Recent Research in Japan

Dr Swami Karmananda Saraswati, MB, BS (Syd.)

Dr Hiroshi Motoyama Ph.D., Head of the Institute for Religious Psychology in Tokyo, Japan, has been carrying out scientific research into yoga, meditation, psychic and spiritual development. To do this he has found it necessary to develop more sensitive equipment. In A Psycho-physiological Study of Yoga Dr Motoyama has examined the psychological and physiological concomitants of yoga practice in order to define any special characteristics in the physiology of a yogi to distinguish him from a person not practicing techniques of consciousness expansion and spiritual development.

Kundalini/Raja Yoga

He made a polygraph on an advanced Indian yogi, Kakinada, while he was practicing bhastrika pranayama (the bellows breath). The significant results were:

  1. EEG (electroencephalogram) showed a predominance of beta waves with base line fluctuation. Beta waves indicate a high degree of mental activity, and he states that baseline fluctuation is a common characteristic of EEG's of yogis and psychically developed persons. It indicates that the fundamental potential of the brain tissue possesses a wider degree of activity than that of a normal person whose baseline is constant.
  2. The plethysmograph showed a fixed rhythmical fluctuation, indicating a constant and regular change in the function of the heart and circulatory system. Dr Motoyama claims this is a further characteristic of yogis whose polygraphs he has recorded all around the world.
  3. The GSR (galvanic skin resistance), a sensitive measure of the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, was markedly diminished showing exceptional excitement of the sympathetic nervous system. This is a further characteristic often recorded in highly developed yogis.

By way of comparison, a disciple of the yogi who had practiced yoga for one year was also recorded on the polygraph while performing bhastrika pranayama. His polygraph shows no such alteration in physiological parameters.

Dr Motoyama and Kakinada yogi claim bhastrika, which is accompanied by profound alterations in the autonomic function, has the power to awaken the kundalini.

In a subsequent experiment, Dr Motoyama made a polygraph on a 70 year old raja yogi from India. This man's meditation practice produced some different results.

EEG - predominantly alpha waves with high potential, indicating a deeply relaxed state of mind. Respiratory rate - decreased from normal.

GSR - no change, indicating stability of the sympathetic nervous system. In this raja yogi we see a parasympathetic predominance, whereas the kundalini yoga practice produced sympathetic predominance. These two cases indicate that different branches of yoga product different physiological effects.


Dr Motoyama has carried out a great deal of research into the chakras and kundalini. He has set out to ascertain by scientific means whether or not the chakras do exist, and if they do, what is their relationship to the autonomic nervous system and the internal organs. He used the chakra/plexus relationships compiled by Dr Ananda, Head of Physiological Studies for the National Institute of Health in New Delhi. Drawing also on prior research work carried out by Dr Ishikawa Hidetsurianaru, Prof, of Physiology at Kyoto University, he monitored the internal organ activity by recording the electrical potentials at certain specific skin points. Through a series of such experiments, Dr Motoyama found that there are significant differences in the physiological functions of the organs associated with each chakra which the subjects of the study claimed to have awakened through spiritual practice. His research led him to conclude that chakras do exist.

Pinpointing the Differences

In further research work, Dr Motoyama tried to clarify the differences between spiritually developed and normal subjects. He noted that:

  1. Yogis show a much wider activity in the autonomic nervous system, especially in the nerves controlling the organs which correspond to an awakened chakra. Such individuals show an increased competition between sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves when compared to normal subjects. However, this increased competition is clearly differentiated from a normal individual suffering from autonomic nervous instability. Such a subject shows no rhythm underlying the instability, whereas the yogi exhibits a fixed rhythm in abnormal pulse and respiration patterns.
  2. Persons with awakened chakras possess the ability to consciously control autonomic nervous function such as stopping the heart.
  3. The developed yogi displays a much closer interdependence of body and mind than a normal person. Any physiological change is quickly reflected in the mind, and any psychological change quickly influences the state of the body.
  4. The yogi or psychically developed person also possesses the ability to transcend the physical body and the mind which we are normally aware of, and to pass into an unlimited state or other dimension of consciousness.
  5. In tests on the sending and receiving of psychic energy, 'receivers' who practiced yoga or possessed natural psychic abilities showed much greater reaction in the autonomic nervous system to the influence of the sender's consciousness than normal subjects.


The results of these and many other experiments have led Dr Motoyama to the conclusion that there is a super-conscious awareness of a non-ordinary reality. The potential to discover and explore this hidden dimension is within us all waiting to be awakened, but some have developed it more than others. The practices of yoga and tantra provide modern men and women with a readily accessible doorway to the higher states of consciousness.