January 24th, 2008 03:32 EST
Sri Sri Ravishankar
January 22, 2008
by Joyeeta Dutta Ray
"Breathing is the first act of life. Within breathing is the secret of life," His Holiness Sri Sri Ravishankar (Founder of AOL)
About the Art of Living Foundation
AOL, the largest volunteer based NGO in the world, supported by international organizations such as the United Nations, offers unique courses that help eliminate stress and allow individuals to develop to their highest potential. Millions of people from over 140 countries and all walks of life, religions and cultures have benefited from its 5Hs program in the areas of Health, Home, Hygiene, Human Values and Harmony in Diversity. Over the years, a plethora of research has been conducted on the Sudarshan Kriya Yoga, a breathing technique that underlines the course. Stated below are some of the recent facts and findings.
Interesting facts about the Art of Living course:
?E AOL is part of the training for NASA astronauts.
?E It is included in the curriculum in eight German universities and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology among others.
?E It is part of the training for Miss India contestants.
?E It is included in the training for schoolteachers in Switzerland.
?E Sudarshan Kriya has been acknowledged by the World Health Organization, All India Institute of Medical Sciences etc.
Medical findings about the Sudarshan Kriya Yoga:
A world conference on science, consciousness and spirituality held in New Delhi noted the key findings of research conducted on the Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY). Below is a simplified synopsis:
1. Less depression, more elation
Dr Richard Brown from the USA has postulated that SKY contributes to a state of alert calmness through its effect on the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is crucial in social bonding, empathy and love; it is the centre of our gut instincts and is crucial to our ability to perceive, observe and make complex decisions. Impaired vagal activity is found in people with depression, anxiety, panic disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, violent adults, post traumatic stress disorder, early Alzheimer`s and obesity. 2. Sleep like a baby
`Stephen Porges suggested that the different rhythms of breath in SKY stimulates different fibers of the vagus nerve. This makes SKY unique and likely to have a much wider range of effects. Interestingly, brain wave rhythms during and after SKY are similar to those of babies.
3. Think Positive
Dr Fahri Saatcioglu from Oslo did a 6-week study on the effect of SKY on the relaxation response and feeling of wellness on 109 subjects. 56 of them went through the SKY course and performed SKY yoga daily for 6 weeks. The other 53 relaxed in an armchair for 15 minutes daily for the same period. 6 weeks later, a significant increase in the experience of wellness in the SKY group was noted as compared to the `armchair` group. There was a sharp decrease in anxiety, depression and stress and a marked increase in optimistic thinking in the SKY group.
4. Live longer
r Neeta Singh from New Delhi studied the effects of SKY on the genes that affect stress related pathways of the human body. She found an increase in vital antioxidant enzymes that are responsible for a longer life span and better protection against cancer.
5. Healthy heart, skin and blood pressure
Dr Stephen Larsen from the USA studied neurophysiological responses before, during and after SKY. The tests run were EEG (recorded at 19 cortical sites), EKG, heart rate variability, galvanic skin response, hand skin temperature, pulse plethysmography and blood pressure. He found that SKY practices produced significant changes in ALL physiological measures. It appears that over a period of time, the practitioner`s health becomes more robust, flexible and able to deal with the challenges of stress. This explains why regular practice of SKY is very important.
6. Easy menopause
Dr Geetha from Bangalore studied the effect of SKY on antioxidant enzyme activities in menopausal women. "There were 4 groups compared. 40 received hormone replacement therapy, 40 received 500mg of Vitamin E daily, 60 practiced SKY daily and 50 served as controls. Within just 30 days, SKY was seen to improve the antioxidant power of menopausal women and was proven superior to the beneficial effects seen with HRT or Vitamin E on anti oxidant levels. 7. Decreased work-related stress Dr Vedamurthachar from Bangalore studied the effect of the AOL Course on occupational stress and anxiety among 60 software engineers. At the end of a month, the 30 engineers who took the AOL course showed a sharp reduction in anxiety and improvement in stress coping skills as compared with the 30 controls. 8. SKY and vegetarian meals for good healthE G Lyulyakina from Russia studied the oral micro flora of SKY practitioners. She found that the number of microorganisms in lacto vegetarians were 2-3 times less than that in `non strict` vegetarians. She concluded that practice of SKY and a vegetarian diet reduces the microbial content of the mouth. 9. Fight Cholesterol Dr Chiplonkar from Pune studied the lifestyle, behavioral and health aspects of 105 adults before and after undergoing the part I Art of Living Course. She found that majority of micronutrients showed a positive correlation with sattvic foods. After the practice of SKY for 2 months, she found a significant reduction in anxiety, sharp increase in antioxidant capacity, reduction in triglycerides and a marginal reduction in oxidative stress. 10. Beneficial for cancer patients Arielle Warner in USA studied the psycho spiritual benefits of SKY were studied in women diagnosed with breast cancer. The subjects were evaluated 2 weeks before the Art of Living Course, 8 days after the Course and after 5 weeks of regular practice. A significant improvement in quality of life, spiritual well being, positive states of mind and perceived stress was observed after the AOL course and was maintained 5 weeks later. 11. SKY rules over other similar yoga tools Dr Janis Carter from Australia compared the effects of different modalities like Iyengar and Desikachar yoga, Qi Gong, Sudarshan Kriya Yoga and a multicomponent yoga intervention (MCYI) in treating Australian Vietnam war veterans with long standing Post traumatic Stress disorder. She found that the interventions that used many tools of yoga viz. Sudarshan Kriya Yoga and MCYI showed the greatest efficacy.
12. Psychoanalytical healing
Dr Patricia Gerberg from USA discussed the effects of doing the SKY program in a patient undergoing psychoanalysis since a long time. She found SKY useful in healing negative past impressions and the `dissociation` that rendered the patient unable to connect with others and with his own feelings.
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