Application of yoga to treat lifestyle diseases, now a distant dream, may become a reality in the near future with the Pune-based Center for Behavioural Medicine (CBM) and Munich-based Yoga Forum set to introduce short-term yoga courses for doctors and yoga trainers to treat diabetes, obesity and hypertension.
In a paper presented at a session on “Ancient Indian Sciences through Sanskrit” during the Indian Science Congress in Mumbai University, Leena Phadke, associate professor at Smt Kashibai Navale College and General Hospital, said their ongoing research since 2005 on yoga and its medical effects on the body showed positive impact of yoga on heart rate, electro-cardio gram, muscles and brain.
“We have developed ambulatory polygraph to measure different parameters of body, including skull, during yoga postures. Through mathematical analysis, we recorded ECG, electromyography, heart rate and state of brain. It was found that during the toughest yoga postures, like shirasana, the brain was relaxed like it is during sleep,” Phadke said.
With their research published in several medical journals, CBM now aims to bring yoga to the mainstream medicine. “Just like medicines are prescribed by physicians, yoga asanas should be prescribed to treat ailments,” said Veena Londhe, professor from Department of Sanskrit.
According to Sanjay Phadke, managing trustee at CBM, proper training was essential to avoid yoga therapists or doctors from prescribing wrong yoga postures. “It will be a six-month course. And we expect equal participation from doctors and yoga therapists,” Phadke said.
Ancient Yoga, Patanjali, was one of the topics presented. “In the 13th century, benefits of Patanjali were discussed in Sanskrit. Those benefits can be used to treat human ailments now,” Londhe added.
Report: INDIAN SCIENCE CONGRESS 102nd Session, hosted by the University of Mumbai Symposium on Ancient Indian Sciences through Sanskrit & Science Exhibition
This was another unique presentation where the process of Yoga was analysed and documented by Dr. Leena Phakde. Dr. Veena Londhe (Professor – Sanskrit), a yoga practitioner for many years along with Dr. Leena Phakde documented the state of the human body during the practice of Yogasanas. This state was also compared to the contemporary exercise techniques like aerobics to understand the effect they have on the human body. As per Dr. Leena Phakde the effect that Yogas anas has on the human body is that of a calming one as against the other techniques. Also, Dr. Veena Londhe says that, the main aim of Yogasanas as propounded by Patanjali is to achieve progress in spirituality as against just physical exercise. The presenters concluded stressing that the general outlook towards Yoga needs to be changed from just performing the asanas to gain perfection in asanas to gain perfection of soul!
The correspondence principle
For example, one of the talks scheduled for January 4 at the ISC, titled ‘Neuroscience of Yoga’, seems interesting for the insights it could provide on the discipline’s physiological effects. It speaks to a concept in physics called the correspondence principle: that a new theory should be able to account for the effects of an old theory it replaced at least in the domain where the old theory worked. For example, Newtonian mechanics was able to explain the orbits of planets around stars but not the formation of black holes. In the 1900s, it was replaced by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which was able to explain both the orbits of planets as well as the formation of black holes.
Yoga has attracted much attention in recent times driven by interest in health benefits associated with practice of Yoga. While ‘Outcome Research’ has shown clinical benefit in various lifestyle disorders, the ‘process research’ has not kept pace and there is dearth of information on underlying physiological mechanisms and whether there is any specificity to changes associated with different yoga processes.
Our work spanning a decade focuses on the ‘process research’ that includes inquiry at three levels viz. the Autonomic Nervous System (mind-body link), brain mechanisms, and biomechanics. Sophisticated signal analysis technology was specially developed for this purpose (that includes ambulatory polygraph device and signal analysis software). Several studies were carried out with trained yoga practitioners during practice of various yogasanas, pranayam, and dhyan-dharna protocols and multiple parameters of interest viz. ECG (Electrocardiogram sampled at 1 KHz. for assessing HRV), Respiration: bilateral nasal breathing, Core Body Temperature, Pulse & SPo2 (oxygen saturation), EEG (Electroencephalogram – brain electrical activity), and EMG (Electromyogram – muscle electrical activity) etc. were recorded. Methodological sophistication helped unravel several physiological changes, including some paradoxes observed for the first time, are unique to practice of yoga.