Saturday, October 2, 2010

Saturday evening

Throughout the day I talked with people who are absolutely thrilled about this symposium. Researchers are definitely a unique group and they have been amazed that there are so many yoga therapists and yoga teachers interested in research.

John Kepner, IAYT Director, opened by giving awards and thanks.

Among them: Visionary Award for envisioning and manifesting this symposium to Sat Bir Khalsa. Recognition to Richard Miller as founder of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy 20 years ago! Now that's visionary!

Shirley Telles presented the evening keynote: Effects of Yoga Practice: Evidence from the Ancient Texts and Present-Day Research

Dr. Telles opened with a quote from the Katha Upanisad. The sages were the greatest Yoga researchers, she maintains, but that both modern and ancient research is needed because we need to recognize both experience and experiements.
Her premise is that times have changed, so probably have our bodies, the air we breathe, the food we eat. Research on yoga may be necessary even though we have the ancient text upon which to draw.

Entertaining speaker, showed slides of laboratories at Patanjali Yoga Peeth outside Haridwar where she is the chief researcher. Her lab contains state of the art resonance imaging equipment, as would be expected of the world's most prolific yoga researchers.

Alternate ostril breathing was observed by the ancients who said left nostril would be appropriate for peaceful activities and activities that required more energy would be best achieved through right nostril breathig. From the Swara Yoga text: Use left nostril for Collecting grain; Use right nostril for Controlling an Elephant!! Telles' research has validated the r and left nostril part of these claims.

Right nostril: greater oxygen consumption; higher blood pressure; blood flow to the skin greater; grip strength greater; spatial memmemory greater.

Left nostril, quiet activities: Lower blood pressure, imperceptible sweating, spatial & verbal meory, grip strength decreased.

Telles has gone on to study dharana and dhyana from P.Y.S. She has charts and slides and images that will be posted to show changes during ddharana and dhyana. (there are probably only about 10 people in the room who understand completely this research). In summary, however, meditation appears to be a unique state characterized by: EFFORTLESS ATTENTION!!

Telles has also developed yoga modules for airline pilots, school children, software professionals, and other and maintains if she know which aspects need to be addressed, she and her team will develop appropriate yoga practices. She has published studies showing all of these modules.

Telles then covered methodological issue in Yoga and rehabilitation research. This is a special interest to her because of studies she did after the Indian Ocean 2004 tsunami and the Bihar floods. She discussed ethical issues with a captive population, difficulty soe special groups ave in comprehending subtle aspects of yoga, and the problem getting special populations to and from research sites. The most interesting part of this section was around the tsunami and the Bihar floods where she provided a visual description of the people affected and how they were helped by yoga.

Telles is also iterested in prevention of two pre-morbid conditions: obesity and neuroticism. Obesity in India, she says, is more likely to occur in those who are middle class with adequate educational levels (unlike in the U.S. where obesity is more likely to occur among the poor and less educated). Here research looked for changes in BMI< chamical which act on the hypothalamus giving signals to feed/stop feeding, and unusual complications using yoga as an intervention. Interesting results. Leptin levels changed, but obese persons and diabetics have high leptin levels. After One week in yoga camp they also had lower levels. This will be explored further because one week is only an indicator that something is happening.

What about neuroticism? After six days of a yoga program, voila1 Not so neurotic! But...says Telles, it was not so much the activity of the yoga (although that worked too) but the theory and philosophy of yoga that made a bigger difference.

The importance of theory...from the Gita 5/23: "He who is able to stand the rush (speed) of lust & anger in this very life, is accomplished and alone is a happy perso."

Researchers are yogis too!On one of the islandShe discussedethical issues in Yoga a


  1. Julie, thank you so much for helping me and others who were unable to attend stay in touch with this wonderful conference. I hope the research papers will be collected and published somewhere, and meanwhile made available on IAYT's website!

  2. Thanks so much for the blog. I would love to be there. I've been to 2 of the 3 SYTAR conferences, and the HI is my home away from home. I am in England right now though, and grateful to hear the news through you. Enjoy the tea room and dinner. Have you discovered the bread?!

  3. wow, julie!
    i've learned so much from your posts. i'll finally be able to tell my weekly chair yogis something concrete and researched about the alternate nostril breathing they're all hooked on.
    i love the excitement you're transmitting and can say that your blog goes a long way toward reducing the isolation we sometimes feel out here on our own, trying to bring yoga's power into healthcare.
    oms ...