Therapeutic Work of the Yoga Institute Since 70 years
Even Though the primary concern of Yoga is not curing disease, Yoga Ashrams and travelling Yogis have at all times been trying to alleviate the suffering of people. This was also the case with the teacher of Shri Yogendraji Paramahamsa Madhavadasaji, who used to cure patients in his Ashram at Malsar. While Shri Yogendraji was with his Master at the Ashram from 1916 to 1918 he was involved with the therapeutic work also. The learning consisted in watching the example of the master, understanding it and applying what he had learned according to his own ability. There are numerous stories from this period onwards which show his intuitive skill and sympathetic selfless attitude. It was here that he laid the fundamentals to what he later developed and systematized as " rational Yoga therapy."As soon as the first Yoga Institute was opened at Versova in 1918, besides the students of the yoga classes people from the outside also came for treatment. Here Shri Yogendraji started his pioneering work where an attempt for a methodical approach to Yoga therapy was started by collecting clinical and laboratory data. Importance was given to exact diagnosis and to case reports. In each of the outdoor and indoor patients (who lived together with the Yogi) individual advice about lifestyle, diet and exercise was given. Thus in about six months of existence of the Versova Institute 124 patients (suffering from asthma, diabetes, heart troubles etc.) were treated with remarkable results.In 1920, Shri Yogendraji opened The Yoga Institute of America at Hariman, New York which included a 20 bed hospital. An experienced General Practitioner was appointed as medical officer-in-charge. Basis of the therapy was Yoga-education, hygiene, diet, exercise coupled with nature cure techniques. In this period the " Yogendra Rhythm: was developed, the conscious synchronization of the body movement with breathing rhythm. Classical Asanas were analyzed and selected in order to get the maximum benefit in the most simple way. (Refer "Yoga Asanas Simplified") From 1920 to 1923 patients were treated.In the years that followed after its return to India in 1923, The Yoga institute was located in different places and the activity was expanded to writing and editing books and journals. Therapy however, always remained an important part of the work. The American surgeon Dr. John W. Fox worked as scientific corroborator and encouraged scientific studies with the use of laboratory tests and detailed case reports.Science 1948 The Yoga Institute is established in its own building at Santacruz. Bombay. Right from the beginning therapeutic work has been continued to fulfil the request of the academic medical authorities for an evaluation of Yoga's therapeutic claims along proper scientific lines. In 1960 a pathological laboratory was set up and patients were examined by a medical practitioner who kept case records. Results were encouraging but still not satisfyingly 'scientific'! Another project was undertaken in 1970 - the Medical Research Unit on the behest of the Government. It consisted of a panel of 14 medical specialists who decided the research methodology. Patients were examined before, during and after treatment (all required tests like X-Rays, blood tests, Cardiograms were done). The study confirmed widely the effectiveness of the therapy and showed a high percentage of improvement. It became clear however, that the process of medical investigation by people alien to Yoga, could interfere negatively of delay the healing process (For further information see "Research Procedures for Therapeutic Claims of Yoga" Journal of The Yoga Institute 1970).In 1976 a long term follow up study was undertaken of about 150 patients who had suffered from psychiatric conditions (52), hypertension (20), diabetes (6), asthma (18), gastrointestinal disorders (18), orthopaedic disorder (18). They were contacted about 5-8 years after their treatment. Over 80% of them had maintained improved health condition or complete remission of their complaints. Most of them reported a change in their outlook and lifestyle. (For detailed information and interpretation see "Yoga and Therapy" 1977).Science in the last decade with the modern lifestyles, where hurry, competition and unnatural rhythm prevail, people seem to have become more sensitive to psychological and environmental stress. In 1981 a special class called Samattvam (equanimity) was developed. Here relaxation, Karma Yoga, and special 'mental hygiene' exercise are used together with general advice from the yogic point of view. Personal guidance and practical instructions are given to people who need guidance.At the present time the therapeutic procedure at the Institute involves attending Samattvam for a preliminary exposure and an assessment of their health condition by Dr. Jayadeva and if necessary by a medical practitioner. If it is decided that he comes for the special therapeutic classes, individual guidance is given in the asanas, diet, pranayamas, lifestyle and mental hygiene. Lectures and personal talks shows the yogic point of view. At present upto 400 men and women attend classes daily.Once a month a special residential camp is organized at the Institute for a deeper introduction to the principles of Yoga.Since May 1987, special seven days health camp for patients suffering from the same disease have been organized. Thus the camps so far have been for cardiac patients, asthmatics, diabetics, ear, nose, throat complaints and gastrointestinal problems. These camps are organized together with medical specialists where much individual guidance has been given for their specific ailments and process of group learning has proved to be very effective.The cardiac camp was conducted in May 1987 with 15 participants, age ranging from 50 to 75 years. Dr. S. R. Shah who has initially seen some good results in cardiac patients treated at The Yoga Institute as out patients , thought that if an intensive exposure to yoga was offered while living at the Institute more good might ensue. With that in mind, Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra, Smt. Hansa Jayadeva, Dr. Saroj Bhatt and the Institute's Sadhakas worked out a seven days residential camp. All the patients had Ischaemic heart disease and the report of the camp is given in the following pages.Dr. A. A. Mahashur, a respiratory specialist was enthusiastic about the idea of a residential camp for asthmatics and people with bronchitis. He arranged to have the lung function testing for the campers on the day of the medical scrutiny and at the end of one month period. His excellent talks to the campers during their stay at the Institute and his compassionate manner endeared him to the participants and made the 26 campers know about their disease in a realistic manner. As in all the camps the actual teaching was done by Dr. Jayadeva and Smt. Hansa Jayadeva. Shri Yogendraji and Smt. Sita Devi also helped in removing many of the misconceptions about the subject. The day to day needs of the participants were met by a homeopath, Dr. Taruna Akali and Sadhakas of the Institute. A report of the work done is also presented in a section of this book.The renowned diabetic specialist, Dr. V. S. Ajgaonkar helped to organize the diabetic camp. On the first day of the camp the fasting blood sugar of all the 15 campers was taken by Dr. Ajgaonkar himself demonstrating his humble ways and deep love of people. He had already built up an excellent rapport with the campers during the initial scrutiny which continued during the camp. The very good response that was noticed during the camp is reported elsewhere in this book.Thus The Yoga Institute which had pioneered the organized therapeutic Yogic work continues to grow and serve where the true spirit of Yoga is always preserved.