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Befriending Healthy Bones with Diet and Yoga

Diet  therapy is  beneficial  in  various forms of bones and joint problems like arthritis, gout, rheumatism etc. It is important to know which food item should be consumed or totally avoided as sometimes the underlying cause of such problems  is merely because of food allergies or reaction. In  such bone associated problems, softdrinks, additives, egg yolk, fried foods, red meats, vinegar, hot spices, alcohol, roasted dry nuts should be avoided. Low sugar, low salt, low fat diet should be generally taken.

Main target area related to joint problem is the knee. According  to the Ayurvedic concept of sandhi vyaadhi (joint disease), the joint problems are caused by inappropiate lifestyle and diet, some underlying systemic imbalance (poor metabolism, indigetsion), over exertion of the joints, hereditary factor etc. Either due to the the imbalance of vata dosha (governing vyaan vaayu), the knee joints become too weak having low bone density and emits a cracking sound with mild to severe pain, or, the knees become swollen up and painful due to the over accumulation of sticky waste products of the body in the knee joint which is known as “aama ” in Ayurveda. When, Vata dosha is vitiated in the body, it causes the joint pain and fragility of the bones, hence, it’s important to eat vata-pacifying diet. (Like use of ghee in dals, rye, sesame seeds, good source of calcium like organic milk, coriander seeds, cottage cheese etc). For reducing the aama dosha which causes arthritis, one should eat light and dry food items like fresh vegetables, fruits, salads, herbal spices to increase digestive fire, use of ginger, cumin, fennel, black pepper, etc., in preparing the food.

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Why Do We Do 5-Day Courses At The Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre?

One of our main goals at the HIYC is to help our students to develop into lifelong practitioners of yoga. One of the chief ways we hope to achieve this is by ensuring that all new students commit to at least one 5-day course with our teachers and assistants here at the centres in Goa and Dharamsala, India. Ideally, we recommend students to complete three or four 5-day courses because there is a progression over the weeks and evolution of the poses. In that time they will have a deeper understanding of all the core poses that do not change whether you are doing the introductory course or whether you are a teacher here at the centre. The poses evolve, both physically, in terms of the instructions given by the teacher at each stage, and in terms of your awareness of them at the subtler level. After 3 weeks of 5-day courses your awareness will be heightened and you will be greatly attuned to the subtleties of your body. So, the more courses completed the better but even two or just one week will furnish you with the skills you need to carry you on your own path to self-realisation.

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Why We Don’t Practice Inversions During Menstruation?

Here at the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre we practise inversions… lots of inversions. Many of us are pretty addicted  to them and so missing out on shoulder stand, Halasana and of course - everybody’s favourite – hanging Sirshasana –  for four to six days when you have your period can feel very inconvenient. Most of us who love our daily hanging have been in the situation of thinking ‘oh, it’s not so heavy this month’ or ‘I think it’s almost finished’ so that we can get our inversion fix and we hang anyway. Some women, sadly, are even embarrassed to be seen to be missing out on the inversions – particularly ones done in class like shoulder stand – and some of us just resent and are resistant to the idea that we are somehow less capable for a few days each month. And yet, there are some good reasons that we at the HIYC do NOT recommend any inversions during menstruation.

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The Law of Cause and Effect

The law of cause and effect is a universal law, just like gravity. It stands for a definite as it brings a definite effect. In our yoga practice, we also understand this law with the Sanskrit word Hatha: the balance between "Ha" which is the action, and "Tha" the reflection of that action.

The law of cause and effect is a fundamental concept that we learn right from the beginning of our practice at the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre. We observe in Tadasana for example, how stretching the toes brings power into our front thighs. Stretching the toes is the cause, the action, and feeling our thighs becoming firm is the effect.

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Yoga Therapy for Women

According to the „Hatha Yoga Pradipika”, the female energy in yoga is represented as Ida the lunar pole opposite of the male energy Pingala. Ida represents the emotional, nurturing, intuitive wholistic and introverted aspects of humanity, it is these lunar energies which keep the world in a more harmonious state. It is said that it is the female who is the transporter of energy and it is she who iniates a spiritual journey into higher consciousness. However this is not such the case in todays society, rather quite the opposite. Women and her beautiful energetic strengths are opressed, manipulated and humilated. What happened to the spiritual iniater described in these ancient yogic texts? A male dominated ego driven society.

Yogic practice can bring women back in touch with this feminine power which once upon a time shone so brightly. Through the practice of yoga women can attune to their natural energetic rythym which has been opressed through centuries of manipulation and dillusion. A woman is faced with many challenges and obstacles through her course of life physical and emotional such as the challenges faced by a patriarchal society, menstruation, child birth, menopause and mental health. All of which can be aided through yoga therepy and a consistent yoga practice. Yoga therapy can be an effective practice in both preventing, improving and even eradicating some of these obstacles.

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Yoga and Mental Attitude

The content of our thoughts not only effect the way in which we relate to ourselves, however also those around us. In society, especially the west we spend far too much time, money and energy on looking after the physical body opposed to wellbeing of our mental health. A positive mental attitude and a mind of less distructive emotions can be an answer to a more peaceful society with less suffering . Our thoughts and emotions are in constant fluctuations as so is the entire universe. A healthy mental attitude not only gives fruit to a happier life of less suffering however leads us on the path to a more compassionate way of being, to ourself and the world at large.

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Love but Learn Endurance

Have you ever been heart-broken?Disgusted with the life at personal grounds? I am sure most of us must have gone through the circumstantial distress where nothing seems perfect in life. Whatever thing wedesire for, it happens to stand out of the question and turns impossible. Many of us become a title of gossips and speculations as we seem so apprehensive and depressed most of the time. But, the primemost question is “why are we heartbroken?”

Love is not a reason to frown, although, flowers of love do bear thorns as well. Also, all love stories do not have perfect ending.But, that’s not the end of life.We tend to make our life miserable unwantedly.It’s a human nature, to over-think about the things which didn’t turn out well in life.The separation, the bereavement, betrayals and so on.We keep clinging to such unpleasant emotions for too long that they become a part of our behavioural instinct.However, we turn a blind eye towards the things which are still there in store for us. The people left behind still care for us. It’s quite obvioubeing pulled towards the source from where we get more attention, affection and love.Relations grow deeper with time and so deeply we get attached to them.A dependency forms a place. In its absence, it seems like we have had a worst nightmare parting from our dear ones.Though, we all are aware of the factthat”nothing lasts forever”.Every living and non-living thing has an expiry date and that is the hard fact of life which we need to accept bravely rather falling into depression or loneliness .

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Strength in Our Yoga Practice

Many people search for strength from their yoga practice but the pursuit of strength is one sided and cannot lead to a wholesome yoga practice. In fact it is not yoga at all.

In Chinese philosophy yin and yang is a symbol that shows how two apparently opposite forces are in fact interconnected. The black and the white of yin-yang are endlessly entwined and each is inhabited by the other in the form of a dot of the opposite colour. Therefore, it shows how the existence of any one reality or concept automatically implies its opposite and indeed necessitates it as they are interdependent and complementary parts of a whole. So we cannot speak of something without implying its opposite, and depending on it to create wholesomeness.

'Strength' is a good example of this; it is generally considered a positive attribute whereas on the other side we perceive the negative one of weakness. Where we are not strong we imagine we are weak and in yoga practice this encourages people who fear weakness to overwork and overstrain their bodies from the desire to be strong. Instead of weakness we should think of softness, receptiveness and ability to let go. In fact we will see that in order to create a wholesome practice we must embrace these qualities and that without so doing, focus on strength will only ever bring more imbalance.

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Four Essential Oils to Improve Your Life

Essential oils have been used medicinally throughout history. More people are enjoying the benefits of aromatherapy, a branch of natural medicine that harnesses the curative effects of essential oils and other aromatic compounds:

* Dab a few drops of peppermint oil on temples, neck and sinuses to banish headaches
* Rubbing a drop of peppermint oil on the stomach can relieve indigestion
* Take internally to ease stomach cramping or diarrhea
* Use as a natural painkiller and muscle relaxant in teething babies or after dental work

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Space in Yoga Practice

In Ayurveda Space is the element in which everything is manifested and within which all other elements are held. Just as sound cannot exist in a vacuum, and chemical reactions cannot take place without oxygen around them, life and we as manifestations of living, cannot exist without space. Without Space nothing can happen. It does not *make* anything happen, rather it *allows* things to happen.  Space is everywhere and yet has no quantifiable existence; it exists only in the distance between entities. Thus, we can use our bodies to both create space and measure its effects.

How do we create space in our yoga practice? Firstly, in asanas we stretch and twist and bend to open up our bodies and release tensions. Tension causes the body to be tight and dense and releasing them brings lightness and softness to it. On a subtler level, within the postures we use our breath to further increase the space created. With each inhale our body literally expands, taking up more space in its surroundings as the space within it increases. On the inhale we are more aware of any tensions present. We then use the exhale to soften those tensions, to relax and let go. With every exhale tension is lessened and so the next inhale will go deeper as more space is found.

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Love Can Happen After Marriage! # Relations #

The title may seem obnoxious to some people but, it’s all how we perceive what’s being written. To begin with, I would like to quote marriage as an everlasting bond of two people (emotionally as well as physically). Unlike other relations marriage does not come alone rather, it comes with a big responsibility and bondages that impart a sense of security and maturity to the people living in this institution. Along with this, there are certain observances which are being followed by every married man and woman, since, we were being taught to follow these observances strictly by our elders.  Code of morality in the society is judged by certain things that are reflected outerly by a couple. Nobody knows the inside story. We have heard so much about both kind of marriages (love marriage and arranged marriage). Have anyone realised that even in the arranged marriage people fall in love later, after being married? Only difference to fall in love after marriage and even on being married is the “person” for whom we fall. It’s so obvious that we cherish the moments spent with a life partner. All the good and joyful times and even the lows of life together. Psychologically also, it’s somewhere imbibed in our minds that the other person whom we have taken as our life partner, we are in love with them from the day one, when both barely knew each other. But, honestly that’s a cheating to oneself. All it needs to fill up the gap in any relation is the time. Giving time to each other, developing understanding for the likes and dislikes of each other, their usual habits, from their favourite colour to their most disliked song, you need to know everything about your mate and that what’s called a perfect compatibility. It cannot be acquired merely by sleeping together from the day you get married and explaining yourself every day that it’s actually love. There are lot many couples we come across, who are not even sure whether they love their spouse or not? Or is the spark of love still alive between them? Some of us live confused while some even don’t pay heed to the inner conscience questions. We just know one thing and that is to go with the flow. This is not called transparency. We are not clear with our own self. What’s there on the tongue should be there in the heart. You need to insist on valuing relationships to attain harmony and peaceful living. Let’s take it further…

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Yogis and the Fasting Facts

Fasting for health benefits is being known to everyone since ages. Basically, the word ”fasting” means an abstinence from eating any food. However, fasting is carried out in various distinct manners. Some of the people relate to it as a means of detoxifying the body, some believing it to be an easier means of remaining fit and slim, while some believe in the strong connotation between fasting and spirituality. Also it is believed to strengthen our prayers.

The repute of fasting as the main therapeutic tool in the treatment of multitudinal diseases including heart dieseases, high blood pressure, cancer, obesity, pancreatitis, arthritis, ulcers, epilepsy, etc, is gaining high importance rapidly, making it more popular. The reason is that a fast allows natural healing to occur as our body has an innate ability to normalise itself if given a “FASTING chance”. But there is a proper way to fast of course! When we speak of the fasting, we generally think of yogis, saints and their fasting lifestyle.

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Positive Parenting - Strong Foundation!

A foundation as we say relates to the base or the roots of any subject. Here, the subject is a child and issue persists with the ways of nurturing and raising him. Who as a parent does not want to have a peaceful and harmonious life with the kids. Yet, we come across so many disturbed families where the story of parenthood is nothing but full of tears and regrets. It seems really unbelievable that how as a parent one fails to understand a child. But the exact cause of this problem does not lie in raising. Rather, it lies in the development process of a child.

Every human is at his developing stage during childhood. Development and maturity of physical, mental, social and emotional state. The growth milestones are chasing the ways to be attained. At this tiny age, bonding with the child must begin. Bonding and emotional attachment are the two words to be carefully perceived here. We all have a bonding with our parents and that’s the reason we stand up to the place where we are today. Bonding can be merely looking after the needs of children, asking them about their pocket money, feeding and dressing them well. In fact, there lies a bond between every relation. Bond of friendship, bond of brotherhood etc. Parenting needs extra care and compassion for raising a child. Being emotionally attached means to understand the child even without words. To bring a sense of security from within a child, by our loving gestures, expressions, cuddles and kisses that no matter what, parents are always there to shield them. This is one of the reason itself that mostly children are more attached and share their feelings with their mother because their caresses never fades with age in her case. Emotionally secure children are mostly full of self-confidence and are found to be more affectionate to their parents. It’s not the quality that matters to children. It’s the depth that touches their tender hearts. Parents who do not have good enough time for their kids are generally swept away with stress, impatience and irritability. This is due to the lack of mental stability and absence of proper yoga and meditation practice in today’s busy life. To keep the temperament positive, every parent should be self-observant and enlightened enough by wisdom. When one decides to enter parenthood, he or she must be sure that they have enough rightful time for their kids. A heart of a child knows no rule, no language. It simply follows the gratitude and art of love which dwells inside him easily if being reciprocated the same by parents. If parents would shout in front of their kids, kids will learn the same. Kids have unprocessed and pure minds so they grasp very quickly.

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Poisoned Thoughts

It’s amazing to realise that how our mouth starts watering merely by thinking or speaking about some scrumptious foods. Have we ever taken this really seriously? Seriousness that thoughts are controlling our mind, and in fact, controlling our entire lives every second. When without taking anything inside our mouth, the lingual glands starts secreting, then just by directing our thoughts in a negative direction, how many endocrine glands may produce toxic effect in our mind and body?

The healthy roots of thought process would only bear the fruits of healthy and successful living. By keeping our thoughts malignant, one cannot hope for peace and inner contentment. This is spiritually connected. It can be well understood when the word “telepathy” comes into play. Often when we are missing or thinking about someone so deeply they actually show up or turn up by making a surprise phone call to us. It is because we hold very strong positive feelings for them, we think good about them, and this in turns, works as a magic. The world is connected by the soul of all the beings and things in the Universe. We all are a mass of energy in a mobile state. We all keep on transferring such energy to the people with whom we interact, meet daily, love or hate. Many times we feel a sense of receiving negative vibes from other person which makes us uncomfortable being in their company. We hardly wish to meet them again or sit close to them. Actually there is nothing wrong with the other person but the exact problem lies somewhere in his negative thought process which creates a negative aura around him. Recalling all the wrongs that have ever happened to us and looking at every issue with a contradictory point of view develops into a kind of catastrophe around us, that only tends to attract more and more of the negative charges from the surroundings and people and hence, proves harmful. The nexus of negativity around us is the poisoned thoughts inside us.

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What does it mean to be free?

Why is it so important to find freedom so we can live in harmony with ourselves and others?

Freedom in the physical body is experiences when there is a feeling of unending space, comfort, balance and ease.

Freedom in the mind is experienced when there is a silence, stillness and complete connection to everything within and around us.

Freedom in society is to continue being your authentic self and not allowing what you have been told or conditioned to think engross or limit you.

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Yoga Teachers Training Course at Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre

Yoga Teachers Training has been the talk of the town in the present times and similar to the fate of other courses this has also been misunderstood by the people probably due to the pattern in which it is being taught and the way it is being utilised as a commercial tool for money oriented goals. The teachers training course at Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre (HIYC) is designed to challenge these general ill conceptions about Yoga training.

Unlike the 200 hours and 400 hours program for Yoga, here at Himalayan Yoga Centre we profess intensive training programs divided in various levels. These levels are designed rigorously by our master teacher Sharat Arora in order to bestow the best training for Yoga. The training constitutes of three levels which emphasise on focused grooming of individual – the preceding Intensive Course, the Teachers Training Course and the extended Assisting/Hands-On period at the Yoga Centre. The primary part of the TTC incorporates the 3 weeks of the Intensive Yoga Course concentrating on a particular subject, setting up the students for a profound investigation in their Yoga Practice. This time is devoted for the serious every day Practice of Asanas, Meditation, Relaxations and Pranayama - from ahead of schedule morning until dusk. This time is an aggregate retreat where the students dedicate themselves totally to self-investigation, change and reconstruction, leaving next to no or no time for other activities. This stage is considered to be very essential for the students as without these 3 weeks of intensive training students are not enrolled to the next level.

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Attention-Deficit-Disorder (ADD) and Dietary Cure

In last five years, the number of cases of ADD or hyperactivity medications has doubled. ADD is  a central nervous system disorder. According to Ayurveda it’s the imbalance of the VATA (Air) in the body. As the Vata holds characteristics of being light, mobile and dry, it dominates our thought process and movement of our body. The resulting brain chemistry imbalance affects thinking, mood and activity. Learning and behaviour problems occur like lack of concentration, mood swings, sleep disturbances, anxiety, low stress tolerance and aggressive behaviour. Thus, eliminating the causing or contributing factors to this problem is very important.

To counteract the toxic affect, being produced during the over stimulation of CNS, it’s better to adopt a safe and natural side to cure. For this purpose instead of switching onto ADHD drugs to release good neurotransmitters in the nervous system, why not practicing yoga and meditation for balancing the vitiated Vata, which is the root cause of the disorder? The practice of yoga and meditation is beyond compare. The results are always stupendous when we stick to natural things. This is achieved by both the ways, that’s along with the yoga and meditation practices, healthy diet instructions are also needed to cope up well with the health problems.

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The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) and The Yoga Understanding


The central nervous system (CNS) is the computer that manages all the nervous information. This fonction is done by the brain. For its communication the CNS needs nerves. There are two big types of nerves :

  • Afferent or sensory, they carry sensitive information from the periphery to the CNS (ex : the feeling of the centre of the heel touching the ground)

Efferent or motor, they carry motor information from the CNS to the periphery (ex. the message is sent for the arm or leg to bend)

The efferent nerves are divided in to groups :

  • The somatic nervous system is responsible for the volunteer action (ex : I press the centre of the heel down)
  • The autonomic nervous system (ANS) gives the information to the organs, and help them to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis can be defined as a property of an organism or system that helps it maintain its parameters within a normal range of values. (ex : regulate te heart beats)


The ANS has two arms, parasympathetic and sympathetic. The parasympathetic division promotes maintenance functions and conserves body energy. The sympathetic division mobilizes the body during activity. Both divisions generally serve the same visceral organs but cause opposite effects : while one division stimulates certain smooth muscle to contract or a gland to secret, the other division inhinibs that action. Through this dual innervation the two divisions counterbalance each other to keep body systems running smoothly. The two divisons don’t work at the same time.


It is the « rest and digest » system and keeps the body’s energy use as low as possible. It is performing the « housekeeping » activities as digesting food, eliminating feces and urine. This explains why it’s good idea to relax after heavy meal : so that sympathetic activity does not interfere with digestion.
Exemple of action : low heart beats, activate the gastro-intestinal tract, constriction of the pupils.


The location of the parasympathetic system is mainly in two parts :

Sacrum : with a connection to small intestine, rectum, urinary system, uterus and ovaries, sexual organs.

Cranial, base of the skull : with a connection to eyes, heart, lung, liver, stomach, pancreas, large and small intestine, etc.

Any posture working on this two areas will also send information to the organs associated.

The particular asana which stimulates the sympatetic nervous system is Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand).


It is the « fight or flight » system. Its activity is evident when we are excited or find ourselves in emergency, or fearfull situation, etc.

Example of action : rapid heart beats, fast breathing, dry mouth, cold sweaty skin, constrict blood vessels to activate the skeletal muscles, dilated lung, etc.


The location of the sympathetic system take place in sympathetic ganglion just next to the thoracic and lombar vertebras.

Any kind of posture working on this area will also send information to the organs associated.

The particular asana which stimulates the parasympatetic nervous system is Hanging Sirsasana.

Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre
Antione Brandi

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Blood Circulation in Hanging Sirsasana, Variation 3

In the previous 2 articles of this series we have talked about what is happening in Hanging Sirsasana in Variation 1 (With the legs in Baddhakona) and Variation 2 (With the legs in Upavishtakona) and now continue to the Variation 3.

Variation 3 (With the legs Together Straight Up)
Position of the body

  • The head is upside down.
  • The knees are in neutral position.
  • Coxofemoral joints are in neutral position.
  • There is a global traction of the spine.
  • Decompression of the head.
  • The ribs are in inspiration.
  • The shoulders are in full flexion, 90° internal rotation.
  • The scapulas are in upward rotation.
  • The fore arms are in neutral position.
  • The wrist are in neutral position.
  • The belt is pressing on the sacrum and the iliac joint creating a « block » beetween them.
  • The stick is pushing back the quadriceps muscle.

The diaphragm is being pushed up (looking at the body anatomy & physiology point of view and downward – towards the floor – looking from the inverted position point of view) by the pression of the liver, the stomach and pulled down (looking at the body anatomy & physiology point of view and upward – towards the ceiling – looking from the inverted position point of view) by the traction of the heart and the lungs.

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Blood Circulation in Hanging Sirsasana, Variation 2

In the previous article we have talked about what is happening in Hanging Sirsasana in Variation 1 (With the legs in Baddhakona) and now continue to the Variation 2.

Variation 2 (With the legs in Upavishtakona)
Position of the body

  • The head is upside down.
  • The feet are semi-active.
  • The knees are in full or semi-extension.
  • The coxofemoral joints are in abduction.
  • There is a global traction of the spine.
  • Decompression of the head.
  • The ribs are in inspiration.
  • The shoulders are in full flexion, 90° internal rotation.
  • The scapulas are in upward rotation.
  • The fore arms are in neutral position.
  • The wrists are in neutral position.
  • The belt is pressing on the sacrum and the iliac joint creating a « block » beetween them.
  • The belt is pushing on the front of the tensor fasciae latae muscle.
  • The belt in pushing inside the sartorius, rectus femoris and vastus medialist muscles.

The diaphragm is being pushed up (looking at the body anatomy & physiology point of view and downward – towards the floor – looking from the inverted position point of view) by the pression of the liver, the stomach and pulled down (looking at the body anatomy & physiology point of view and upward – towards the ceiling – looking from the inverted position point of view) by the traction of the heart and the lungs.

How this position of the body affects the blood circulation ?

In the second variation there is not a big difference of the blood circulation in the trunk and the upper extremities comparing to the first variation. However the legs are now paralell or almost paralell (depending on the individual person’s flexibility in the groins) to the ground and it puts them into the neutral position in regard to the gravity – and therefore neutral blood circulation.



Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre
Antoine Brandi

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