being [soma]

Welcome to this eleven-part video series. Here you will find the teachings of yoga and neuroscience (which are actually the same thing) to increase soma- including melatonin- and vastly improve your health and wellbeing.

It is recommended to watch the videos in order, maybe taking time to digest between each one and revisiting them whenever you feel necessary.

References for the research can also be found at the bottom of the page. With love and gratitude for the lessons on yoga, soma and sleep from my teacher Kaya Mindlin.

I have made this offering on a donation basis, so it is available for free, with trust that if you can afford (and if you feel they have been of value) you will be kind enough to consider a donation to myself or to The Universal Shaiva Fellowship. Details can be found towards the bottom of the page of each offering.

Tips

In my experience, if you were try to change your habits and instigate all these tips at once, it won't happen. They're more to have in the back of your conscious mind, not to beat yourself up about, but to just know they could be helpful one day. Then maybe make one small change until it sticks before adding another. Which one would you pick first?

For improving sleep:

  • Have a regular waking and sleeping time, close to sunrise and sunset times.

  • Allow an 8-9 hour window for sleep.

  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine, particularly in the evening.

  • Avoid alcohol as this stops REM state.

  • Exercise, no later than 2-3 hours before bed.

  • Dark cool room.

  • Gadget free, as well as turning phone and WiFi off.

  • Avoid large meals in the evening and no later than 2-3 hours before bed.

  • Nutrient rich food in the evening.

  • Relax before bed; meditation, prāṇāyāma (choosing relaxing breath work), restorative yoga, reading; whatever helps you relax.

  • Yoga Nidrā and/or more restorative forms of yoga āsana.

  • Hot bath before bed to reduce core body temperature.

  • Oiling and massaging feet (see bonus video for foot massage).

  • Stimulation of the ventral vagus nerve.

  • Reduce stress before bed.

For improving melatonin levels:

  • Foods containing tryptophan (needed to synthesise melatonin and serotonin) and melatonin.

  • Foods containing vitamin D (also gained in exposure to the sun) and omega-3 fatty acids to help produce serotonin (used to synthesise melatonin).

  • Exercise to help produce serotonin.

  • Reduce stress levels in life.

For improving ventral vagus nerve tone:

  • Humming (or singing and chanting).

  • Cold showers.

  • The Basic Exercise (see video).

  • Slow and deep breathing (prāṇāyāma).

It is not mentioned in the videos, but gut health is also heavily linked to the ventral vagus nerve, as well as the production of melatonin and serotonin, so consult a nutritionist and consider probiotics if necessary.

If you have any questions at all in regards to any of this please do just get in touch here. I am also very happy to work one-to-one in Skype sessions or similar if you feel that could be of benefit. Again, just give me a shout.

If you have found the offering of use, and would like to donate what you see fit, you can do so via PayPal here.

I am forever grateful to all of my teachers and also to the work of the Universal Shaiva Fellowship who not only work to keep the teachings of Swami Lakshmanjoo (the last Master of Kashmir Śaivism who left his body in 1991 ) alive, but were also incredibly kind enough to give me a scholarship. If you would like to donate to them you can do so by clicking here.

May your journey be one of intrigue and wonder.

References

It is much more beneficial in my opinion to reach your own conclusions. That is why all the material that led me to my conclusions is listed, and you may reach a totally different understanding. 

The Śiva Saṁhitā

  • Vasu, R. (1914) The Śiva Saṁhitā, Dev Publishers and Distributer, New Delhi. 2013 edition.

Science 1

Slide 1: Pizzey, J. (2020) Neuroanatomy, neural systems and brain function. King's College London lecture.

Slide 2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainstem#/media/File:1311_Brain_Stem.jpg

Slide 3: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/52/Nigrostriatal_pathway.svg

Slide 4: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pineal_gland#/media/File:Illu_pituitary_pineal_glands.jpg

Melatonin general:

  • Deynego, V. (2014) Influence of light and physical fields on risk of disharmonization of the melatonin synthesis in the pineal gland. Health Risk Analysis Scientific and methodological approaches to risk analysis. 2.

  • Hardeland, R. (2012) Neurobiology, Pathophysiology, and Treatment of Melatonin Deficiency and Dysfunction. The Scientific World Journal. Volume 2012, Article ID 640389, 18 pages. doi:10.1100/2012/640389

Melatonin antioxidant effects:

  • Gumral, N. et al. (2016) The effects of electromagnetic radiation (2450 MHz wireless devices) on the heart and blood tissue: role of melatonin. Bratisl Med J. 117: 11, 665 – 671

  • Reiter, R. et al. (2001) Free radical-mediated molecular damage: mechanisms for the protective actions of melatonin in the central nervous system. Annuals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 939, 200–215. 

  • Reiter, R. et al. (2003) Melatonin as an antioxidant: biochemical mechanisms and pathophysiological implications in humans. Acta Biochimica Polonica. 50: 4. 1129–1146.

  • Tan, D. et al. (1993) Melatonin: a potent, endogenous hydroxyl radical Scavenger. Endocrine Journal. 1, 57–60.

Science 2

Slide 1: Hickie, I. et al. (2013) Manipulating the sleep-wake cycle and circadian rhythms to improve clinical management of major depression. BMC Medicine.11, 79 Available from: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/11/79

Slide 2: Patrick, R. & Ames, B. (2015) Vitamin D and the omega-3 fatty acids control serotonin synthesis and action, part 2: relevance for ADHD, bipolar, schizophrenia, and impulsive behaviour. The FASEB Journal. 29. Available from: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/baf8/7614097d47bb00f7b9bf6f7c5a7a84295597.pdf

Melatonin and serotonin relationship:

  • Hickie, I. et al. (2013) Manipulating the sleep-wake cycle and circadian rhythms to improve clinical management of major depression. BMC Medicine.11, 79

Melatonin synthesis:

  • Fatima, G. et al. (2015) Circadian variations in melatonin and cortisol in patients with cervical spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord. 54, 364–367

Soma depletion

Melatonin and smoking:

Melatonin and caffeine, diet and body weight:

Melatonin and light exposure:

  • Deynego, V. (2014) Influence of light and physical fields on risk of disharmonization of the melatonin synthesis in the pineal gland. Health Risk Analysis Scientific and methodological approaches to risk analysis. 2.

  • Gooley, J. et al. (2011) Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens Melatonin Duration in Humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab.96: 3,  E463–E472.doi: 10.1210/jc.2010-2098. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3047226/

Melatonin and stress:

Melatonin and electromagnetic radiation (EMR):

  • Gumral, N. et al. (2016) The effects of electromagnetic radiation (2450 MHz wireless devices) on the heart and blood tissue: role of melatonin. Bratisl Med J. 117: 11, 665 – 671

  • Hye, S. et al. (2015) Eight hours of nocturnal 915 MHz radiofrequency identification (RFID) exposure reduces urinary levels of melatonin and its metabolite via pineal arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase activity in male rats. International Journal of Radiation Biology. Available from: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/irab20

  • Oktem, F. et al. (2005) Oxidative Damage in the Kidney Induced by 900-MHz-Emitted Mobile Phone: Protection by Melatonin. Archives of Medical Research. 36, 350–355  Available from: sci-hub.tw/10.1016/j.arcmed.2005.03.021

  • Sokolovic, D. et al. (2012) The effect of melatonin on body mass and behaviour of rats during an exposure to microwave radiation from mobile phone. Bratisl Lek Listy. 113: 5, 265– 269. doi: 10.4149/BLL_2012_062

  • Sokolovic, D. et al. (2015) The Effects of Melatonin on Oxidative Stress Parameters and DNA Fragmentation in Testicular Tissue of Rats Exposed to Microwave Radiation. Adv Clin Exp Med. 24:3,

  • Qin, F. et al. (2012) Effects of 1800-MHz Radiofrequency Fields on Circadian Rhythm of Plasma Melatonin and Testosterone in Male Rats. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A: Current Issues. 75:18, 1120-1128. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2012.69984. 

  • Qin, F. et al. (2014) Circadian alterations of reproductive functional markers in male rats exposed to 1800 MHz radiofrequency field. Chronobiology International. 31: 1,  123–133

For the purposes of balance, the following studies found little or no evidence of effects of EMR:

  • Koyu, A. et al. (2005) No effects of 900 MHz and 1800 MHz electromagnetic field emitted from cellular phone on nocturnal serum melatonin levels in rats. Toxicology and Industrial Health. 21, 27-31.

  • Seze, R. et al. (1999) Evaluation in humans of the effects of radiocellular telephones on the circadian patterns of melatonin secretion, a chronobiological rhythm marker. J. Pineal Res. 27, 237-242.

  • Sukhotina, I. et al. (2006) 1800 MHz electromagnetic field effects on melatonin release from isolated pineal glands. J. Pineal Res. 40, 86–9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-079X.2005.00284.x

N.B. animal studies do not necessarily translate to humans. Wide variety in the quality of study was also found.

Melatonin and pineal calcification:

  • Kunz et al. (1999) A new concept for melatonin deficit: on pineal calcification and melatonin excretion. Neuropsychopharmacology. 21: 6, 765-72.

  • Mahlberg et al. (2008) Pineal calcification in Alzheimer's disease: an in vivo study using computed tomography. Neurobiol Aging. 29: 2, 203-9.

Fluoride and calcification of the pineal gland:

  • Kalisinska et al. (2014) Fluoride concentrations in the pineal gland, brain and bone of goosander (Mergus merganser) and its prey in Odra River estuary in Poland. Environmental geochemistry and health. 36:6, 1063-77. doi:10.1007/s10653-014-9615-6

  • Luke, J. (1993) The effect of fluoride on the physiology of the pineal gland. Available from: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/101475.pdf

  • Luke, J. (2001) Fluoride deposition in the aged human pineal gland. Caries Res. 35: 2, 125-8.

 

Restoring soma

Melatonin and diet:

  • Bravo, R. et al. (2013) Tryptophan-enriched cereal intake improves nocturnal sleep, melatonin, serotonin, and total antioxidant capacity levels and mood in elderly humans. Age (Dordr). 35: 4, 1277–1285. doi: 10.1007/s11357-012-9419-5. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705114/

  • Hudson, C., et al. (2005). Protein source tryptophan versus pharmaceutical grade tryptophan as an efficacious treatment for chronic insomnia. Nutritional Neuroscience. 8: 2, 121–127.doi:10.1080/10284150500069561. Available from: sci-hub.tw/10.1080/10284150500069561

  • Peuhkuri, K. et al. (2012) Dietary factors and fluctuating levels of melatonin. Food Nutr Res. 56. doi: 10.3402/fnr.v56i0.17252. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3402070/

Melatonin and yoga:

  •   Sarris, J., & Byrne, G. J. (2011). A systematic review of insomnia and complementary medicine. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 15: 2, 99–106.doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2010.04.001. Available from: sci-hub.tw/10.1016/j.smrv.2010.04.001

Sleep:

  • Walker, M. (2017) Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams. Allen Lane, UK.

Nervous system

Vagus nerve:

  • Porge, S. (2011) The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation. W. W. Norton & Co.

  • Rosenburg, S. (2017) Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve: Self-Help Exercises for Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and Autism. North Atlantic Books.

Melatonin and vagus nerve:

  • Shahrokhi, N. et al. (2016). Protective effects of an interaction between vagus nerve and melatonin on gastric ischemia/reperfusion: the role of oxidative stress. Iranian journal of basic medical sciences 19: 1, 72–79.

Vagus nerve and cold exposure:

  • Vijgen, G. H., Bouvy, N. D., Leenen, L., Rijkers, K., Cornips, E., Majoie, M., Brans, B., & van Marken Lichtenbelt, W. D. (2013). Vagus nerve stimulation increases energy expenditure: relation to brown adipose tissue activity. PloS one.  8: 10, e77221. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0077221

  • Available from: Vijgen, G. H., Bouvy, N. D., Leenen, L., Rijkers, K., Cornips, E., Majoie, M., Brans, B., & van Marken Lichtenbelt, W. D. (2013). Vagus nerve stimulation increases energy expenditure: relation to brown adipose tissue activity. PloS one, 8(10), e77221. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0077221

If you would like any of the papers for your own personal use then please email me.

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