Chairman ICYER at Ananda Ashram, Pondicherry.

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In recent times, the therapeutic potential of Yoga has captured the imagination of researchersworldwide and numerous studies are being done on the benefits of Yoga in various medicalconditions. Yoga is a popular means of relieving stress and improving fitness as it decreases stress and anxiety and improves health status. The application of Yoga as a therapy is simple and inexpensive and can be easily adopted in most patients without any complications.

Dr Ananda BalayogiBhavanani, Deputy Director CYTER at MGMCRI, Pondicherry emphasized that Yoga therapy or more correctly Yoga Chikitsa, encompasses the use of asana, pranayama and relaxation techniques along with dietary advice and Yogic counselling that address the root cause of the problem rather than merely providing symptomatic relief. He shared some of his experiences in Yoga therapy at ACYTER, JIPMER where more than 30,000 patients benefited from Yoga since 2008 and at the Centre for Yoga Therapy, Education and Research (CYTER) in MGMCRI of Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth where more 8000 patients have benefited from Yoga since 2010.

Eight week Yoga therapy programme in hypertensive patients showed statistically significant decrease in weight, BMI and all resting cardiovascular indices. Cholesterol levels  and  cholesterol based ratios showed healthy changes. Majority were satisfied with their wellbeing after the programme and it was concluded that a comprehensive Yoga therapy programme has potential to enhance the beneficial effects of standard medical management of essential hypertension and can be used as an effective complementary or integrative therapy programme.

Hypertensive patients also showed reduction in heart rate and blood pressure after pranava, sukha and chandranadi pranayamas, thus providing a simple and cost effective technique can be used in the management of hypertensive patients in addition to the regular medical management.

Heart failure patients showed an increase in cardiac parasympathetic activity with decrease in cardiac sympathetic activity after Shavasana that can be used as an add-on therapy for maintenance of sympathovagal balance in heart failure patients.

Pranava pranayam (chanting AUM) in the supine posture produces an integrated relaxation response, that is clinically valuable in patients with hypertension and diabetes mellitus.

12 week Yoga therapy as a lifestyle intervention in patients of type 2 diabetes mellitus with distal symmetric polyneuropathy sowed significant improvements with respect to DNS score, DNE score and visual analogue score for pain in Yoga group. Vibration perception at great toe and ankle reflex also improvedsignificantly.There were 2 instances in Yoga group where H-reflex appeared after follow-up period despite absent recordings at baseline. Thus Yoga therapy showed an additive effect to standard medical care by providing more benefits with respect to electrodiagnostic studies. The results of our work provides preliminary evidence that Yoga when combined with standard medical care provides additional benefits in terms of improving clinical outcome, glycaemic control, resting cardiovascular parameters, cardiovagal modulation of heart and peripheral neurophysiologic derangements. These results may provide directions for further in-depth research evaluating efficacy of Yoga as a complementary therapy for diabetic neuropathy.

An evaluation was done of the effect of yoga therapy on reaction time, biochemical parameters and wellness score of peri and post-menopausal diabetic patients. Yoga therapy shortened reaction time and decreased fasting and postprandial blood glucose levels as well as reduced cholesterol. Shortening of RT implies an improvement in the information processing and reflexes and was the first such report in diabetic patients. Changes in blood glucose levels was attributed to improved insulin sensitivity, decline in insulin resistance and increased sensitivity of the pancreatic b cells to glucose signals. Yoga improved the ‘heart friendly’ status of lipid profile and as the participants wereperi and post-menopausal, the decrease in cardiovascular risk profile was of greater significance. A comprehensive yoga therapy programme has the potential to enhance the beneficial effects of standard medical management of diabetes mellitus and can be used as an effective complementary or integrative therapy programme.

Quality of life improvements, reduced depression scores, enhanced lung function and cardiovascular relaxation was found in senior citizens of a hospice in Pondicherry. There was also enhanced central neuronal processing resulting in quicker reaction time in children of a special school.

Many patients of COPD have benefited from the Yoga therapy that has enhanced their lung function such as FEV1 and PEFR. Many are able to reduce their drug dosage and report an enhanced sense of wellbeing. This may be due to the pranayama that improve capacity to exhale against resistance along with a nonspecific bronchoprotective or bronchorelaxing effect.


A 36 year old female with elevated TSH level and low normal T4 levels was diagnosed as having primary subclinical hypothyroidism and advised to start replacement therapy 4 years ago. She came for consultation to our Yoga OPD and was given appropriate Yogic counselling and taught a series of techniques potentially beneficial to patients of thyroid conditions. She continued the practices for a year and reported back at the end of the year with her biochemical investigations. After one year of therapy, there was a fall in TSH and a normalization of free T4 values. A third biochemical analysis three months later showed that TSH and FT4 further stabilized at normal levels. As the anti TPO antibodies were positive both before and after the Yoga intervention, the patient was advised to continue the Yoga practices on a regular basis as long as possible with regular six-monthly follow up.

A 21 year old male working as an executive in Chennai presented to his clinician with complaints of headache and giddiness. There were no other major symptoms though he was anxious about his condition. As his blood pressure was 160/100 he was advised to start antihypertensive medication. He took the medicines for a week and on a visit to Pondicherry the following week, came for consultation at the ACYTER Yoga OPD where his blood pressure was recorded as 130/90 mm Hg. He was given appropriate yogic counselling and dietary advice and taught a series of techniques that are potentially beneficial to patients of hypertension. This included jathis and asanas such as tala, hastakona, trikona, meru, vakra, bhujanga, uttanpada and pawanmukta. Pranayamas such as sukha, vyagraha, pranava, nasargamukhabhastrika, chandranadi and bhramari were also taught. Relaxation practices included shavasana with savitri pranayama and yoga nidra. He continued the practices for 10 days and his blood pressure were monitored daily. He continued doing these practises at ACYTER as well as at home. His BP averaged 128/86 forthe first three days and reduced to 122/84 by the 4th day. It normalised at 124/80 during the last few days. The patient expressed a sense of relaxation and felt a decrease in his anxiety levels.

A 55 year old male, with history of diabetes since 16 yr and hypertension since 7yr andon medication at JIPMER medicine OPD attended consultation in ACYTER YogaOPD. His blood pressure was BP 130/90 mm Hg and blood sugar levels were 140mg% (AC) and 173 mg% (PC). The patient was highly stressed out and quite fedup with life. He was given appropriate yogic counseling and dietary advice andtaught a series of techniques that are potentially beneficial to patients of bothdiabetes and hypertension. This included suryanamaskar, talasana, trikonasana,vakrasana, pawanmuktasana, viparitakarani, chandranadi pranayama, pranavapranayama and relaxation techniques. He has continued the practices regularly forthe past 2 years both at our centre as well as at home. He reports a feeling ofrejuvenation and energy and his outlook towards life changed dramatically. Hisblood pressure stabilized around 110/70 with 50% decrease in antihypertensivemedications. His blood sugar levels also stabilized at 120 mg% (AC) and 167mg% (PC) with no change in medications. This patient has felt the benefits of yogain changing his life for the better and has brought more than two dozen patients to the centre to experience the benefits of yoga that he feels have come in his life.

A 33 year old female, suffering from chronicobstructive airway disease (COAD) for the past five years came to the yoga OPD.She was on regular medication and had complaints of uncontrolled wheezingdespite using various inhalers. Her FEV1 was 57%. She was given appropriateyogic counselling and dietary advice and taught a series of techniques potentiallybeneficial to patients of COAD. She was taught breath body co-ordinationpractices and suryanamaskar as well as asanas such as ushtra, gomukha, vakra,bhujanga and matsya and the jala neti cleaning technique. She was also taughtsectional breathing and pranayamas such as vyaghrah, mukhabhastrika, suryanadiand nadishuddhi. Relaxation techniques used were kaya kriya and yoga nidra. Shecontinued the practices for 2 months at the centre and at home and reported thatshe was feeling a sense of ease and comfort that wasn’t there earlier. Thefrequency of her wheezing attacks had also reduced. Repeat PFT showed that herFEV1 had increased to 68%.

A 4 year old femalechild, with complaints of respiratory difficulties since birth was on regulartreatment for bronchial asthma with oral medication and inhaler. She came forconsultation to the Yoga OPD with complaints of wheezing,breathlessness and the mother expressed a desire to try out the yoga practices. Themother was given appropriate yogic counseling and dietary advice and then thechild was taught in a playful manner a series of techniques that are potentiallybeneficial to patients of bronchial asthma. She was taught breath body co-ordination practices and suryanamaskar as well as asanas such as ushtra, gomukha,vakra, bhujanga and matsya. She was also introduced to the jala neti nasal cleaningtechnique. She was then taught sectional breathing and pranayamas such asvyaghra, mukhabhastrika and suryanadi. She continued the practices for nearlyone year and her complaints reduced slowly. She continued doing these practices at the centre as well as home and the frequency and severity of her wheezing attacksreduced. After the practice of 4 months she was able to stop the oral medicationsand usage of inhaler was also lesser. The consulting pediatrician advised her tostop the inhaler too as she was able to be comfortable without it. There were noepisodes of wheezing reported till the end of the year even though she was nottaking any medicines.

Yoga as a therapy is also cost-effective, relatively simple to learn, and carries minimal risk; hence, yoga should be advocated as an adjunct, complementary therapy in our search for an integrated system of medicine capable of producing health and well-being for all.

Modern medical advancements provide the rationale for the integration of various traditional healing techniques including Yoga to promote healing, health, and longevity. It is imperative that advances in medicine include the holistic approach of Yoga to face the current challenges in health care. Under the dynamic leadership of Shri MK Rajagopalan, authorities of SBVU had set up CYTER in 2010 and many activities have been going on since then. A scientifically sound Yoga therapy programme is imparted through the Yoga Therapy OPD that is functioning daily from 9 am to 1pm. Consultations are offered by Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, Deputy Director and Mrs Meena Ramanathan, Coordinator and Yoga Therapist and qualified Yoga instructors are imparting the schedules. Individualized and group Yoga therapy sessions are being conducted for various medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, musculoskeletal and psychiatric disorders with excellent feedback from participants. More than 12000 patients have benefited from Yoga Therapy consultations and sessions since 2010. Numerous research studies have been completed under guidance of Dr. Madanmohan, Professor and Head, Department of Physiology and Director CYTER and 35 papers have been published.