Table of Contents  
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 50  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 31-33

Complementarities within applied and basic research: Evolving Yoga as Therapy

Department of Scientific Research, Kaivalyadhama, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication15-Nov-2018

Correspondence Address:
Ranjeet Singh Bhogal
Department of Scientific Research, Kaivalyadhama, Pune, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ym.ym_20_18

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How to cite this article:
Bhogal RS. Complementarities within applied and basic research: Evolving Yoga as Therapy. Yoga Mimamsa 2018;50:31-3

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Bhogal RS. Complementarities within applied and basic research: Evolving Yoga as Therapy. Yoga Mimamsa [serial online] 2018 [cited 2023 Feb 1];50:31-3. Available from:

Yoga is, indisputably, a significant tool for evolving human consciousness holistically. Authentic Yoga, as enjoined in ancient literature along with its proven scientific validation evident in recent times, is now being accepted as the only solution to almost all known existential maladies of the modern man, in general, and for psychosomatic disorders in particular.

Thanks to the worldwide Yoga Awareness, evident today, the humanity is now poised to welcome yoga as its own integral part, for achieving a lasting health, happiness, and harmony as well as for evidencing its further evolution. The historic lead was initially taken in 1924, by Swami Kuvalayananda, who had then declared, “Kaivalyadhama would first take up the psycho-physiological research that, in due course of time, would be followed by scientific research into the spiritual phenomena of yoga.” The transnational yogi scientist, as he was, Swamiji envisioned the paramount importance of fundamental research in yoga, without which one cannot conceive therapeutic implications of yoga convincingly. Rugna Seva Mandir (Patient Service Temple i.e. Yoga O.P.D.), established in 1924 itself, alongside the first ever yoga laboratory of the world, speaks volume of Swami ji's vision to amalgamate fundamental and applied aspects of yoga for the welfare of the entire humanity.

Fundamental research into the correctness and authenticity of yoga techniques and their effects, as claimed for in scriptures, would alone enlighten us about the Scope of Yoga as Therapy for healing, health, and wellness. Evidences from basic and applied research data, obtained through yogic interventions of yoga, culled out of yogic scriptures and living traditions, would help Evolution of Yoga as Therapy, on objective lines. Need of the hour, therefore, is to work, simultaneously, on both basic (fundamental) and applied research endeavors pertaining to yoga techniques and their effects in an earnest fervor.

With its psycho-physiological, psycho-neuro-immuno-endocrinal, and transcendental implications, obtained through researches in yoga, the healing power of yoga has never been in any iota of doubt, whatsoever. The very roots of therapeutic yoga are available in Hathayogic texts such as Hathapradipika and Gheranda Samhita. Therefore, it is warranted that a complete potential of Yoga as Therapy be uncovered, with every possibility of its recognition as an independent therapeutic intervention by mainstream health bodies and governments. Because of its sound psycho-physiological bases, as well as, transcendental implications such as inward meaningfulness, Absolute Joy, self-less quest for common good and fulfillment within, yoga stands out among many a similar therapeutic intervention.

  Objectives Behind Perceiving the Complementarities Top

  1. To help arrive at a workable unanimity, in yoga experts, regarding the inherent purity of the nature, authenticity, and validity of instructions and effects in the area of Yoga as Therapy, in the light of basic principles of yoga, so that yoga can be fully tapped with all its inherent psycho-physiological effects as an effective therapeutic tool
  2. To encourage creative minds to guide us in developing instructions and treatment procedures with respect to Yoga as Therapy on prioritized disorders for the common man
  3. To discover and encourage all efforts in arriving at scientifically objective validation of therapeutic interventions of yoga
  4. To make scientific exploration with interdisciplinary approaches, particularly pertaining to alternative system of treatment procedures available to us, in achieving need-based outcomes, in priority areas such as noncommunicable diseases and psychiatric and stress-related disorders
  5. To help unleash the creative synergies of yoga experts, scientists, and medical men into discovering and arriving at and evolving scientifically sound, yet traditionally correct Yoga interventions, for their therapeutic use, in view of the specific needs of the desirous
  6. To help enhance the understanding of fundamentals of Yoga as Therapy, resulting from deliberations among the scientists and yoga experts of eminence, through seminars and conferences that in all probabilities would stimulate both fundamental and applied research into Yoga as Therapy and thus give an impetus to further evolving Authentic Yoga
  7. To take a step toward standardization and evolution of yoga techniques based on instructions and effects available in ancient literature and living traditions on the one hand and corroboration of the same with scientific methods on the other hand.

  Some of the Possible Complementarities Top

Objectives of Yoga Research, both basic and fundamental, should be based on Holistic System Enhancement and not merely Body System Efficiency. This will minimize intraindividual and interindividual variations often seen in therapeutic research in yoga. Holistic interventions, encompassing almost all constituents of yoga, may give holistic effects on the entire human being and not merely on certain limited aspects of human health, although individual constituents of yoga are also effective in giving holistic effects if their authentic mode/s of practice is resorted to. Until an acceptable unanimity, regarding the mode/s of practice of these practices, is arrived at we can do well in adopting the holistically integrated approach, as above, at this juncture with advantage.

Similarly, the norms for basic and therapeutic research outcomes should be guided by basic yogic tenets having inherent spiritual phenomenon and should not be based only on medical model that gives overemphasis on mind–body complex, often overlooking spiritual aspects. Although the WHO defines health by integrating spiritual phenomenon into it, it has not been able to arrive at workable spiritual constructs for research, so far. Of course, there have been some laudable attempts, in the qualitative research area, showing a promise into spiritual aspect of human life. Integration of the spiritual/transcendental aspects into health-related research may give a path-breaking dimension to the concept of holistic health. Dr. Indrasen (1960) has said, “….the self-existent and objectless joy, as the unitary self-satisfying emotion, would evidently be a most unifying force in personality. If the healer knew and wielded this secret and could activate the same in the patient, it would certainly mean for psychiatry the discovery of supreme therapeutic influence. The determination of the condition of its working would mean a crowning mastery.” It is a matter to ponder over that Kriya Yoga of Kaivalyadhama tradition, having some inputs of this joy (P.Y.S. II:2), has been found to be “a wonder antidote” for patients of endogenous depression through many a clinical observation.

An extensive research is needed in arriving at operational constructs for yoga research relating the phenomenon of spirituality/transcendence. It will go a long way in evolving yogic personality development strategies. This, possibly, would help cure personality disorders and would help emerge a true sharing and caring community bereft of malice and unhealthy rivalry, fraught among all strata of human society today.

In nontherapeutic research, with Phenomenal Model, the desired and expected outcomes of yoga research endeavors are observed to be based on phenomenal benefits such as psycho-physiological efficiency, well-being, and quality of life. These phenomenal constructs and concepts orient themselves to phenomenal needs of the individual and the social group, in question, and not to the timeless yoga-specific constructs, concepts, and effects. A yogi is much more than physically fit, mentally alert and emotionally stable human being. Unless basic yogic values such as equality, desirelessness, egolessness, absolute joy, inward security, inward freedom, virtuous conduct, and selfless service, which make a human individual a yogi, become part and parcel of human life, there seems to be no hope for an enduring world peace.

To devise criteria and prerequisites of evolving yogic personality is the area of future thrust of Yoga as Therapy for immense possibilities for research in transpersonal psychology. Yogic personality is truly a transnational personality which is not bound by ethnic, racial, regional, economic, political, and national interests. There would be then a great leap toward the much coveted perennial world peace. Such a research, therefore, must include tests constructed using the aforesaid yogic constructs and values. Needless to say, psycho-neuro-immuno-endocrinological researchers have found immense implications of these yogic tenets for individual mental peace, health, and well-being, through their research in mind–body medicine. A person, with his own peace within, only can think of the world peace around!

In nontherapeutic research, with competitive management model, the expected outcomes of yoga research follow the corporate philosophy aimed at profit making, managerial effectiveness, effective team building, social intelligence, emotional intelligence and so on. In such research, these testing constructs, apparently, have sufficient place for sympathetic management strategies. There seems no attempt to address the stress and stress disorders in this model, even though all such corporate programs include stress management strategies rather separately from their mainstream programs. In general, these strategies have not been helpful in managing stress and stress disorders, to a desirable extent, as the modern management philosophy has no place for an enduring stress management and life management, to an adequate extent. It is a good sign that of late, the corporate philosophy is slowly getting inclined toward humanitarian approach, as mentioned by the computer icon Dr. Vijay Bhatkar in his forceful speech in 2009. Yogic values such as samatvam and karmasu kaushalam would further enrich this approach and may help evolve an all-encompassing and holistic management philosophy for the modern man.

Vedic Physiology is considered one of the most important concepts in yoga. It deals with “vegetative substrate and energy dynamics” of the human organism rather conjointly. The modes and instructions of yoga practices – whether Asana, Pranayama, Omkar, or any other techniques – have been designed in such a way as to invoke experiential and transcendental phenomena during their practice, itself., for example, Omkar recitation has been recommended to be practiced with (i) low pitch and low tone that vibrates the heart gently, (ii) sound of the makaar being tapered off just like the big bell when struck, and (iii) The end part of Omkar being as tender as the inner capillary of the stem of lotus flower.

A discernible reader would easily perceive the intent revisit of all yoga techniques, to discover the experiential-cum transcendental modes of practice, as we found in case of Omkar recitation. It may enrich Yoga as Therapy significantly, so as to help evolve yogic personality, in the process.

In conclusion, Yoga as Therapy should become responsive to modern-time problems the humanity is facing today. Yoga philosophy and practice would help evolve Yoga as Therapy on the lines of Patanjali's Thought System, whereby not merely treating and curing the existential disorders should be aimed at but should also help evolve human being toward treating and curing all existential aberrations including value crises, avarice, inordinate greed, insecurities, unbridled ego projections, cultural intolerance, and ideological dogmatism, at individual and community levels. Thus only Yoga as Therapy may embrace the entire humanity in helping it achieve a lasting peace, harmony, and finally its elusive spiritual evolution!

The contributing authors, in this issue, tend to express amply a spirit of complementarities between basic and applied research, amply indicative in their articles:

In a quasi-experimental study, “Physiological and psychological responses to different yoga styles” by Dr. Jonathan Cagas, a highly significant change in intensity of physiological variables, namely heart rate, calorie expenditure per minute, and time spent in Zone 2 (moderate intensity), was observed in students practicing dynamic yoga type as compared to those practicing Hatha Yoga and Gentle Yoga types. However, psychological variables changed significantly in case of Gentle Yoga type as compared to the rest of the interventional types. The study clearly supports the traditional mode of yoga practice, wherein gentle and experiential phenomena are inherent features. The author deserves appreciation for their timely research contribution, at the time when authentic modes of practice of yoga are being given due importance at the backdrop of many a strenuous and exercise-oriented yoga practice, “marketed” as authentic practice.

“Immediate effect of Sukha Pranayama, a slow and deep breathing technique, on maternal and fetal cardiovascular parameters,” an experimental study by Dr. R. V. Vasudevan et al. reveals significantly favorable changes in MHR, FTR, and RPP, reiterating the importance of the Sukha Pranayama for the maternal and fetal cardiovascular health as an add-on relaxation technique. The authors' future plan to undertake more rigorous studies in this area is indeed praiseworthy!

In their article, “Yoga for enhancing Emotional Intelligence: A review,” Ms. Archana Kumari and Dr. Kamata Prasad Sahu conclude, even though there are very few studies which have evaluated the effect of yoga or meditation of emotional intelligence, many of these studies have evaluated the effect of yoga and meditation with different dimensions of emotional intelligence such as academic performance, emotional well-being, and emotional sensitivity. However, studies investigating the effect of yoga on emotional intelligence of college students are meager. Authors deserve an appreciation for pointing out the area of investigation having a great relevance of yoga for higher education of the young.

The article, “Effect of yoga therapy on symptoms of sensory processing disorder in autistic individuals,” by Ms. Kankan Gulati et al., does not show a significant change in any of the objective variables viz. weight, body mass index, communication, sociability, sensory, health and SAC scores, with reference to their baselines. However, the parents and yoga instructors have reported a decline in aggressive behavior, increase in calmness and an improved behavior patterns, as well as, a better response to verbal instructions, on the part of the participants, as an effect of the two weeks yoga therapy program. The study, though a single-group design without controls, seems to extend a great hope for long-term future studies with objective parameters, in view of the encouraging qualitative changes, evident by virtue of the yogic intervention.

Dr. P Sridhar Reddy, in his article, “Spiritual health in Ayurveda: A review through Charak Samhita” observes that Charaka Samhita's Sharira Sthana is one of the unique sources where all the aspects of health, i.e., physical, mental, and spiritual health, have been explained with greater emphasis on spiritual health. The author's assertion is evident from the significant concepts such as Chetana dhatu, Purusha Jeevatman and Paramatman Yoga and Moksha explained so succinctly in the article, in the light of Kathopanishad, Kenopanishad and Shvetashvatar Upanishad. The article contributes, commendably, to the evolution of the concept of spiritual health, envisaged in the WHO definition of health. The article shows a promise for evolving an effective Yoga as Therapy, as it emphasizes spiritual inputs in a therapeutic process.

In his thoughtful review article, “Relevance of pineal gland: science versus religion,” Dr. Pratap Sanchetee and Suresh C. Sanchetee advocates for serious studies into human anatomy from religious texts. He observes, although the purpose and functions of pineal gland are still largely a mystery to science, recent research is yielding very interesting discoveries, especially pertaining to its connection to spirituality and higher states of consciousness. Descriptions of the human anatomy, derived from religious texts, are often omitted from the medical literature. Over time, in all probabilities, the science may validate many of the spiritual truths and statements as they may find scientific and medical corroboration. Apparently, the assertions in the article may sound merely a speculation, yet author's sound exposition of the subject matter in the article prompts us to conclude that any headway into basic research in the field would enrich Yoga as Therapy, breaking new grounds in the usage of its spiritual phenomenon.


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