Conference held as part of the Art of Living Silver Jubilee Celebrations.
1. Dr Richard Brown from the USA discussed how the application
of newer technologies to basic research in Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY)
has thrown light on our understanding of how SKY works. He postulated
that SKY contributes to a state of alert calmness by its effect on
the vagus nerve which is the core of the parasympathetic system.
Recent studies have shown that 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. Vagal activity is estimated from the respiratory sinus
arrhythmia as measured by heart rate variability.
Impaired vagal activity is found in people with depression, anxiety,
panic disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, violent adults,
fibromyalgia, post traumatic stress disorder, early Alzheimer's and
obesity. Nowadays, an instrument that artificially stimulates the
vagus nerve is being used to treat depression, epilepsy, early
Alzheimer's disease and is an experimental treatment for obesity.
Stephen Porges, the foremost expert on the activity of the vagus
nerve on reviewing the research done on SKY has suggested that the
different rhythms of breath in SKY may stimulate different diameter
fibers of the vagus nerve. This makes SKY unique and likely to have a
much wider range of effects than the currently available electronic
vagus nerve stimulator.
Dr Brown suggested that other mechanisms by which SKY works are by
calming of stress response systems, neuroendocrine release of
hormones, nitric oxide neurotransmission, fear conditioning circuits
(prefrontal cortex and limbic system), and thalamic generators. He
also discussed various knowledge points as articulated by Sri Sri
Ravi Shankar from a neuro scientific perspective for
e.g., `Enlightenment is innocence with intellect'. Interestingly,
brain wave rhythms during and after SKY are similar to those of
2. Dr Fahri Saatcioglu from Oslo did a controlled 6 week long
study of the effect of SKY on the relaxation response and feelings of
wellness on 109 subjects. 56 subjects went through the SKY course and
thereafter performed SKY yoga daily for 6 weeks. The control group of
53 subjects relaxed in an arm chair for 15 minutes daily for the same
period. Both groups were given questionnaires to assess changes in
depression, anxiety, dispositional optimism, stress, energy and
degree of altered states of consciousness before the instruction and
6 weeks later. Dr Fahri found a statistically significant increase in
the experience of wellness in the SKY group compared to the controls.
He found a significant decrease in degree of anxiety, depression and
stress and a significant increase in degree of optimism in the group
3. Dr Neeta Singh from New Delhi studied the effects of SKY on
the gene ex-pression levels of the genes that affect several stress
related pathways of the human body. She found an increase in
antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione
peroxidase and glutathione in the 26 SKY practitioners as compared
with 25 age and sex matched controls. The level of Glutathione was
three times higher in SKY practitioners as compared with controls. A
small increase was seen in hTERT in SKY practitioners which indicates
delayed senescence and perhaps a longer life span. The observed
decrease in bcl-2, C-Myc and C- Fos in SKY practitioners suggests
probable better protection against cancer. This study suggests that
subjects doing SKY regularly have a better antioxidant status and
better ability to cope with stress.
4. 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 measurably
significant changes in ALL physiological measures. Beginning
practitioners of SKY had greater changes from their baselines
compared to more advanced practitioners.
He found that during the practice there is challenge, followed by
temporary disorganization leading to calming, regularization and
synchrony in such measures as heart rate variability and EEG. The
EEGs of beginners showed pockets of synchrony whereas in more
advanced practitioners the baseline pre- practice synchrony was
higher and a very high degree of “total brain synchrony” was observed
across all 19 channels during the breath practices and rest periods.
It appears that over a period of time, the practitioner's physiology
becomes more robust, flexible and able to deal with the challenges of
stressors and still is able to idle comfortably during quiescence.
This explains why regular practice of SKY is very important.
Dr Larsen also observed certain large waves in the EEGs during SKY
that resemble the ECT waves (electro convulsive therapy). Electro
convulsive therapy is an age old treatment that is very effective in
treating depression but is unpopular because of its side effects and
convulsions produced. He suggested that the effect of SKY on the
brain is like a subconvulsive dose of ECT without the side effects of
an ECT. This could explain why SKY is effective in patients with
5. Dr Lyulyakina from Russia studied the functional status of
the brain during and after the practice of SKY in 12 volunteers. She
found that all the participants showed statistically significant
improvement of EEG parameters proved by spectral, power and
topographic mapping and coherence analysis. She did not find any
statistically significant difference in the dynamics of
electrophysiological process between the long Sudarshan Kriya and the
shorter version of Sudarshan Kriya.
6. Dr Geetha from Bangalore studied the effect of SKY on
antioxidant enzyme activities in menopausal women. -There were 4
groups compared. One group of 40 women received hormone replacement
therapy, one group of 40 received 500mg of Vit E daily, a group of 60
women practiced SKY daily and 50 women served as controls. In all
groups, the plasma MDA levels (as an index of lipid peroxidation),
erythrocyte SOD (superoxide dismutase) and blood GSH (glutathione
peroxidase activity) were measured at the start and at the end of 30
Dr Geetha found a significant decrease in the MDA levels and marked
elevation of GSH-px and SOD levels in the group that practiced SKY as
compared with the other groups. Hence the practice of SKY improves
the antioxidant power of menopausal women and is superior to the
beneficial effects seen with HRT or Vit E on anti oxidant levels.
7. Dr Vedamurthachar from Bangalore studied the effect of the
AOL Course on occupational stress and anxiety among 60 software
engineers in Bangalore. At the end of a month, the 30 engineers who
took the AOL course showed a statistically significant reduction in
anxiety and improvement in stress coping skills as compared with the
30 controls. However there were no significant changes seen in the
stress symptoms and stress producer variables.
8. The oral microflora of SKY practitioners was studied by E G
Lyulyakina from Russia. She found that the number of micro organisms
in lacto vegetarians were 2-3 times less than that in non strict
vegetarians. Oral fluid samples of strict vegetarians did not show
any growth of microorganisms after SKY practices. The bacteria found
in oral cavity of non vegetarians were Gram negative Proteus which is
evidence of putrefactive processes in the mouth of non vegetarians.
She concluded that practice of SKY and a vegetarian diet reduces the
microbial content of the mouth.
9. 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
score, marginal improvement in patience score and no change in stress
score. She also found a significant increase in antioxidant capacity
(measured as SOD), reduction in triglycerides, and a marginal
reduction in oxidative stress (as measured by plasma MDA levels).
Practicing SKY regularly resulted in greater reduction of anxiety
score than less frequent practice. Subjects also reported a sense of
well being, improvement in sleep quality and more enthusiasm at work.
10. The psychospiritual benefits of SKY were studied in women
diagnosed with breast cancer by Arielle Warner in USA. 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 statistically
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. 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
12. 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.
13. Janis Apted from the USA studied the effects of SKY on 48
highly stressed faculty members of the Anderson Cancer Centre in
Houston, Texas. The participants reported improvement in their mood,
anxiety, stress, ability to stay calm and levels of anger and
14. Dr A M Huang from Taiwan showed how the serum levels of BDNF
(Brain derived neurotrophic factor) were increased after practice of
Pranayam and SKY. BDNF is lower in patients with depression compared
to controls. A rise in serum BDNF levels could be an indicator of the
beneficial effects of SKY on depression.
15. An electrophysiological study on the effects of SKY was
presented by Shruti Baijal from Allahabad. An EEG study was done on
SKY practitioners and age matched controls. Mismatch negativity
paradigm that provides an indirect physiological measure of the way
sensory information is processed by the brain was used for the study.
Her conclusion was that there is a more efficient process of
inhibition of irrelevant information and maintenance of focused
internalized attention for the SKY practitioners.
Studies on Nav Chetana Shibir (Breath Water Sound Course)
1. Dr Theresa Descilo from the USA did a controlled study on
survivors of the tsunami disaster. One group was given the Nav
Chetana Shibir, one group the Nav Chetana Shibir and Traumatic
incident reduction programme (another interventional method for
treating post traumatic stress reduction), and another group with no
interventional programme served as controls. Those subjects
undergoing the Nav Chetana Shibir showed significantly reduced
symptoms of post traumatic stress and depression and better general
health compared to the control group. This study suggests that the
NCS is a safe and effective intervention for rapid relief of
psychological symptoms following mass disasters.
2. A study of the effect of Nav Chetana Shibir on heroin users
was done by Dr Anju Dhawan in Delhi. 15 heroin addicts were compared
with 14 controls and showed significantly more motivation and
positive changes in the quality of life within 2 weeks after a Nav
Guruji made all the doctors present at the Conference take a vow to
discourage sex determination tests and abortion of female fetuses. He
asked all the doctors to attend at least 3 free medical camps every
year. He also encouraged all the doctors to keep abreast with all the
latest developments in their fields.