Question from Paul Harvey
On the question of clinical conditions, the Western way treats disease in terms of the use of drugs and has a consistent response to disease and this is seen as something that is of great interest to people in the West.
In terms of Yoga research could you talk more about what exists in terms of research into Yoga in India from a medical viewpoint.
Response from TKV Desikachar
We have a lot of data to say that somebody had a problem, they went to some Yoga courses and then they got better. We have enormous data back in India. This is because India has many Yoga teachers, reputable teachers and not so reputable teachers. When I look at the journals and newspapers many Institutions are doing a lot of good work where people feel better after going to Yoga.
The problem is what does this word ’Yoga’ mean. Because science is exact, science expects that we know what was given and what were the conditions in which it was given and what are the effects and science expects this to be repeated again and again. A particular medicine is given for a particular condition again and again and again and when it was not given it does not work and when it is given it works, this is why they have this double blind test.
Unfortunately, this is not so simple with Yoga. The techniques that different Yoga masters use, known as Yoga, are different, for example, what Svāmi Śivananda teaches is different from what my Great Uncle Mr B K S Iyengar uses, there is no comparison. Nor what a lot of other people such as Kuvalayananda use, I have nothing to do with that or what my uncle uses. In fact, they had a head-on collision about their techniques, they are not able to accept each others techniques, but each one of them helps hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people in their own way.
Now this is the challenge for scientists, because the fundamental basis of looking at the human body by scientists is different from how we look in Yoga. As my father said modern medicine is based on a dead body anatomy but we are dealing with a human being who is alive, who has emotions and intellect and with so many things happening.
How to do research, to say this is the problem, this is the intervention and this is the result is a challenge for Yoga. In our own school, the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandarim, which was started twenty-five years ago, we had a data bank and there are now 28,000 people who came to us. This is quite a number, every day people came, tens and hundreds of people came and we have many teachers. Each teacher teaches slightly differently from the others. We have at least 95 per cent positive results.
Now if science were to ask me how could you prove this I don’t know how to prove it. I ask them please help me as to how I can prove this because there are too many variations involved in analysing. But we continue to help people so we know what happens, we do not know why it happens, we don’t even know how it happens, but we do know that when somebody comes we can help them and they feel better.
– Extract from Interview with TKV Desikachar by Paul Harvey in 2000 on ‘Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy’.