Integration of Yoga and Medicine in Poland

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

Yoga postures (asanas), respiratory exercises (pranayamas), relaxation (yoga nidra) and meditation techniques (dhyana) have been successfully adapted and introduced into psychiatric treatment and psychosomatic medicine in Poland. They have been applied for the last five years in the Psychiatric Clinic of the Medical Academy in Poznan, where yogic instruction is given in the specially designed 'hall of silence'. Here the surroundings help to evoke in patients a sense of calm, harmony and beauty while they practise. The adapted yogic techniques are termed 'relaxation-concentration training', and rehabilitation by this method is called 'psychokinesitherapy'.*1

In a recent investigation, the Poznan group evaluated the influence of yoga exercises for relaxation and concentration upon the frame of mind, mood and physico-mental activity of patients with psychogenic mental disturbances. Fifty five patients, hospitalized at the Psychiatric Clinic due to neurosis, situational reactions and personality disturbances, were involved in the study. The intensity of their symptoms was evaluated according to a 4 grade scale, and the influence of training assessed according to Zerssen's Scale.

The results showed that introduction of yoga into psychiatric rehabilitation programs improves a patient's frame of mind, mood and level of physico-mental activity. Of these three factors, mood improved most. The study found it is more important to select patients on the basis of their subjective opinions than according to symptom intensity. The more negative their subjective opinion is, the more effective the training is likely to be. Furthermore, any possible placebo effects were ruled out.*2


*1. T. Pasek, 'Relaxing-concentrating training as a form of rehabilitation of psychiatric patients', paper presented to the 6th World Congress of Psychosomatic Medicine, Montreal, Sept. 1981.

*2. C. Nowakowska, B. Fellmann, T. Pasek, J. Hauser and A. Sluzewska, 'Evaluation of the influence of yoga-type relaxation-concentration training on patients with psychogenic mental disturbances', paper presented to the 6th World Congress of Psychosomatic Medicine, Montreal, Sept. 1981.