Review of Yoga and Cardiovascular Management

Discussions with Swami Satyananda Saraswati and a group of French medical experts, yoga teachers and journalists. Published by Bihar school of Yoga, Munger; 136 pages.

Review by Dr Usha Sundaram, Consultant Psychiatrist, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences (N.I.M.H.A.N.S.), Bangalore

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to the understanding of this group of disorders is the amount of background knowledge that must first be assimilated. This barrier is surmounted in the book by weeding out repetitious research material in a concise compression of information which is practical, touching upon the relevant aspects of cardiovascular management and yoga. This important work represents an active collaboration between the two traditions of medicine and yoga.

In the introduction, while promising to indicate specific yoga practices for the management of cardiac problems, Swami Satyananda draws the discussion group to the essence of yoga. He points out that while yoga can prevent, cure or attenuate disease processes which are manifestations of matter, even as health is, his primary concern is with the spiritual dimension of man.

The book deals with research studies, supplementing medical treatment with yogic techniques. Relevant statistics are given. The mode of drug action and holistic etiological .discussion, on both physiological and psychological levels, are given. There are thought provoking questions to therapists on the ethical aspects of their roles, which deeply touch the complacency of conventional medicine. This book is a meeting point of two great disciplines, allopathy and yoga; an integration of two great healing systems. It is a dispassionate exploration of techniques in a common endeavour, that of helping suffering humanity. Ten major topics are dealt with in twelve chapters with inroads into respiratory diseases and cancer.

There are short discussions on associated conditions like diabetes, thromboembolism, stroke and cerebral degeneration.

It is difficult to say which of the chapters is its strong point. This work systematically and thoroughly covers our current knowledge on medicine and the practical techniques of an ancient system that is now coming back into its own. Various yogic techniques are discussed in the light of modern scientific understanding, including yoga nidra, pranayama and amaroli.

The references are one of the book's most useful features and there are sixty two in all. Anyone, from medical student to researcher, in any speciality dealing with vascular disorders, can scan this book with profit. Unquestionably this is a landmark in publication. It is a timely volume for those humane therapists who are seeking a way out- an alternative to drugging patients heavily and finding side effects they had not bargained for. Yoga is an area that has unlimited potential in view of modern scientific understanding. It is an area worth exploring. Indeed, yoga should be on the curriculum of all medical schools.