Scientific validations of Yoga-Asanas

The anatomy of the body, the weight and size of the brain are almost the same in all humans. God has been uniformly kind to everybody in this respect. The white and the black, the tall and the short, the savage and the sage all have brains of similar size and shape with same anatomical structure. In spite of that, we find startling diversity and difference in the emotional, intellectual and mental faculties, talents and skills in individual human beings.

Some people are wise and exceptionally brilliant, while others, despite living under same socioeconomic conditions and having similar physical health and appearance, find it difficult to efficiently perform even the ordinary tasks and essential duties of life. Some are altruists, generous, affectionate and kind, while others are apathetic, selfish and cruel. Some have cheerful temperament and enthusiastic fervor to perform their duties and daily chores; some enjoy playing and have special talents in sports; still there are many who are not interested in any game, they live a lethargic, dull and aimless life…., and life is a burden for them. Why this contrast? How the mental, emotional and intellectual levels of people vary so drastically? These questions have always motivated research in the areas of behavioral psychology and neurochemistry. The quest for scientifically probing the magical world of human-brain has been going on ever since the advent of human civilization.

The scientists of yore had adopted the approach of subtle science of spirituality to gain knowledge about human mind and to creatively control the functioning of the brain. Modern scientists have adopted an approach beginning from the gross analysis of the physicochemical reactions and study of their effects manifested in behavioral changes. Progress of this research is now opening newer dimensions of the subtle aspects of human brain. The study of hormones has offered amazing information to the researchers who consider physiological and biochemical processing to be the basic cause of different functions of the brain. The front-line researchers now believe that the root cause of secretion of the enormous varieties of hormones are yet unknown because of the subtle nature of different levels of consciousness affecting the mind.

Even a single drop of some hormones secreted within the brain is found to bring about drastic changes in the body-functions.
The temperament and the emotional manifestations too are found to vary because of the fluctuations in specific hormonal levels. Many hormones and neurochemicals contained in the tiny neurons, have now been identified and analyzed in the laboratories. These include; those found to be associated with fatigued or energetic state of the body and the alacrity of mind, and those which can stimulate or suppress the expressions of love, compassion, cheerfulness etc.
The hormone-secreting glands seem to offer even newer wonders before the endocrinologists to further accelerate research in the related areas of neuroscience.

It is a surprising coincidence that the existence of the mysterious neuro-chemicals came into light through the study of some diseases like aboulia and amnesia in which the mind goes into depression or becomes dull and dormant by losing memory and intellectual sharpness. Some scientists at the American National Institute of Mental Health had found that the activity or inhibition of an enzyme called MAO (Mono Amine Oxidase) is largely responsible for the changes in peoples temperaments.
The normal as well as the unusual emotional expressions of different persons – cheerfulness and irritation, alacrity and accede etc. – are found to depend on the inhibition or activation by other enzymes and chemicals of the neurohormonal secretions of MAO.

According to Dr. Andrew Baptist, a behavioral psychologist by profession, there are two major classes of neuro-chemicals: one, the group of MAO-enzymes and the other, that of different neurotransmitters such as, epinephrine, dopamine, serotonine, etc. The MAOs suppress the functions of the neurotransmitters. A third group of neurotransmitters has also been discovered which preserves the activity and blood-level of the neurotransmitters. This helper group mainly consists of the enzymes of endorphin category. The research findings of Dr. Andrew and others indicate that excessive secretion of MAO often triggers lethargy, dullness, mental restlessness and tension. The activation of the second group can suppress the effects of MAO and induce alacrity, enthusiasm, relaxation and cheerfulness. The enzymes like encephalon etc of the endorphin group further enhance the activity of the neurotransmitters and accelerate positive effects on mental and emotional conditions. People are found to show greater mental concentration and efficiency in their tasks-in-hand when the secretion and activities of the neurotransmitters and hormones of the latter groups are on.

Dr. Kraftsman and Dr. John Crookschank of Baltimore University have carried out intensive research on human psychology and psychosomatic diseases. The results of their studies suggest that whenever the activity of MAO increases, it inhibits the normal secretion of the neurotransmitters in the brain. This gives rise to mental restlessness, gloom and distress. Similar effects are induced by the rising toxicity in the environment. In view of the analysis of positive effects of some anti-depression drugs, these scientists prescribe the hormones of endorphin family as the inhibitors of the negative effects of MAO. Persons having substantial levels of active endorphins enjoy an open, happy and healthy mentality free from emotional complexes and stresses. Such temperamental traits can be triggered to some extent by balanced doses of anti-depressant medicines and steroids, which stimulate the secretion of different neurotransmitters.

Apart from the medications, some behavioral psychologists also found use of autosuggestion, hypnotism and biofeedback techniques as effective. They opine that the steroids, though useful in inducing positive effects by activating the secretion of the corresponding hormones, are not harmless. The side effects of steroids are often so severe that they create other serious physiological and mental problems that require further stronger drug medication.In order to avoid this vicious cycle, these and many other researchers are now investigating the alternative techniques of autosuggestive biofeedback based counseling etc to maintain healthy functioning of neurotransmitters in a natural manner. Considering the fast increasing pollution in physical, mental and emotional spheres of life and the associated rise in the occurrence of mental stress, hypertension, depression and other psychosomatic disorders, investigations of this kind appear all the more important and necessary.

Stanford Research Centre in USA has a separate department for studies on oriental meditation-based psychotherapies.
The scientists of this centre have found that the above mentioned three major types of hormones/ neuro-chemicals responsible for inducing gloom and despair or energy and joy etc, express the reactions of internal emotions through the medium of the secretions of the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in the brain. Their experiments show that these neurohormonal secretions can be regulated by the practices of dhyan, dhara, yoganidra and other sadhanas of mental and emotional control.

The results of initial research on a few hormones whose secretion in the blood manifests remarkable reactions and effects had excited the scientific community towards further research on these astonishing biomolecules. Hormonal effects on physical structure of the body, complexion and beauty, youthfulness and aging, puberty, concupiscence etc, and the fight or flight type reactions against mental stress and strain, etc have been the focus of research in neurochemistry and endocrinology.

Growing research in the fields of brain-chemistry or neurohormonal secretions has offered deeper insight into many aspects of behavioral psychology and personality- development, which were unknown to the modern scientists until recently. Although, the science of spirituality and associated yoga-sadhana had detailed mentions of the subtle aspects of human mind-body relationships, the modern scientists were not attracted to study them owing to the lack of visible evidences.
The laboratory research on the micro world of hormones and recognition of the tremendous effects of mental and emotional levels on neurohormonal secretions has now opened up new frontiers of collaborative research in associated fields of the ancient and modern sciences.

According to the experts of neurochemistry and neurohistopathology, the chemistry of brain is quite peculiar and arcane. Several hormones that were believed as secreted by the glands in the digestive system and were found present in the corresponding portions of the body have now been discovered to be present in the brain as well. The group of such hormones includes ACTH (acetylcholine) and epinephrine. Significant amount of cholesystiqunine responsible for controlling acidic secretions in the stomach and glucoverticoides, secreted by the adrenal gland, is detected in the brain too. Scientific studies suggest the possibilities that these hormones might also be reacting as neuro-spinal transmitters whose excess in the brain may cause different psychosomatic disorders.

The psychosomatic diseases which manifest as peptic ulcer, cardiac arrest, mental instability, irritation, Bowels syndrome, ulcerative colitis, etc, are believed to be caused by the imbalance in the concentrations of above hormones. It should be noted that the occurrences of these types of diseases are increasing at a rapid rate and at present almost three-fourths of the world population especially in the developed and developing countries – is suffering from such abnormalities.

Little perturbation in the normal secretion pattern of the hormones such as the dopamine, gawa, serotonine etc, causes deformation in very sensitive centers of the brain and the nervous system and gives rise to amnesia, mental instability, Parkinsons disease, etc.
A healthy, well-educated, multi-talented scholar might also lose his memory and intelligence during the transition period of aging when such hormonal disorders are more likely to occur. Those who remain cheerful and keep themselves active in creative tasks and thus naturally restrain the secretion and negative effects of the MAOs and inhibitors, do not risk such hormonal problems in old age.

Neurochemists have found that the hormones secreted by the pineal and pituitary glands not only control the sex related activities, but, more importantly, they also affect and regulate ones decision making capabilities, thinking and sense of time and space etc. Thus, the hormonal secretions associated with puberty serve multiple purposes. Scientific studies have shown that the level of androgen sex hormone in males that is responsible for manhood and body-characteristics including the shape of testicle etc and the ability of time and space recognition and grasping power of men are interrelated. Lesser the level of androgen more would be the possibility of impotency and mental dullness. Similar interrelationships between mental sharpness, sex related functions of the body and mind, and specific hormonal secretions are found to exist in the females too.

The complexity of neurohormonal chemistry is so high that only a small fraction of the related reactions and functions has so far been analyzed in the laboratories. Collaborative research in psychology, endocrinology and neurology has become essential for identifying some of the latent activity and sensory centers in the human brain. The collective efforts of researchers at the Michael Ridge Hospital, Chicago, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Stanford Research Center are progressing well in this direction. Let us hope that deeper investigations in this regard would one day provide the knowledge of the subtle centers like sahastrara, brahmrandhras, anandmayakosha, agya chakra, etc, described in the ancient science of yoga, in a manner comprehensible to the modern scientists.

Findings of the above kinds of research would explain, in new scientific light, the mechanisms of rousing or suppressing the development of personality and transforming human behavior with the help of activation or inhibition of these subtle centers of consciousness in human brain.
Elucidation of psychosomatic disorders and knowledge of controlling related mental complexities would be the other benefits of these developments.

The now available knowledge of the sensitivity and multiplicity of neurochemical reactions gives us a glimpse of how the disciplined experiments of different sadhanas could awaken the internal powers of the brain. Practicing of many spiritual sadhanas is easy, harmless and inexpensive. Everybody can benefit from them in a natural way. Adopting them in day-to-day life can bestow manifold benefits on human society. The sincere practices of specific sadhana can transmute an ailing human life into one of immense peace and creative bliss.

—- The Article has been taken with due permission from All World Gyatri Pariwar. One can refer to the original Article here.

Scientific validations of Yoga-Asanas
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Five Things You Did Not Know About Teaching Yoga

A Yoga Teacher is a learner as well, an educator who is always striving for more knowledge and gaining new skills to bring improvements in his curriculum and impart better lessons. He goes beyond the conventional ways to add versatility to his existing format and bring something new and refreshing in his lesson. He is not only an educationist but also a guide and a counselor who can nurture his student’s inherent capabilities to make them capable enough to become a good teacher and a better human being.

However following are the few tips that can help the teacher to add value to an existing format of teaching:

Start the Class with Savasana

Generally, Savasana is done towards the middle or the end of the session, but if it is performed in the beginning, it can be very beneficial for the students who come to attend the session after their hectic schedule, so they are tired. Few minutes of Savasana can be very relaxing and can mentally prepare them to perform the poses.

Give Time for Meditation

Avoid starting the session with heavy poses. If you see students are drained, motivate them to sit with their eyes closed and meditate for few minutes. Teach them some meditation techniques, which would cool their mind and make them more at ease and then start the session but with lighter poses.

Modify the Poses

Many students attends yoga with a history of illness or a physical injury, or they might be currently suffering from any illness or pain, so it is highly suggested to modify the poses that suit their physical needs. The main skill lies in making space for them so that they feel comfortable in performing poses. If you feel breaking down the sequences will be more beneficial for the students, do it.

Teach Variations in Poses

If a student finds difficulty in performing a pose, provide a variation and teach how to perform it well. Demonstrate the variation and show how easy it would be if it is performed in a slightly modified way. The customized variation technique would make students feel comfortable in performing the asana.

Show Positive Attitude

Start your class with a positive note, an anecdote or a small story. These few words can fill the students with enthusiasm to perform their best.

The true skill of Yoga Master lies in on how well they teach the poses through modifications and necessary adjustments. Besides, Yoga teacher always tries to create an emotional connection with the students to understand them well. And a feeling of happiness and satisfaction, which they get after the class, cannot be described in words.

Five Things You Did Not Know About Teaching Yoga
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Why One should do Hatha Yoga?

Hatha Yoga is a preparatory process of yoga. Hatha is made up of two words “hakar”– the energy of sun and “takar”– the energy of moon. Hatha yoga is about balancing the sun energy and the moon energy in you. You can explore Hatha yoga in ways that take you beyond certain limitations, but fundamentally, it is a physical preparation – preparing the body for a higher possibility.

In our body both of the sun and the moon energy is present. When these energies are balanced, we experience peace and harmony of the mind and our lives. When these energies are imbalanced, it leads to disturbances and discord, agitation, unsatisfication and disharmony in life. Hatha Yoga is a yogic art to balance the energy of sun and moon, so that your body is in equilibrium and you feel peace & harmony. The energy of the sun effects Sympathetic Nervous System while the energy of moon effects Para-Sympathetic Nervous System.

In hatha yoga, there are stimulation asanas for example Surya Namaskar, etc. and relaxations asanas. These stimulation asanas helps in balancing the energy of sun while these relaxation asanas helps in balancing the energy of moon. The energy of sun is the life energy, the energy which drives us and makes us do work or activity while the energy of moon is the mental or cosmic energy which gives us mental thinking, intelligence and mental power.

So how these energies affect us? Well we can take children as an example- they are always hyperactive, often easily distracted as they have strong sun energy (life force) but less moon energy (mental force). When we look at elderly people, they are much less active as the energy of moon is dominant.

Hatha Yoga balances both energies, so that one can always be focused, active and mentally strong. The people who always gets distracted in life or unable to set their goals about life, should learn and practice Hatha Yoga.

 —– Written by One of Our Students who works at Cloudera. We share his personal experience with us and hatha Yoga and what he had learn here. 

” Once a time, I was also distracted, I drop out from my college, wasted my precious 5 years and created problems for many people including my family and myself. The Universe has some plans, I landed at Akshi Yogashala in Rishikesh, came here to learn Yoga under 200 Hrs TTC program ( Never to be a teacher 😀 ) and stayed for additional 3 months to deepen the practice but also to get focused for the life. The Yoga has changed me. Now I am working in Computer Vision and Robotics section at Cloudera. I learned most of the things, but Hatha Yoga has special place in my heart. I recommend that everyone should learn and practice Yoga. You can join Akshi Yogashala or any Yoga Teaching Center of Rishikesh – The Yoga Capital or any place. But Yes One should learn & practice Yoga.

 

Why One should do Hatha Yoga?
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Part 1 of 5 Ways Yoga And Meditation Can Help You Become Wealthy & Happy

We learned that one definition of rich is: “abundantly supplied with resources, means, or funds.”   In other words, wealth, or richness, is not limited to how much money one has. There are many other resources and means that we have at our disposal. To be rich is to possess a multifaceted gem.  The size of your bank account or the number of possessions you own are just two rather insignificant facets of that gem. See these 5 resources or facets which helps a person to become wealthy and happy

Akshi Yogashala will share 5 Points regarding Ways in which Yoga And Meditation Can Help You Become Wealthy & Happy. These Points are thoroughly studied and taught in the Yoga teacher Training classes held at Akshi Yogashala in Rishikesh, Nepal and Kerala. The first one is Self-Criticism or Self-Reflection.

Self-Criticism or Self-Reflection

Socrates stated that “the unexamined life is not worth living.”  In accordance with this sentiment, yoga teaches us to dovetail our tendencies to criticize others by reflecting upon ourselves.  We all have good and bad qualities.  We generally have a tendency to over inflate our good qualities and to overlook our bad qualities.  With others, however, it’s just the opposite.  We tend to overlook their good qualities and love to point out their faults.  This fault finding tendency will forever hamper our spiritual progress.  Therefore, it is highly recommended that we direct that tendency toward ourselves.

300 hour yoga teacher training in rishikesh india

What are we looking for? Arrogance, pride, false prestige, anger, conceit, ignorance, envy, lust, greed, covetousness, hatred, fault-finding tendencies, selfishness, hypocrisy, laziness, weakness, duplicity, hard-heartedness, over indulgence, lack of self-control and the like.

At first glance, we may not see any of this stuff in us and conclude that we are really good people. “I tithed at church, I gave alms to a beggar, I helped a little old lady cross the street, and I even helped Suzy with her homework. I really am a good person.”  But if we dig below the surface, we may find that we begrudgingly gave that tithe, because we wanted to use the money to buy beer for the Friday night party at Suzy’s house.  And, we might remember that we cheated on the tithe because we didn’t include the money we made for helping Suzy with her homework.  Then when we look at our act of giving alms to the beggar, we might realize that, at the time, we didn’t bother to respect that person, we were very puffed-up with pride, thinking the guy was a filthy, pathetic loser as we angrily tossed a few coins at him—coins, which by the way, could have bought another beer for the party.  And what was our attitude as we helped the old lady cross the street? “Ah, the old biddy is a menace to society.  Jez, now I got to wash my hands.  Who knows what kind of diseases she’s carrying around.”  And what was my motivation in helping Suzy with her homework?  Money and boys, because Suzy is cool and gets all the boys, if I’m her friend, then the boys will think I’m cool too.

Okay, I admit it, kind of silly examples.  The point is that if we examine ourselves and our motives, we will find many, if not all, of those qualities.  What then?  Do we hit ourselves over the head with a hammer?  No, first of all, we become more tolerant of others’ faults.  We see someone has a fault, but instead of criticizing that person, we are reminded that, in comparison to our own faults, his is nothing.  Secondly, we are reminded that we are far from perfect, therefore we need to focus on those yogic practices which help us advance. It does not mean we leave the attitude to help and cooperate our friends and society. We still continue to do good things for others, but we need to shift the thinking pattern behind it. There’s no need to go to battle with each and every fault we find in ourselves.  That is a futile battle doomed for failure.  Just increase the positive yogic practices and gradually the faults will fade away.

Part 1 of 5 Ways Yoga And Meditation Can Help You Become Wealthy & Happy
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सूर्य नमस्कार क्या है | What is Surya Namaskar in hindi?

‘सूर्य नमस्कार’ का शाब्दिक अर्थ सूर्य को अर्पण या नमस्कार करना है। यह योग आसन शरीर को सही आकार देने और मन को शांत व स्वस्थ रखने का उत्तम तरीका है।

सूर्य नमस्कार १२ शक्तिशाली योग आसनों का एक समन्वय है, जो एक उत्तम कार्डियो-वॅस्क्युलर व्यायाम भी है और स्वास्थ्य के लिए लाभदायक है। सूर्य नमस्कार मन वह शरीर दोनों को तंदुरुस्त रखता है।

यदि आपके पास समय की कमी है, और आप चुस्त दुरुस्त रहने का कोई नुस्ख़ा ढूँढ रहे हैं, तो सूर्य नमस्कार उसका सबसे अच्छा विकल्प है।

सूर्य नमस्कार प्रातःकाल खाली पेट करना उचित होता है। आइए अपने अच्छे स्वास्थ्य के लिए सूर्य नमस्कार के इन सरल और प्रभावी आसनों को आरंभ करें।

प्रत्येक सूर्य नमस्कार के चरण में १२ आसनों के दो क्रम होते हैं। १२ योग आसन सूर्य नमस्कार का एक क्रम पूर्ण करते हैं। सूर्य नमस्कार के एक चरण के दूसरे क्रम में योग आसनों का वो ही क्रम दोहराना होता है, अपितु केवल दाहिने पैर के स्थान पर बाएँ पैर का प्रयोग करना होगा (नीचे चौथे और नवें पद में इसका विवरण दिया गया है)। सूर्य नमस्कार के विभिन्न प्रारूप पाए जाते हैं, हालाँकि बेहतर यही है कि किसी एक ही प्रारूप का अनुसरण करें और उसी के नियमित अभ्यास से उत्तम परिणाम पाएँ।

अच्छे स्वास्थ्य के अतिरिक्त सूर्य नमस्कार धरती पर जीवन के संरक्षण के लिए हमें सूर्य के प्रति आभार प्रकट करने का अवसर भी देता है। अगले 10 दिनों के लिए अपना दिन, मन में सूर्य की ऊर्जा के प्रति आभार और कृपा का भाव रखकर प्रारंभ करें।

१२ सूर्य नमस्कार और दूसरे योग आसनों (Yoga asana) को करने पश्चात योग निद्रा में पूर्ण विश्राम अवश्य करें। आप पाएँगे कि यह आपके चुस्त दुरुस्त, प्रसन्न और शांत रहने का मंत्र बन गया है; एक मंत्र जिस का प्रभाव दिन भर आप के साथ रहेगा I सूर्य नमस्कार – एक पूर्ण यौगिक व्यायाम

 

Read In English: What is Sun Salutation?

 

सूर्य नमस्कार के १२ आसन | 12 Steps of Surya Namaskar in Hindi:

  1. प्रणाम आसन | Prayer pose
  2. हस्तउत्तानासन | Hastauttanasana (Raised Arms pose)
  3. हस्तपाद आसन | Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot pose)
  4. अश्व संचालन आसन | Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)
  5. पर्वत आसन | Parvatasana (Mountain pose)
  6. अष्टांग नमस्कार | Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute With Eight Parts Or Points)
  7. भुजंग आसन |Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
  8. पर्वत आसन | Parvatasana (Mountain pose)
  9. अश्वसंचालन आसन | Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)
  10. हस्तपाद आसन | Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot pose)
  11. हस्तउत्थान आसन | Hastauttanasana (Raised Arms pose)
  12. प्रणाम आसन | Prayer pose
सूर्य नमस्कार क्या है | What is Surya Namaskar in hindi?
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Let’s Start our day with Surya Namaskar

Sun is the major reason of life on earth which provide a great source of energy. To show gratitude towards the sun, ancient yogis found that Surya namaskar is the best way to gain the divine impulse of light and “salute to the sun” for the creation of life.

Surya Namaskar is said to be complete body work out. Doing 12 sets of Surya Namaskar, which means 288 poses in 12-15 minutes. In every yoga style like Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa we have Sun Salutation series but with slight change in the poses.

The meaning of “Surya Namaskar is Surya = Sun, Namaskar = Salutation” i.e; “Saluting or honoring The Sun”, and internalize it, or makes it part of your system to gain its many physical and spiritual benefits to stay healthy. This is a complete video of How to do Surya Namaskar step by step.

 

Why Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) is good for you?

Sun has a great source of energy, and performing Surya Namaskar during sunrise provide lots of health benefits to every body parts as the sunshine is free from the UV rays. In these pose, body stretch deeply from top to bottom.

The body parts that affect positively are heart, liver, intestine, stomach, chest, throat, and legs. Instead of all these, it purifies the blood and circulates it to each part of the body to let them function well. It also relaxes your mind and soul.

How Many Calorie Burn in Surya Namaskar?

Calorie burn in 30 minutes of workout:

Weight lifting = 199 calories
Tennis = 232 calories
Basketball = 265 calories
Beach volleyball = 265 calories
Football = 298 calories
Bicycling (14 – 15.9 mph) = 331 calories
Rock climbing = 364 calories
Running (7.5mph) = 414 calories
Surya Namaskar = 417 calories

To reach up to this level of calorie burn, you have to keep increasing from beginner to 108 rounds of Surya Namaskar for weight loss.

How many times to do Surya Namaskar in a Day?

  • The best time to do Surya Namaskar is morning time during sun rise. Let the sunshine fall on your body, and start.
  • Make sure your stomach is empty. You can practice it in evening also, during sun set.
  • Ideally, you should practice at least 12 rounds of Surya Namaskar every day which means 6 sets with right leg and 6 set with left leg. But for a beginner, it’s best to start with less number, at least one to four rounds is enough for 1 month. Then gradually, you can increase the number of sets.
  • 4 is the best number to start Surya Namaskar Yoga for beginners.  But don’t overstretch as beginners and try to practice under the supervision of expert initially.

How many Surya Namaskar in a day to lose weight?

One round of Surya Namaskar burns up to 13.90 calories for an average weighing person. You can now set the target for yourself. Slowly you can increase the number of rounds of Surya Namaskar to 108. By the time you reach this number, you will find a leaner you.

Let’s Start our day with Surya Namaskar
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