RE: [rishiculture] Yoga Research what are we doing?
To Dr. Ananda, and others in this group,
As a student of Swami Gitananda’s in 1971 and 72 now with 34 years of experience in the practice of the Science of Yoga I have to say that Yoga is or can be more scientific than Western medicine. The experimental approach can be applied to our own practice, with observations constantly done in the methods of swadhiyaya, and conclusions drawn over time.
Swamiji once stated to us that there was no such thing as an “incurable” disease. When I said that to some of my students in the mid-seventies, I was respectfully challenged by one of them by way of a plea for help. She had been diagnosed with advanced breast cancer which had spread into the lymphatic system, and was scheduled for surgery in three days.
I set up an experiment for her, one in which I led her through a very intense yoga sadhana for a two week period. (The surgery was declined.) This was then followed up with daily practice as maintenance. After one month Western science was used as a check up, with the student going for a full examination by different doctors. Results showed no cancer to be found.
This was my first experiment, but as we know in science it takes more than one result to come up with a valid conclusion. I have since repeated the experiment several times with various terminal cancer patients. In six cases out of six the cancer went into remission. This does constitute validity to the Western scientific mind. It is ironic and somewhat pitiful that in all cases the medical records were either denied, destroyed or mysteriously deleted from the hospital computers. Life in the West can be such a paradox.
I thought at the onset that the medical community would take note and perhaps instigate some research, but no one was even curious about how the “remissions” had been brought on. I was reminded many times of Swamiji’s criticisms about the financial motives of the medical hierarchy. Cancer research is a multi billion dollar industry, and a simple cure would destroy it.
I rarely do these experiments anymore, preferring now to teach young people about the miraculous preventative powers that yoga develops in its practitioners. Of course there is no proof to be had that any of these young people would ever have had cancer. No proof and no profit here.
Outside of the medical establishment there is wonderful research being done, such as by Dr. Candace Pert who has proven that there is a very strong link between our thoughts and our health through the body and brain chemistry of the neuro-peptides. Her research has shown that the old yogic axiom “mind over matter” is a reality. Praise be to the scientists, within the yoga world or not, who search to discover the truth, profit or not.
Chakra Yoga Center, Canada
Pyramid Yoga Center, Thailand
From: Yogacharya Dr.Ananda Bhavanani [mailto:yognat2001@...]
Sent: Friday, October 01, 2004 1:47 AM
Subject: [rishiculture] Yoga Research what are we doing?
Yoga Research –what are we doing?
This is a very vital question that has been asked by one of our students (TJ) who has been disillusioned with his medical studies
I give below his mail as well as responses from Dr R Nagarathna (Dean, Division of Yoga and Life Sciences, SVYASA, Bangalore and Chief Medical Officer, SVYASA), Dr MV Bhole, (retired director of research at Kaivalyadhama, one of India’s oldest Yoga institutions at Lonavla, Maharastra), Dr Kaviraja Udupa, Senior Resident Physiology, JIPMER, Pondicherry and myself. I also add on a mail from Prof R Narasimhan the retired Director Professor and Head, Dept of Pathology at JIPMER who is presently with the Ramachandra Medical Institute at Chennai.
I welcome all of you to take part in this discussion and would be interested to hear from the medical doctors and yoga scientists on this group as well as other sadhaks on this path
I have been blessed to be part of an academic establishment that keeps its doors open to its students. It's funny, I made the decision to "leave" medicine (or this version of it) some time ago, but actually overcome the inertia of my present 3 or so weeks ago. For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been getting everything in order to complete my second year of medical school and take my leave.
Now that I’ve closed these doors (in a way that I can re-open them when and should I chose to), I am at my greatest period of uncertainty as to which option to pursue. My fear is that by taking leave to discover my most realized path (simplifying my goals and intentions) I am creating a greater uncertainty as I try to assess what (or which) that path is.
How do you view your role as a researcher?
Do you feel like you are trying to "prove" phenomena that are already known to be "true"; do you feel like you're reducing yoga to fit current paradigms?
Please do not see these questions as an attack on your research. As someone who's felt both the synergy and conflict between so-called eastern and western medicine, as someone who sees the advantages and disadvantages to "good" scientific research methods - randomization, blinding, setting controls for creating specific targeted therapies, I am just always left with the feeling that scientific research forces yoga to be too small in order to fit into its own conception of what knowledge is, its own scope that seeks greater reduction, not greater harmony or totality. How do you see "good, useable" data? I am so curious on this subject.
I do believe that I can walk the path of a scientific healer and a yogi simultaneously. Again, it’s this question of how.
From Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, Chairman ICYER, Pondicherry
It was interesting to read your mail and I am putting your question on the groups for answers from the other Yoga scientists that are out there in the cyber space with us
I am happy that you count your blessings for such an attitude (not so common in this day and age) will help you throughout your whole life
Crossroads are always a place to be careful and there will be undoubtedly lots of uncertainly.
It is however important to keep moving and not stay at the cross road forever!
To think is good but to act is better!
Yoga research is still in its infancy and has to face a lot of problems
It is true that modern science tries to make yoga smaller in order to make it fit the demands of science. Most scientists are looking for one asana to cure one disease just as there is a pill for every ill!
We still don’t have the facilities to research the higher aspects of yoga and most research has been on the Asana, Pranayama and to some extent on the meditative and so called meditation techniques such as TM
I believe that we have to first start within the system and follow its rules and guidelines- one must learn to play by the rules of the game. Once we have mastered the game then we can go beyond the rules and make our own ones!
Later on, I feel we can expand the process to include other aspects of yoga
Yoga views man as a multilayered being while science looks upon him as a single layered entity
We have to start someplace and the present is the place to start
It is important to determine the physiological and psychological benefits of various yogic practices on their own as well as in combination in order to come upon a wholistic view in later years
Indian researchers are limited by finance, time and facilities and so most of the research in India (and there has been a lot) has been in the very basic aspects of yoga
CCRYN does a great job in funding yoga research but is still much disorganized as seen in most governmental bodies. They need to take more initiative in coordinating the research in different centers rather than just handing out money to different people.
Yoga is a method of going inwards, within this and us is very difficult if not impossible to study using the tools of traditional scientific research
The necessity of the hour is to legitimize yoga practices in the eyes of the scientific community who tend to dismiss the benefits otherwise is a disdainful manner
It is also important that more scientific minded persons take up yoga and more yogis go into the study of science so that we can build a bridge between these two great aspects of our civilization.
Swamiji always stimulated his students to take up a study of science in order to present the yogic teachings in a modern scientific manner and not as some mumbo jumbo techniques. I find many yoga teachers treating patients of various diseases about which they themselves have not a clue! I feel that is simple quackery and a crime against humanity.
I feel that Swamiji’s vision of Scientific Yoga is the goal towards which we must work with renewed vigor and determination.
I hope that more of the yoga scientists out there in the group will respond with their views on this topic that is also very close to my heart
Yours in Yoga,
From Dr R Nagarathna, Dean, Division of Yoga and Life Sciences, SVYASA, Bangalore and Chief Medical Officer, SVYASA
Dear Dr. Ananda,
Thanks for this fundamental query.
I believe the same way as you say. One VC of Bangalore University once said that we are trying to validate the 5000 years old science by a 500 years old modern science. Well we need to do research in this framework to win the confidence of the world at large so that they can listen to what you want to say.
It is fascinating to know how the modern science has been able to unravel the mysteries of the universe by such strict way of probing and not accepting anything without subjecting to very rigorous scrutiny. Otherwise we would still have been in the age of spirits, leeches, and the so-called Kakataliya nyaya would have flourished. But as we have come this far we have to go further ahead by dropping out the excess of this rigor and go to something, which is beyond science and logic. Here was the advantage of the oriental seers who had best of both and also could see what should be the direction in which research should go to see a healthy and happy society. They also seems to have known where they should not do too much of probing and move on to go beyond logic.
Our aim should be to go the way that the modern science has gone, gain their acceptance and then blow our trumpet about all that we are talking about
1validity and reproducibility of internal experiences to be accepted
2.not only look for objective gadget oriented evidence,
3.the so-called placebo effect now being considered discardable effect to be researched into etc.
As you can see we in our center have at least been able to retain some part of the holistic approach of yoga by calling it IAYT right from day one instead of doing the same mistake that ayurveda physicians did when they started going into extract active ingredients and doing animal experiments. Now that this tract has been tried by this Indian scientists it becomes difficult and almost impossible to change the trend amongst researchers to go back to the holistic concept of ayurveda.
Dr. Ananda we all have a bigger duty to do apart from only validating the ancient techniques by the modern techniques of research.
We should go into many many researchers doing internal research and relive those states of consciousness. Scientists should experience those states and then start giving a holistic look for everything that is happening.
We should also be able to give a direction for the whole research that is going on in any field of science today. -- The slogan --'publish or perish' is becoming a wrong habit. Cutthroat competition amongst researchers is another malady, which is not the right thing to happen with Saraswathi.
Please join hands to first publish in the way the modern scientists want. Get 20 publications of yours in renowned journals of high regard in the field of science and then people will start listening to you.
I hope your student will peruse his medicine studies, go through the tough phase for 6 years, which is not a waste in one’s life span, and then start involving in this type of activities.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Dr MV Bhole, retired director of research at Kaivalyadhama, one of India ’s oldest Yoga institutions at Lonavla, Maharastra
There are only two sciences, which are working with human beings directly. One is Yoga and the other is Medicine. Other sciences do keep the human beings in their purview, but not in the centre. The three modalities: Jiva - Jagat and Iswara. One of these three remains in the center and other two remain in the periphery.
Medicine can work with the unconscious human beings and also the animals, but Yoga requires only the conscious human beings having the capacity and the ability to make Resolves (Samkalpa - Vikalpa and Nischaya) and to be able to execute them. Other kinds of human beings have to solely depend on "Guru Krupa".
Our ancient traditional knowledge is not easily and uniformly available to one and all. It follows "Guru - Shishya" or "Father - Child" Parampara and/or very closely guarded "Family Traditions". What you (Dr Ananda) got from Rev. Swami Gitananda Ji as his son and his disciple, I could not get. That is the fundamental difference in the eastern and western approach. Our traditions are still based on the "Principles of Business Management or strong Survival Needs". They are yet to become "Open Education Systems".
If one is not fortunate enough to have been born as a Brahmin having access to the living tradition and/or if you are not fortunate enough to have your training under the direct guidance of a "Guru" with "His Grace" (Gurukrupa) in Indian "Guru-Shishya Parampara"; then you have no other alternative than to follow the existing western approach.
If one has no knowledge of Sanskrit and does not know how to decipher complex sanskrit terms into simple Sanskrit, then one has to depend on the translations of old yoga literature in other language either Indian and/or western. The translators may not be "Realized" or "Emancipated Souls".
If one has been educated and brought up in western way of thinking and analysis, then how one can easily switch over to the Indian way of thinking and analyzing yoga texts, terms, techniques, states of consciousness etc.?
All people do not come to yoga in the olden classical motivation to know "Who am I?". They have other demands, which require different approaches to find suitable answers. Preset day Yoga Experts, many a times, are not willing to deviate from their path for reasons best known to them. In that situation, one has no other go than to resort to other types of approaches and explanations.
There is no attack on my research. I know what I have done and I am doing. In what direction I am traveling and I want to guide people coming to me. Everything begins and starts in a "Very Small" way. Slowlyitgrows. Every big work and/or task has to be divided into suitable pieces e.g. Ashtanga of Patanjali, Shadangas of Gheranda etc. Where is the Conflict?? I cannot understand.
In regard to your last question on how to walk the path of a scientific healer and a yogi simultaneously my answer is “Oh yes, you can surely do it. Go to Ananda Ashram where there is the living tradition of Rishi Culture blended with modern medicine without any conflict and/or contradiction.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------From Prof R Narasimhan the retired Director Professor and Head, Dept of Pathology at JIPMER who is presently with the Ramachandra Medical Institute at Chennai.
Dear Dr. Ananda,
I appreciate the concerns Of Dr. Nagarathna. I am so glad to see your well-balanced picture of the scenario today and you have practically addressed
every question raised. I fully endorse what you had quoted about Swamiji’s
views on this. Thank you for the mails, which I find interesting,
thought provoking and stimulating at times to find the
From Dr Kaviraja Udupa, Senior Resident Physiology, JIPMER, Pondicherry
The question raised by your student is absolutely correct. Even after 3-4 years of research in yoga under Dr. Madanmohan Ji & yourself, I feel we need lots of retrospection of our works based on these questions
Yoga, the cultural heritage of our country definitely has more stuff in it than to be proved its authenticity by using modern science. The major difference I find between modern medicine & yoga is the humanitarian approach in yoga. Modern medicine completely lacks it, it sees a person as a machine with different systems, organs, tissues...Human values, ethics, social support...are lacking not only in medicine but present day world which is resulting in stressful modern world, terrorism & whole lot of evils...this is a vicious cycle in turn resulting in all other pervading problems.
Then where is the solution? I feel it’s the combination of true modern scientific knowledge & yoga as way of life. All limbs of Ashtanga yoga should be given their due importance & should be implemented in all walks of life. Yoga teachers, researchers, different schools of yoga should work together & show the common man the yogic way of life than fighting against each other. In addition to giving yoga training to normal persons (to whom Yama & Niyama practice to be given properly), patient population should be taken care of (give them the specific Asanas & Pranayamas which are complement to allopathic treatment and provide them the psychological support to take care of psychosomatic involvement). I feel just talking to the patient for half an hour each will solve most of his/her problem rather than treating them as spoiled machinery.
I strongly feel your student should continue his studies, get proper knowledge of one system of medicine, which is highly advanced, in treating emergencies & also give fairly good amount of knowledge about human life. He can study more about yoga simultaneously, adopting its lifestyle himself now & propagate it for the betterment of whole mankind in days to come. I wish him all the best
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