Tuesday, 3 February 2015

yoga importance

Now, yoga to help HIV +ve live better? Indeed, says NARI
In a first, natl instt studied 60 HIV patients practising sudharshan kriya yoga, noticed positive changes; 17.5% even 'took to religion'

At a time when scientists have been rediscovering remarkable aspects of Indian mythology and culture that they claim precede modern-day scientific discoveries — much to the chagrin of some others — yoga is once again in the spotlight. Now, it is the turn of the National Aids Research Institute (NARI) to turn to sudarshan kriya yoga (SKY) to 'improve the quality of life among people living with HIV (PLHIV)'.

It is for the first time that an institute like NARI — which conducts various research works in HIV drugs, prevalence, epidemiology, techniques and more — has focused only on the efficacy of yoga in PLHIV.

Explaining that the ancient practice also helped some subjects find religion, principal investigator and former-director in-charge of NARI, scientist F Dr Nita Mawar, told Mirror, "We noticed fruitful results after we used SKY on 60 subjects, who were not on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and had a CD4 count that was above 400. We wanted to focus on three levels — independence, physical and psychological health. We noticed that of all the subjects, 18 per cent showed an improvement in physical health, 17 per cent showed psychological improvement and another 18 per cent showed independence. Interestingly, 17.5 per cent people also showed an increase in religious or spiritual beliefs."

She added, "The study took place between December 31, 2013, and March 31, 2014. We compiled and presented it in the Global Doctors' Medical Association Conference in Delhi at AIIMS in August 2014, where it was appreciated. We are still analysing and creating a record of the study, which will be completed in the next few weeks. We are also planning to suggest this as a policy document for HIV advocacy in the National AIDS Control Programme of our country. SKY has shown positive results in PLHIVs improving their quality of life and adherence to exercise. It is important to promote a healthy lifestyle among patients. Since it was a pilot study with successful results, we now plan to extend the programme to other parts of the country. This was a small sample of 60 people — once extended with institutes that work for PLHIV, we intend to increase the sample size as well."

But what was the main reason behind such a study in an institute that strongly believes in allopathy and medicine? Mawar explained, "Newly infected patients always experience anxiety, depression and an instantly affected immune system, which leads to co-morbidities. We planned this pilot study to ward off these stressbusters." NARI director Dr R Gangakhedkar made it clear that SKY is an alternative medicine and can be used as a dependent technique, which was performed on an age group between 18 and 50 in the study.

Asked about the development, Dr D B Kadam, head of the medicine department at Sassoon hospital, offered, "As an adjuvant therapy, it can be useful. However, people with HIV have to continue to adhere to drugs to improve the quality of their life and live longer." Dr Vaibhav Lunkad, medical officer at the Yerwada Hospital ART centre, said, "This is part of alternative therapies like Ayurveda. If such a study was undertaken, it is a good practice for PLHIVs who indulge in risk-taking behaviour. SKY can help people keep this at bay."

Mirror also spoke to a few PLHIVs who have witnessed the positive effects of yoga in their lives. Shubhada (37) from Alandi, an Art of Living teacher, has been tested negative for HIV viral load for three years in a row now. She shared, "I was detected with HIV in 2004; when I was put on ART, I underwent several adverse effects that led to severe weightloss. I had to stop ART till 2009. Doctors gave up hope. But, I came across this course — now, three years of continous yoga and SKY later, I have tested HIV negative and my CD4 count is 600. I am also off the medicines and work with the centre where I started practising yoga." Similarly, Rajeev (name changed), a 37- year-old HIV positive patient, who is an IT professional, narrated that he was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and became extremely weak. "I was not aware of ART then and my CD4 count had dropped to 38. Doctors sent me home saying they could do nothing. I had also contracted tuberculosis. Then, one of my colleagues suggested yoga. After practising for three months, I saw a change not only in my CD4 count — which hit 380 — but also my health; I even gained 10 kgs. By 2005, I had also started ART treatment, which is the main source of warding off HIV cells. Since then, I combine ART and yoga. My CD4 count is 780. People who have been suffering from HIV for long like me tend to go on to second-line therapy, but I am still on first-line therapy."