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Symposium on ‘Research on Yoga Based Practices’

Speaker 1:

Dr. Ulka Natu, Consultant Gynecologist


Topic: Relevance of Ancient Science of Yoga to Modern Obstetrics



Pregnancy is a unique time in a woman’s life wherein it is of prime importance that various dimensions of her being are in harmony. Though pregnancy and childbirth are not unnatural events, the physical, mental and emotional adaptive changes in body largely determine her good health and a positive outcome of pregnancy. The normal growth of fetus can be affected by a number of factors including stress.


Yoga, far from being mere physical or breathing acrobatics, is a science of body and mind; it is an attitude towards life elevating us to manifest the immense potentialities dormant in us. The investigations and the research into the physiological, biochemical, neurological, psychological aspects of yogic practices have provided deeper understanding about effects of yoga on various systems of body.


Upanishads are glorious ancient Vedic texts of Indian philosophy, a few of them e.g. Garbhopanishada, describing methodology of blessing and gracing our children even before they enter the world. Yogic approach as described by them offers practices and philosophy that would allow a pregnant woman to integrate physical, mental and spiritual dimensions to enhance her ability to be a mother. The compost of yogic practices would help to grow this seed of ‘yogankur’(nurturing fetus-the yogic way) with a better outcome of pregnancy giving a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.




Speaker 2:


Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati Ji, Doctor


Topic: Yogic Thoughts on Research in Pranayama



It is possible to go beyond the conventional areas of research on pranayama, like pure pranic effects and changes in vijnanamaya kosha. Interpretation may also be in light of yogic physiology and philosophy like guna, chakra in addition to conventional physiology and psychology.  


Speaker 3:

Divya Kanchibhotla, Executive Director (Sri Sri Institute for Advanced



Topic: Positive Impact of Sudarshan Kriya- An Overview of Scientific Studies



Sudarshan Kriya represents a form of yoga practice that focuses on breathing exercises in three different rhythms. In addition to asanas, it comprises of three different forms of pranayamas in succession. Studies have suggested the efficacy of Sudarshan Kriya in relieving depression, improving the antioxidant defenses of the body, giving rise to beneficial EEG patterns, and improvements in blood chemistry. Sudarshan Kriya has also been found to have a positive impact on physiological functions, endocrine system, psychological and clinical conditions, and immunity.



Speaker 4:

Dr. Madhusudan Penna, Professor, K. Kalidas Sanskrit University


Topic: Matter, Mind and Beyond- The Yoga Perspective



Matter, mind and consciousness have always attracted the attention of all thinking people alike throughout the world. In India, many systems of Darshana have evolved to show the path to realization and making life meaningful.


The Yoga Darshan is one of the realistic philosophies that evolved in India during 3-4th centuries BC, through the magnificent work of Sage Patanjali. It understands the world as a modification of three primordial forces affected for a definite purpose of the self. All the world experience is, in short, the play and display of the trio called manifest, unmanifest and the self. The self is consciousness, or the reality beyond mind and matter. In the western thinking, consciousness is either material or mental. But, in Yoga Darshan it has been regarded as distinct from both. In modern science it is felt that the substratum of energy is field which is unmanifest to our senses. The Samkhya system understands this as the Prakriti or Nucleus which is nothing but the state of equilibrium of these three forces. This nucleus is the Ultimate material cause of creation. It thus amounts to the theory that all matter is a modification of the nucleus called Prakriti. The nucleus in its true form is no cause of anything until it comes into contact with the Consciousness.


Modern scientists, especially the physicists, have underlined the importance of understanding consciousness. Max Planck remarked, "I regard consciousness as fundamental, I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind it. Everything we talk about or regard as existing postulates consciousness." Professor Audrius Beinorius lays equal stress on the importance of understanding the unconscious also from the point of view of Yoga philosophy in order to understand the consciousness.


Mind is the Guna-force connecting the matter with Consciousness. Yoga system understands this. Therefore, it recommends the regular practice of Ashtanga Yoga or Eight components of Yoga to channelizing the mind-force and completely dissolving it in its final cause thus leading to the state of pure Consciousness uninfluenced by matter. It believes that this is the final goal of human life.


The future of human intelligence is of integrative science combining physical, biological and mental realms of Reality laying emphasis on fundamental consciousness as the base of everything.  


Speaker 5:

Dr. B Ragavendrasamy, Professor, S-VYASA University, Bangalore


Topic: Yoga: An Evolution Conserved Strategy for Wellness



Evolution has resulted in development of diverse organisms on this Earth including humans. However, humans enjoy the specialty of reasoning and understanding with emotions and logic making him more unique of all other organisms in this earth. Present day science has attributed human organism to the DNA, the genetic material as his governing factor. As less as a two percent difference in the genome of a chimp and human fails to logically satisfactorily explain the uniqueness of humans.


The primates and other animals when subjected to a stressful environment, they respond by fighting, fleeing and freezing to the stimulus. But even though humans are also mentioned to follow a similar response, they offer a much complex response than what has been understood. It is not the stressor but the duration for which the stressor is being perceived and cognitively represented in one’s human’s mind that influences the outcome – this trait of evolution is hugely regulated by vagus, which in turn can be regulated with breathing and emotional regulation.


Maharishi Patanjali documents yoga as eight limbs with a final objective to attain Samadhi, where health and wellness are understood to be the side effects of practicing Yoga. This attribute of wellness, primarily is achieved through asana (physical postures), pranayama (voluntary regulation of breathing), and dhyana (meditation) practices. From the extent of literature available, the present day understanding of Yoga is that it regulates the autonomic nervous system to enhance stress resistance, modulate emotions and restore the system towards homeostasis. However, less is understood about how yoga practices are beneficial to humans irrespective of one being healthy, diabetic, obese, hypertensive or with cancer. We in this presentation, describe the theory of how yoga works and how yoga promotes adaptation to stress and also present the findings that describes Yoga as a personalised approach to promoting health.



Speaker 6:



Dr. Ashish Pandey, Associate Professor, IIT Bombay


Topic: Yoga and Positive Psychology



The emerging field of positive psychology has focused at taking individuals beyond the zero line and not just bringing people from negative to zero, i.e. not just free from illnesses, rather towards a state of flourishing. It represents a paradigm which focuses on the strengths of people (i.e. what is right about them) rather than the weaknesses and how people can achieve optimal functioning and full potential. In so doing, it endeavours towards a balanced and a holistic approach to study the essence of human functioning and behaviour.


In spite of the significant commonality in the objectives, promises and potentials of Yoga and positive psychology the theoretical linkages and empirical inquiry is scant in the literature. This presentation will elaborate on positive impact of Yoga practices among the students of IIT Bombay on various positive psychological outcomes like moral reasoning, engagement, vitality, psychological capital. In this presentation the speaker will also elaborate on the psychological mechanism through which Yoga based practices result in those outcomes.