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RECENT STUDIES ON YOGA AT JIPMER, PONDICHERRY

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  • Yogacharya Dr.Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani
    RECENT STUDIES ON YOGA AT JIPMER, PONDICHERRY A report by Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, Senior Research Fellow, Yoga Research Project, Department of
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 1, 2005
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      RECENT STUDIES ON YOGA AT JIPMER, PONDICHERRY
      A report by Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani,
      Senior Research Fellow, Yoga Research Project, Department of
      Physiology, JIPMER

      Jawaharlal Institute for Postgraduate Medical Education and Research
      (JIPMER), Pondicherry is a premier medical and research institution
      in India and many studies on the beneficial effects of Yoga have
      been conducted here in the past decades.
      In the year 2000, Central Council for Research in Yoga and
      Naturopathy, (CCRYN) Ministry of Health, New Delhi sanctioned a YOGA
      RESEARCH PROJECT with Dr Madanmohan (Director-Professor and Head,
      Dept of Physiology) as Principal Investigator and Dr Gopal Krushna
      Pal (Associate Professor, Physiology) as co-investigator. The author
      (Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani) is the Senior Research
      Fellow of the project while Shri G Kumaran and Miss Lalithambika are
      the Yoga teacher and technical assistant respectively.
      The Department of Science and technology (DSTE) under Pondicherry
      Government had also sanctioned a Yoga Project to Dr Madanmohan and
      Dr Gopal Krushna Pal. Some of these studies have been completed
      under that project with students of the Indra Nagar Government HSS.
      Many studies have been conducted in the Department of Physiology in
      the last three years and this article aims to give the readers a
      brief idea of the scope of these research works.
      Other members of the Physiology Department, JIPMER who have
      contributed to these studies are Dr P Vijayalakshmi (Associate
      Professor, Physiology), Dr Kaviraja Udupa (Senior Resident), Dr ES
      Prakash (Junior Resident) and Dr Asmita Patil (Senior Resident). Dr
      N Krishnamurthy (Scientific Officer-Cum-Tutor) and Dr Lakshmi
      Jatiya (Senior Resident) who have left the department recently were
      also actively involved in these projects. Mr Amudhan and Mr
      Surendiran (MBBS students) have also contributed to some of the
      studies through their ICMR (Indian Council for Medical Research)
      Student scholarships.
      Dr Kaviraja Udupa (Senior Resident) successfully presented his MD
      (Physiology) thesis on how Pranayama training of six months
      influenced cardiac function as measured by Systolic Time Intervals
      in school children.
      1. Effect of Suryanamaskar training on pulmonary function,
      respiratory pressures and handgrip in school children: Scientific
      literature is deficient on the effects of suryanamaskar on
      physiological functions. Suryanamaskar is an integral part of Yoga
      practice and consists of a sequence of movements synchronised with
      deep breathing. Although a number of studies have been reported on
      the beneficial effects of Yoga training, there is no report on the
      effect of suryanamaskar training on pulmonary function, respiratory
      pressures and handgrip. Hence, we planned to study the effect of
      suryanamaskar training on forced expiratory volume, forced expired
      volume in first second, peak expiratory flow rate, maximum
      expiratory pressure, maximum inspiratory pressure, handgrip strength
      and handgrip endurance. 42 school children in the age group of 12 to
      16 were randomly divided into two groups of 21 each. Group I was
      trained in suryanamaskar for 6 months while Group II formed the
      control group. In both the groups, the above mentioned parameters
      were studied before and after 6 months of the study period. In
      Group I subjects, peak expiratory flow rate, maximum expiratory
      pressure, maximum inspiratory pressure, Forced expiratory volume and
      forced expired volume in first second increased significantly
      following suryanamaskar training. Handgrip strength and hand grip
      endurance also increased significantly after the training. On the
      other hand, in the control group, there was no significant increase
      in these parameters. We suggest that Suryanamaskar be used as an
      effective and inexpensive method to improve pulmonary functions and
      general health of school children.
      2. Effect of Yoga training on pulmonary function, respiratory
      pressures and handgrip in school children: 20 school children in the
      age group of 12 to 15 years were given Yoga training (Asanas and
      Pranayamas) for 6 months. 20 age and gender-matched students formed
      the control group. Yoga training produced statistically significant
      increase in handgrip strength and handgrip endurance. Maximum
      expiratory pressure, maximum inspiratory pressure, forced expiratory
      volume, forced expired volume in first second, and peak expiratory
      flow rate also increased significantly after the Yoga training. In
      contrast, the increase in these parameters in the control group was
      statistically insignificant. Our study shows that Yoga training for
      6 months improves lung function, strength of inspiratory and
      expiratory muscles as well as skeletal muscle strength and
      endurance. It is suggested that Yoga be introduced at school level
      in order to improve physiological functions, overall health and
      performance of students.
      3. A comparative study of the effects of slow and fast
      Suryanamaskar: 42 school children in the age group of 12 to 16 were
      randomly divided into two groups of 21 each. Group I and Group II
      received 6 months training in performance of slow suryanamaskar
      (SSN) and fast suryanamaskar (FSN) respectively. SSN subjects were
      trained to perform surya-namaskar in a slow manner so that each of
      the 12 poses was held for duration of 30 seconds. Each round took 6
      minutes to complete and 5 rounds were performed in 30-40 minutes. On
      the other hand, FSN group subjects were trained to perform surya-
      namaskar in a fast manner so that the 12 poses were completed in 2
      minutes. 15 rounds were performed in 30-40 minutes. Training in SSN
      produced a significant decrease in diastolic pressure and an
      insignificant (3%) fall in rate-pressure-product, which is an index
      of load on the heart. In contrast, training in FSN produced a
      significant increase in systolic pressure and insignificant (4.5%)
      increase in rate-pressure-product. Although there was a highly
      significant increase in hand grip strength and hand grip endurance
      in both the groups, the increase in hand grip endurance in FSN group
      was significantly more than in SSN group. Training in SSN reduced
      the resting diastolic pressure and rate-pressure-product, which,
      indicates a decrease in load on the heart. In contrast, FSN
      increased diastolic pressure and rate-pressure-product. The present
      study shows that the effects of FSN are similar to physical aerobic
      exercises whereas the effects of SSN are similar to those of Yoga
      training.
      4. Acute effect of Mukh Bhastrika (bellows breath) on reaction
      time: 22 healthy schoolboys who were practising Yoga for the past
      three months and could perform Mukh Bhastrika properly, were
      recruited for the present study. Visual reaction time and auditory
      reaction time were recorded before and after nine rounds of mukh
      Bhastrika. Mukh Bhastrika produced an immediate and significant
      decrease in visual as well as auditory reaction time. A decrease in
      reaction time indicates an improved sensory-motor performance and
      enhanced processing ability of central nervous system. This may be
      due to i) greater arousal, ii) faster rate of information
      processing, iii) improved concentration and/or iv) an ability to
      ignore extraneous stimuli. This is of applied value in situations
      requiring faster reactivity such as sports, machine operation, race
      driving and specialised surgery. It may also be of value to train
      mentally retarded children and older sports persons who have
      prolonged reaction time.
      5. Effect of Pranayama training on cardiac function: Systolic
      time intervals are sensitive and objective measures of ventricular
      performance. Yogic breathing exercises especially bellows type of
      breathing are likely to produce hemodynamic alterations thereby
      affecting ventricular performance. Keeping this in mind we planned
      to study if training with Yoga breathing exercises has any effect on
      ventricular performance as measured by systolic time intervals. To
      the best of our knowledge no such study has been undertaken so far.
      24 school going children were divided into two groups. Group I
      subjects (Pranayama group, n=12) were given training in Savitri
      Pranayama, Pranava Pranayama, Nadi Shuddhi and mukh Bhastrika and
      practiced the same for 20 min daily for a duration of 3 months.
      Group II subjects (control group, n=12) were not given any
      training. In both the groups, systolic time intervals were measured
      10 minutes after supine rest at the beginning and end of the study
      period. Pranayama training resulted in increase in QS2I and PEPI,
      the increase being statistically significant. On the other hand,
      LVETI was reduced significantly. In contrast the changes in systolic
      time intervals in control subjects were not statistically
      significant. QS2I and PEPI are indicators of the effect of the
      parasympathetic nervous system on the heart while LVETI is an
      indicator of the sympathetic nervous system's effect on the heart.
      Our study shows that Pranayama breathing can alter the ventricular
      performance as measured by systolic time intervals. Further studies
      can illustrate the underlying mechanisms involved in this
      alteration.
      6. A comparative study of the effects of slow and fast
      Pranayamas on physiological functions: We planned to undertake a
      comparative study of the effect of short term (three week) training
      in Savitri (slow breathing) and Bhastrika (fast breathing)
      Pranayamas on respiratory pressures and endurance, reaction time,
      heart rate, blood pressure and rate-pressure-product. Thirty student
      volunteers were divided into two groups of fifteen each. Group I was
      given training in Savitri Pranayama, which involves slow, rhythmic
      and deep breathing. Group II was given training in Bhastrika
      Pranayama, which is bellows-type rapid and deep breathing.
      Parameters were recorded before and after three-week training
      period. Savitri Pranayama produced a significant increase in
      respiratory pressures and respiratory endurance whereas Bhastrika
      Pranayama produced an insignificant increase in respiratory
      pressures and a significant increase in respiratory endurance. In
      both the groups, there was an appreciable but statistically
      insignificant shortening of reaction time. Blood pressure, heart
      rate and rate-pressure-product decreased in Savitri Pranayama group
      but increased in Bhastrika Pranayama group indicating that Savitri
      Pranayama decreases sympathetic activity while Bhastrika Pranayama
      increases it. It is concluded that different types of Pranayamas
      produce different physiological responses in normal subjects.
      7. Effect of Shavasana on cold pressor-induced stress:
      Shavasana is known to enhance one's ability to combat stressful
      situations. This study was planned to determine if the performance
      of Shavasana after training of short duration could modulate
      physiological response to stress induced by cold pressor test and
      the possible mechanisms involved. Ten normal adults were taught
      Shavasana and practised the same for a total duration of seven days.
      RR interval variation (RRIV), deep breathing difference (DBD) as
      well as heart rate, systolic pressure, diastolic pressure and rate-
      pressure-product changes in response to cold pressor test were
      measured before and after performance of Shavasana. RR interval
      variation (RRIV), deep breathing difference (DBD) are known
      indicators of the activity of parasympathetic nervous system
      Shavasana produced a significant increase in DBD and an appreciable
      but statistically insignificant increase in RRIV suggesting an
      enhanced parasympathetic activity. Significant blunting of cold
      pressor-induced increase in heart rate, blood pressure and rate-
      pressure-product by Shavasana was seen during and even five minutes
      after cold pressor test suggesting that Shavasana reduces load on
      the heart by blunting the sympathetic response. It is concluded that
      Shavasana can enhance one's ability to withstand stress induced by
      cold pressor test and this ability can be achieved even with seven
      days of Shavasana training.
      8. Effect of Yogic relaxation training on hypertension:
      Thirteen male patients of essential hypertension whose age ranged
      from 41 to 60 years were trained in Yogic relaxation techniques
      daily, Monday through Saturday for a total duration of 4 weeks.
      Systolic pressure, diastolic pressure, mean pressure and heart rate
      were recorded with a non-invasive semi automatic blood pressure
      monitor before Yoga training and at weekly intervals during the 4-
      week training period. There was a significant reduction in diastolic
      pressure, mean pressure, heart rate and rate-pressure-product after
      2 weeks of Yoga training. Systolic pressure showed a significant
      reduction at 3 weeks. At 4 weeks of training there was a further
      fall in systolic pressure, diastolic pressure and mean pressure.
      Rate-pressure-product also showed a further significant decrease at
      3 and 4 weeks. Before Yoga training isometric handgrip produced a
      rise in all the parameters that was significant only in systolic
      pressure indicating subnormal cardiovascular autonomic reflex
      response. After Yoga training, isometric handgrip produced a highly
      significant rise in all parameters except pulse pressure. Thus our
      study shows that Yoga training restores the autonomic regulatory
      reflex mechanisms in hypertensive patients and Yoga relaxation
      training of 4 weeks is effective in producing a significant decrease
      in blood pressure of hypertensive patients.
      9. Effect of Shavasana on heart rate variability: The effect of
      Shavasana on heart rate and blood pressure is well known. However,
      its effect on heart rate variability (HRV) is not well known. Hence,
      we studied the effect of Shavasana training on HRV as measured by
      sympathovagal balance (SVB) and coefficient of variation of RR
      intervals (CVRRI). SVB helps to understand the balance between
      activity of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems on
      the heart, while the coefficient of variation of RR intervals
      (CVRRI) is a known indicator of parasympathetic activity. Twenty six
      school children (13 boys and 13 girls) aged 16 years were recruited
      for the study. Their blood pressure, heart rate and HRV were
      recorded in supine position under standard conditions. A 5-minute
      ECG was recorded and the RR interval series was subjected to fast
      Fourier transformation and an RR-interval power spectrum obtained.
      SVB was calculated as the ratio of low frequency (0.04 – 0.15 Hz)
      and high frequency spectral powers (0.15 – 0.40 Hz). The subjects
      were then given Shavasana training and practised the same under our
      direct supervision for a period of six weeks. Blood pressure, heart
      rate and HRV were recorded under similar conditions after the
      training period. Shavasana training produced a significant decrease
      in heart rate and systolic pressure, diastolic pressure, mean
      pressure and rate-pressure-product. There was also a significant
      increase in total power of the RR interval spectrum and CVRRI but
      no change in SVB. We conclude that the practice of Shavasana
      increases heart rate variability. This implies a "healthier' heart
      that will be able to withstand the stresses and strains of life
      better.
      10. Effect of direction of head on heart rate and blood
      pressure: Indian culture stresses the importance of direction during
      performance of daily activities. Some Yoga teachers prescribe that
      the Yogic relaxation and polarity practices must be done while lying
      with the head towards the North in order to align oneself with the
      earth's electromagnetic field. There is some evidence that earth's
      magnetic field influences physiological functions. Hence, the
      present study was undertaken to see whether head direction has any
      effect on heart rate and blood pressure during supine rest. 43
      normal healthy school children were recruited and their recordings
      were taken after 5 minutes of supine rest. The subjects were
      randomly assigned to lie with their head towards North, East, South
      and West directions on four different days. Heart rate and blood
      pressure were recorded at the end of 5 minutes of supine rest. Heart
      rate was lowest in North and highest in South, the difference being
      statistically significant by Student's paired `t' test. Systolic
      pressure was lowest in the North and significantly higher in the
      West. Lying supine with head towards North had the lowest rate-
      pressure-product as compared to the West. Our study demonstrates
      that lying supine with head in different directions has a definite
      effect on the heart rate and blood pressure. Further studies in
      different age groups and in hypertensive patients may help in
      understanding the mechanisms and implications of this phenomenon.

      These studies have been presented at the Annual Conferences of IABMS
      (Indian Association of Biomedical Scientists), Annual Conferences of
      APPI (Association of Physiologists and Pharmacologists of India),
      International Yoga Festival, Pondicherry and at the Kaivalyadhama
      Yoga Conference 2002. Some of the studies have also been published
      in Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology (IJPP) and Yoga
      Mimamsa (Yoga Journal of Kaivalyadhama).
      One of the positive spin offs of the Yoga Project has been the
      possibility of free Yoga training that has been imparted to a large
      number of persons. One of the aims of our project was to create an
      awareness and interest in Yoga amongst the general public and this
      aim is surely being realised under the guidance of Dr Madanmohan.
      More than 160 police trainees of Pondicherry Police are receiving
      yoga training. Nearly 140 personnel of Pondicherry Police department
      have completed two weeks of Yoga training in six batches. 60
      students of Kendriya Vidyalaya in the JIPMER campus and more than
      140 students of the Indra Nagar Govt HSS have received Yoga training
      for between 3 and 6 months. Nearly 100 patients suffering from
      various disorders have received Yoga therapy on referral basis from
      concerned departments and more than 100 staff and students of JIPMER
      have received training in various aspects of Yoga. 50 students of
      the Tagore Arts College have also received more than 6 months of
      Yoga training as part of the project.
      I hope that this short overview of the various studies has given the
      reader some idea of the numerous works going on in Department of
      Physiology, JIPMER and I welcome any queries on these studies at
      yognat2001@....
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