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mardi 21 juin 2011


I have worked with Native American Indians for awhile and have been educated in their ways of thinking and their philosophy of life. So when a graduate from the oldest organized yoga institution in the world, Yoga Institute (Santa Cruz, Bombay) came to KL to introduce us to Classical (Raja) Yoga Philosophy, I found the similarities exhilarating and most welcome.
The UNION of Mind,Body and Spirit is common in both philosophies. From the very beginning, I had wanted to bring the practice of Yoga and its philosophy to the American Indians. Since the philosophies are similar, one could build the practice on that common ground. Currently, American Indians suffer from “Lifestyle Diseases” or “the Diseases of the Civilization”, namely Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and High Blood Cholesterol.
I am sure that a Combined Philosophical treatment of these Lifestyle Diseases would eliminate all three of the diseases, since their origins are very similar. In the case of the American Indians, they face conflicts from the incongruity of their lives with the world in which they now have to live in; their way of thinking also is conflict with the way of thinking of the culture in which they have to survive.
Thus, I was very interested to explore further when a recent graduate of the Yoga Institute, Mun Ching, gave me a book, published by the Institute.
How to Reverse Heart Disease: The Yogic Way
Research, Facts and Programme.
It details their programme for patients who are already suffering from Heart Diseases, the most common of which is Ischaemic Heart Disease.
If their method of counseling and Yoga therapy can arrest the progression of this modern disease, how wonderful it would be if people could use it and prevent these lifestyle diseases from occurring in the first place.
The various approaches, it is not just Eat Well and Exercise mantra, is described in detail. I will describe the results of a scientific study done at the Institute and the results are as follows:
A control group of patients with documented ischaemic heart disease received the usual care from their cardiologists. No Yoga Therapy was given nor did they attend any of the courses at the Yoga Institute.
The Second group chosen to be given Yoga therapy and education at the Yoga Institute over the course of the same year was looked after by their cardiologists in addition to the Programme at the Yoga Institute. All medications judged necessary were prescribed by the Cardiologists with the exception of Statin group of drugs, which are powerful medications to lower Cholesterol.
The laboratory investigations included that which is normally included in the study of cardiology patients in a medically developed country (whether it is Australia, Malaysia or India). To satisfy the curiosity of those who require scientific proof, Myocardial Perfusion Scanning as well as Angiograms was done. (These would quantify the functions of the heart being studied)
Patients were on the average about 55 years old, as expected men predominating both groups.
(We all know about the Placebo effect and how it can be a considerable portion of the results when studying groups and comparing them. The very fact that a group is being studied, without actually being provided Yoga Therapy will result in some decrease in all the parameters being measured but what would be interesting would be the marked degree of decrease in patients being treated with Yoga Therapy).
These changes were observed at the end of the year of study.
Every one lost weight, and the common amount of weight lost was about 10 pounds.
There was a decrease in the Waist to Hip Ratio, considered a good indicator of Insulin Resistance.
There was a decrease in the number of Total Calories consumed with a decrease in total Fat consumed but an increase in the complex carbohydrates consumed.
The quality of that change is even more interesting. (Western trained nutritionists do not stress this aspect)
Almost complete disappearance of Processed foods from the diet.
Reduction of meat consumption to near zero, in a population that is already 50 per cent vegetarian. (Same advice was given to the control group as well, but their decrease was less dramatic).
Neither group was on Anti Cholesterol Medications. The study group dropped their total cholesterol by an impressive 62 points (from 247 to 185, the control group dropped their levels from 221 to 213). The “bad” cholesterol came down from 146 to a respectful 100, whereas there was very little change in the control group, 151 to 147.
Psychological measurements of Stress such as Overt and Covert Anxiety, Hostility, Time Urgency, showed that 6 out of 10 patients in the study group improved their scores.
Programme adherence was noted in the majority of cases studied. Those included in the study had some interest in Yoga therapy.
In 7 out of 10 patients there was improvement in their blood vessels to the heart as studied by coronary angiography. 3 out of 10 patients in the control group also had regression of their coronary artery disease. The main difference in the two groups was that there were twice as many deteriorations in the Control group compared to the Study group. Myocardial perfusion scans also showed an improvement in study group and more importantly showed that a great majority had not deteriorated any further.
So it is obvious that this Lifestyle change has had a significant benefit to patients already suffering from ischaemic heart disease. It is worth remembering that none of them needed any surgery or other dramatic interventions.
Impressive as the results are, and eager as I am to institute some of these into the Native American Indian patients, how to translate LIFESTYLE changes in the cultural context of the Indians.
As an example, I could think of the Traditional Tribe who shares their time between Texas and Mexico. They are a culturally intact tribe, with every member speaking the language of the tribe and many of the younger members are tri lingual: their own language, Spanish and English.
I can imagine borrowing a little bit from the Peer-to-Peer Programme of MoPoTsyo in Phnom Penh and integrating the philosophy of the Yoga Institute.
Problems to recognize:
The prevalence of Diabetes, Hypertension and High Cholesterol and Obesity has skyrocketed.
While they are in the USA, the food available to them, from Government and other sources is of inferior quality.
They cannot practice many of their usual leisure time activities, which they can practice in Mexico.
While they lived as Indians among Mexicans and now they continue to live as Indians among Americans, the stress levels (as understood by themselves) has increased.
Educate a few Agents of Change who are tribal members with or without health care experience, in a philosophically based wellness-oriented-care.
Include those, young and old, working within the structure of the tribe, who have some experience and knowledge in the field of taking care of illnesses and suffering. Incorporation of this knowledge into their daily and actual lifestyle, i.e. to understand their reality in the frame work of these diseases of civilization, can be achieved by a transfer of knowledge done with respect and caring, in the cultural context of the tribe. The great advantage of working with this tribe is that they still can maintain a traditional way of life in their village in Mexico. Traditional lifestyle includes leisure activities and culturally responsible communal activities such as building traditional homes, which would define their reality.
Let us wait for the next step in this dream of bringing an Eastern Philosophically based treatment and combining it with the ancient worldview of the Indians.