Yoga Paramparas Revealed

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29 Nov 2022

Yogavani

The Yoga Institute:
Legacy Series

The Yoga Institute: 

A Scientific Approach to Yoga

Introduction
Nestled in the midst of one of the busiest cities of India is calm and serene campus of The Yoga Institute (TYI). The institute was founded in the year 1918, by Shri Yogendraji with the inspiration and blessings of his guru His Holiness Paramahamsa Madhavdasji. The first class taught by the Founder was a group of ten students, on the Versova Beach of Mumbai on December 25th, 1918. Being the oldest organized yoga institute in the world, TYI was established with the goal of making the then secret knowledge of yoga, available to the householders so that the benefits of yoga could bring about improvement in their lives.

Shri Yogendraji followed a sound scientific approach following the traditional methods used by our ancient sages/rishis who experienced and studied the effects of various aspects of Yoga including asana and pranayama on themselves, prior to presenting this pristine knowledge to the masses. In the past decades, TYI has produced volumes of anecdotal and living evidence of the benefits of yoga through various structured programmes and numerous social initiatives. Additionally, multiple scientific research projects have been conducted, the outcomes of which have been compiled in numerous books and some have been published in scientific journals. In order to document the research observations `Yoga and Total Health’, a monthly journal on the Yoga way of life was first issued in 1933. However, much of the data from the investigative work at the TYI remains unpublished in scientific journals: these include the work that was conducted during a period of Shri Yogendraji’s initial stay in the United States (1918-1922).

Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra, too followed the scientific approach to yoga having written his PhD dissertation on the “Sankhya and Moksha Parva” in the Mumbai University. And now under the dynamic guidance of Smt. Hansa Ji Jayadeva Yogendra, the research work is catching speed to carry forward the legacy that began 103 years ago.

Research milestone-projects

The various research milestones/projects that have been carried out at TYI are as follows:

  • Radiologic studies of Sutra Neti Kriyas – 1921
  • Study of Prana in collaboration with Dr. Surendranath Dasgupta, then a professor at Cambridge University – 1924
  • Dynamic asanas propounded by Shri Yogendraji – 1926
  • First publication, “Yoga Personal Hygiene”[1], included report of research on Uddiyana and Pranayama – 1931
  • Study of the effects of Yoni Mudra by Harvard Scholars, Dr. Theresa Brosse (UNESCO) and Dr. J. B. Milanovich of Paris
    Research and survey of yogis in India commissioned by the Central Government of India – 1957
  • Recognition of TYI by Central Government of India, as a special institute of Yoga and research – 1958
  • Radiologic studies of Yogendra Pranayama by Dr. L. Kurulkar – 1963
    Tracking history of Yoga in Vedic, Upanishadic pre- and post-classical period of Patanjali – 1966
  • Medical Research Unit launched to study psychosomatic and psychiatric diseases by the Central Council for Research in Indian Medicine and Homeopathy – 1970 o Central Research Unit at the Institute involved medical practitioners who examined participants who were taught by Yoga Gurus, Shri Yogendraji and Dr. Jaydev
    First All India Yoga Conference of 100 Yogic practitioners was organized by TYI in partnership with Friends of Yoga
  • Study of participants of yoga classes at TYI were studied during the period of 1976-
    1980; the outcomes were published in the book “Yoga and Therapy”
    Study of personality development following yoga classes offered to students in schools of Mumbai – 1986
  • Sharing/Presentation of the yoga expertise by Smt. Hansa Jayadeva in a 50-episode Doordarshan TV programme – 1987-1990
  • Research of Yoga in Orthopedic conditions, Asthma and Diabetes by Smt Hansaji Jayadeva Yogendra and Dr. Jayadeva – 1990-1999 [2]

In addition to the informal investigative work carried out in the Institute over the decades of its existence, more recently, two research studies have documented the benefits of the yoga programs at the Institute and both were published in scientific journals:

Caring Heart Project on Reversal of Heart Disease following intervention with a Yogabased lifestyle – a prospective study of [3] one-year long yoga training in patients of coronary artery disease (71 patients had intervention with yoga-based lifestyle and 42 were control patients). Study patients showed statistically significant positive changes in terms of serum cholesterol, anxiety and regression of coronary artery lesions or less disease progression in the study group compared to the controls.

Study of anxiety, salivary cortisol and heart rate variability (HRV) [4] in 108 mothers (62 in Yoga Intervention group and 46 in Control group) whose children were taking for competitive examinations showed that the six-month yoga intervention in study group improved their scores of Hamilton Anxiety Scale, Proactive Coping Inventory, Self Esteem and WHO Well-being Index compared to the controls. The study group also showed a reduction in salivary cortisol and mean heart rate and increased High Frequency component of HRV and less increase of galvanic skin response in the study group participants compared to the controls.

Going forward

A formal Department of Research and Development came into being about three years ago with a vision of documenting evidence of the benefits of yoga practice through scientific enquiry and in doing so, bring forth this ancient modality to the forefront to be integrated into the current healthcare. Although the COVID-19 Pandemic has slowed the research work during the last two years, the department concluded one survey in the online teacher’s training course attendees during the earlier part of the Pandemic. Additionally, there is also an ongoing study of yoga intervention in the healthcare professionals that is funded by the Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Central Government of India. More research projects are in the pipeline and others are being conceived through various collaborations with other institutes.

References:

  1. Yogendra, S., Yoga Hygiene Simplified. 1931, Smt. Sitadevi, The Yoga Institute: Santacruz, Mumbai, India.
  2. Yogendra, H.J., A.N. Desai, and P.S. Mamtora, Yoga for back and joint disorders. 2000, Medium, C-303, Silver Towers, Kandivali (E), Mumbai, 400101: Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra.
  3. Yogendra, J., et al., Beneficial effects of yoga lifestyle on reversibility of ischaemic heart disease: caring heart project of International Board of Yoga. J Assoc Physicians India, 2004. 52: p. 283-9.
  4. Yogendra, H., S. Shetty, and M. Dave, Stress Management in Mothers of Students Appearing for Competitive Examinations through Yoga – A Comparative Study.

Journal of The Association of Physicians of India, 2015. 63.

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