World Health Day: A Heart-ful of Yoga

Healthy, fit, regular with yoga… and then a heart attack?! Why did it happen? Praveen found the answer while in the hospital.
World Health Day: A Heart-ful of Yoga

Praveen was healthy by any standard. He maintained a normal weight, he didn’t smoke or drink, and he even practiced yoga daily. So when he found himself being rushed to the hospital with a heart attack, he was full of doubts and questions. Find out how this attack became the answer he was seeking!

I sensed trouble. There was discomfort in my chest region. More than discomfort, actually! “I should tell Hemalatha to take me to the hospital…” the thought arose within me, but I felt too debilitated to say or do anything – I simply lay down on the floor. “Mom, we are leaving, bye!” I heard the joyful sounds of my children leaving for school. However, the next moment, I heard my daughter’s small voice very close to me. “Why is papa lying like this, this is not like him?” I saw her lovely, little face near me. “There is nothing wrong, please go to school,” I said feebly. But she was not convinced, and marched into the kitchen to warn my wife Hemalatha about my condition. Rightly so!

The question, “How could I get a heart attack despite doing my yoga practices?” rankled in my mind in the first two days I was in the hospital.

Hemalatha intuitively told the children to go ahead to school, promising that she would take care of me. She probably didn’t realize that I was having a heart attack – my first heart attack. Soon, she came by to check on me. “I think it sounds like an acute heart burn, why don’t you take an anti-acid? If it doesn’t become better we will consult the doctor,” she said calmly, not fully convinced that we needed to rush to the hospital. “We ought to go to the hospital,” I insisted. So, in half an hour we arrived at the hospital.

The doctors in Vijaya Hospital fortunately put me in the ICU immediately, and conducted the relevant tests. “You are having a heart attack because of a clot in your artery,” the doctor declared. “Since the attack has just started, we could try thrombolysis, a simple injection which may dissolve the blood clot, though we can only give a maximum of three injections in the next three hours. If your body doesn’t respond, we will need to do more advance procedures,” the doctor explained gently. I willingly agreed to take the injections.

First injection… the doctor’s eyes kept glancing at the clock. Tick tock. Tick tock. The nurses looked at the heart monitor; their faces remained tense. Worried.

Second injection... tick tock, tick tock... I saw doctors and nurses smiling now, and one of them even raised his hand in joy saying, “He is good!” I was back to normal in a jiffy. The clot had dissolved! “You are very lucky, Praveen, that you have come here in time. Otherwise things would have been different,” the doctor said to me, smiling in relief. Though my pain had subsided, a thousand questions reeled in my mind. “Why did I get this heart attack?” I wondered within myself.

Three years ago in 2013, at the time I was initiated into Shambhavi Mahamudra, I was suffering from acute gout and my cholesterol levels were very high. These conditions had developed despite the regular practice of a kriya that I’d learned from another famous yoga school. I never drank alcohol or smoked. My weight was normal. So there was no reason for me to have high cholesterol. I assumed it was genetic since my father had died at 40 years of age from a cardiac arrest.

I even ran at the Chennai Wipro Marathon this year, finishing 10 km in 63 minutes! I feel healthy and exuberant. Clearly I have taken the right path!

After taking the Inner Engineering program though, I experienced wonderful changes within me through the daily practice of Shambhavi. I began to regulate my food intake as well. I became peaceful, and a better listener – as my wife would teasingly point out!

But now, after the heart attack and lying in the hospital bed, I started to doubt the efficacy of Shambhavi Mahamudra. My friends and relatives who came to meet me in the hospital mocked me for being so committed to the practice. The question, “How could I get a heart attack despite doing my yoga practices?” rankled in my mind in the first two days I was in the hospital.

My questions and doubts were put to rest the next day. At the time of the attack, tests had shown that my cholesterol levels were within a safe range. Unable to find any reason I should have had the attack, my doctor asked for my health reports from a few years ago. As soon as he saw my previous report, he seemed shocked. The levels had been too high back then. “What have you been doing in the last three years? How did your levels come down like this? What medicine did you take?” He shook his head in disbelief. “Whatever you did, that has saved your life. This would have surely been a fatal attack had these levels not come down.” My doctor’s relieved amazement was the answer I’d been seeking.

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“The only medicine I have been taking since then is my daily dose of Shambhavi Mahamudra, as well as Isha Hatha Yoga,” I declared with pride.

Upon being released from the hospital two days later, I was prescribed a list of medicines. The doctor advised me to carry a particular medicine in my pocket always. “You should not lock the bathroom doors and above all, do not walk fast or do something hectic,” my doctor heartily advised, before I said good bye to him.

Well, I haven’t become as good a listener as Hemalatha thinks I have. But in the two years since, I never took any medicine. I even ran at the Chennai Wipro Marathon this year, finishing 10 km in 63 minutes! I feel healthy and exuberant. Clearly I have taken the right path!

I bow down to you Sadhguru!

Praveen, 41 years old, lives in Chennai. He runs Lakshmi Agencies, an FMCG Dealer, along with his family.