Part - II
YOGA IN HEALTH AND DISEASE
Nagarathna R, Nagendra H R, Telles S
Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation, Bangalore, India
YOGA IN REHABILITATION
Yoga practices have been tried in the rehabilitation of various socially disadvantaged groups like inmates of jails, drug abusers, alcoholics, congenitally blind, mentally retarded and children from community (remand) homes. In all these socially disadvantaged groups, either due to repressed anger or depression or anxiety, a heightened state of mental arousal could be a common underlying factor, that can interfere with their efficiency in any new learning for better living or for improved performance.
Yoga for Blind
Naveen et, al (1996)24 on repeated recording of middle latency auditory evoked potentials (AEPMLR) demonstrated that the information processing in the auditory pathways was much better in the congenitally blind than normally sighted children showing better sensitivity in hearing enabling them to use echoes to perceive spatial position. Greater anxiety and higher heart rates were noted in the congenitally blind compared to matched normal children.25,26
Yoga for Psychosis and Chemical Abuse
There are several reports of the use of TM in the rehabilitaion of drug abusers and alcoholics (Shafi, 1974; Brautigam, 1972; Benson et al. 1972). We observed the beneficial effect of IAYT in the rehabilitation of schizophrenics (Telles, 1997) in a long stay home.
Yoga for Immune System
Psychological stress is thought to undermine host resistance to infection through neuro-endocrine mediator changes in immune competence. 236 pre-school children in the age group of 3 to 5 years, were studied by Boyce.30 They compared the effect of laboratory stress of performing developmentally challenging task with two measures of environmental stress at the child care center and assessed the cardiovascular reactivity, incidence of respiratory illnesses, CD4, CD8 & CD19 cell counts, lymphocyte mitogenesis and antibody response to pneumococcal vaccine. They showed that the incidence of illness was related to an interaction of child care stress and mean arterial pressure reactivity (measure of psychobiologic reactivity to stress). They also observed an interaction between stressful life events and CD19 reactivity during stress and entering school. Klemons (1972) in their controlled clinical study assessed the degree of gingival inflammation (GI) in 46 TM meditators compared with 26 non meditators. Improvement of GI was noted in 74% of the meditators Vs 15% in non meditators. Practice of IAYT by patients with open tuberculosis in a sanitorium through controlled studies showed faster recovery in their general health, X-ray changes and sputum positivity.
Allergies, autoimmunity and cancer are other immune system disorders where the role of yoga has been experimented upon.
YOGA FOR POSITIVE MENTAL HEALTH
A positive mental health would be achieved by sharpening of perception of information arriving to the brain through all our special senses, better analytical faculty (IQ), sharper memory and on the overall improvement in personality characteristics. Emotions being the major component of human behaviour, mastery over the upsurges of emotion is considered as the sign of better health rather than just a sharpening of emotions. The capacity to replace instinctual violent emotions like anger or fear by soft emotions like love, sympathy, peace and contentment indicates higher levels of emotional health.
YOGA FOR PERCEPTION
Meditation has been described as a training in awareness, which when kept over long periods produces definite changes in perception, attention and cognition (Brown, 1977). Significant changes were reported in the visual perception of advanced meditators, who were able to distinguish subtle differences in color and shade. It has also been shown that processing of sensory information at the thalamic level is facilitated during the practice of pranayama (Telles et al. 1992) and meditation (Telles & Desiraju, 1993). These two practices, along with IAYT were found to bring about an improvement in hand steadiness in college students following 10 days of practice (Telles et al. 1993). This improvement was believed to be due to improved eye-hand co-ordination, better attention, concentration and relaxation
We (Telles et al 1995) tested the visual discrimination in two groups of 18 college students (age 17-22 yrs) each, by their ability to detect intermittent light of fixed luminance at varying frequencies on a Critical Flicker Fusion apparatus. We observed that the improvement in Critical Flicker Fusion in yoga group occurred after 20 days of yoga instead of 10 days unlike in children where the changes were demonstrable within 10 days38.