking and feeling like a refugee from the land of the lost and confused. The humorous sitcoms in television seemed to go over my head, only thing I wanted to really watch was MacGyver and Murphy Brown which use to be aired on BTV. And I missed wearing my Bengali attires and feeling pretty when I had to settle for the good old jeans and t-shirts. If someone questioned me back then about going back to Bangladesh, I looked at them funny, telling them my foot will be out the door as soon as I get that piece of paper called a college diploma in my hand, I will be on my way to my sweet land of messy comfort without a question.

A few years passed, life improved a bit, still boring in the sense that no sudden house guests popped up during lunch or dinner to say a hungry and friendly "hi" like the way it happens in Bangladesh. No mid-week strikes to give the work-weeks a break, but things seemed to go in one line and one steady direction. I started having respect for the American "stress-free" lifestyle. In this lifestyle I wake up early, I go to work or school, come home and eat the dinner that I skillfully made during the weekend and stored in the refrigerator to eat during the week. The dishes get washed in the dish washer, rest of the night I spend watching HBO specials, I sometimes catch up with families/friends over the phone, send a few birthday and anniversary cards to people expecting such occasions (my Microsoft outlook alerts me of such details of course), and I hit the bed to follow the same routine the next day. The weekends go by attending social events, shopping, or sometimes just plain relaxing or going away to another state with some last-minute-deal I were lucky enough to snatch.

Nothing exciting right? Yeah, I don't think so either. It's really a dull life that goes on singing in it's monotonous tune. You can add things to make it busy or subtract to make it easy, no one will interfere. That's the key word, interfere. The sense of privacy, the security, the independence, the freedom even if it's in a small bubble, the right to be as dull and uninteresting as you wish is what you gain and what you start loving after living here couple of years. So when someone asks me, “are you going back to Bangladesh to settle?” I look at them funny and mention the above things I just listed, for which I am trapped to this dull stable circle I have like others like me created in America.

I do not remember one instance in Bangladesh when I walked two blocks alone; I either had with me my parents, a maid, a driver, or some escort who played the role of a "bodyguard." I knew all my friends followed the same rule. I was sheltered completely like many others without ever realizing how trapped by protection I am. Will I be able to walk freely alone today if I go back without being groped, teased or stared at? Probably not, and that scares me.

I do not remember the word ‘privacy’ in Bangladesh. Except for the time I spent taking a shower someone was always someone present who invaded the line of privacy some way or other. Living in this selfish land everything becomes defined as private or public, and we become so territorial that even the presence of house-maid becomes an uncomforting experience.

These might seem petty reasons to you, but if you think thoroughly in these small reasons the big issues reside. I am spoilt Bengali female who waits for a Bangladesh where women walk alone without strange looks, comments or attacks, where a woman can rent a flat from her landlord without showing a male or a guardian's supervision, a Bangladesh where people mind their own businesses and lets you mind yours, a Bangladesh where women is not struggling for empowerment, because it's not about power, it's about being equal. I dream of being ignored, being surrounded and being close to all that matters to me, living in comfort and contradiction, in Bangladesh.

By Iffat Newaz



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