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Yoga For Back and Joint Disorders*

Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra, Hansaji Yogendra & Dr. P Mamtora

The Project
For long the Institute has faced several questions, "Do you  have a book on the care of arthritis?" "How can I improve  my posture?" "How can I relax so that my back does not hurt?". We realised it was time to present people with a detailed book on the prevention and care of orthopaedic problems. Dr. P. S. Mamtora an orthopaedic surgeon with a deep interest in Yoga decided to conduct a special orthopaedic project. The intention was to scientifically tabulate the positive effects of Yoga in the prevention and care of orthopaedic  problems. The project began when one hundred and sixty five people registered themselves. The orthopaedic surgeon examined each one and the findings were recorded on a detailed form. There was a psychological test called PF 16 which measured the personality profile of the person.
Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra the Director of the Institute minutely examined each form and personally guided each participant. There was an EMG test conducted which measured the amount of tension in the muscles. Every alternate Sunday, for six months, the participants were called in for a period of two and half hours. Detailed instructions were given about various Yogic practices. Hansaji the Director of The Yoga Institute used to regularly impart to them the philosophy of Yoga. Every person there was given individual emotional support. A one day camp was arranged at the Institute where people could experience the food, the attitude, and the atmosphere while benefitting from the expertise of the  Yoga guides and Dr. P. S. Mamtora. In all, the response to this project has been very worthwhile in terms of patient satisfaction as well as in terms of assuaging the pain of the people.


Name: CP                        Age: 39 years
Occupation                      Eye Surgeon
Symptoms                       On exertion mild heaviness in the left lower extremity. Severe low back  pain.
Diagnosis                        Prolapsed lumber disc with neurological deficit. Surgery was recommended.
Experience                      When she joined the camp there was a certain amount of reticence. She did not mingle around
                                          with the rest of the participants and remained silent most of the time. Four months later  CP.
                                           returned to the Institute to provide the feedback.

  1. She said her awareness was more enhanced. She now consciously tried not to over exert and to take adequate rest. She also takes hot water fomentation regularly and is consciously able to avoid sudden jerks to her back.

  2. She feels that she is able to think positively most of the time.

  3. She is now concentrating on developing her hobbies as she realises that it is the finest way to spend constructive time with herself.

  4. She has reduced her intake of non-vegetarian and excessively oily food and prefers to have a lot of salads along with her vegetarian food.

  5. She is able to streamline her daily activities into a healthy routine. Daily practice of asanas takes pride of place here. She is certain that as she continues with this regularity the benefits will be tremendous. The improvement in the problem: At the end of the camp, C.P. was much more relaxed and friendly. She felt considerably free of pain and enjoyed the flexibility.

Six months later when she came to the Institute to help with the children's camp she showed tremendous improvement in her attitude to life. She had realised what the root causes of her ailment were tension, stress and inhibitions. CP. is able to stand and do her duties, like performing an eye surgery, for longer periods. She says that she does not have any pain and that fatigue does not bother her anymore.

Name:  B.K.                        Age: 56 years
Occupation                         Businessman
Symptoms                          Severe pain in his neck, acidity and obesity. Cervical spondylosis, Impatient, aggressive,
                                              extremely intelligent, egoistic and a perfectionist.

Experience: I was very difficult to live with. My children afraid of me. My wife was completely subdued because of my overbearing personality. I was always a leader and I took pride in my achievements. I could not tolerate anybody's interference or weaknesses. I always had my way to promote my opinions in every situation. The pain in my neck was very severe and I needed help. After the orthopaedic surgeon had said that I had severe cervical spondylosis, I found my way to The Yoga Institute. I have never looked back since then. At the Institute I was made to realize that the problem was not outside me, as I had thought all along. It was my whole outlook to life and the way I approached it that needed to be changed. I learnt how to control my body and mind through Yoga. My entire method of dealing with people changed as a result. Through Pranayamas I found a rare serenity descending upon me. Gradually, I noticed that people in the family and at the work place, who earlier on stayed away from me, were more relaxed in my company. It was a divine feeling. The association with the Institute has continued. I feel very indebted to the teachers at the Institute who have inspired my life in great measure. Improvement in the problem: "The collar which I was wearing on my neck has been kept aside. I have no more aches and pains. I have reduced my weight and feel free and relaxed though the work load has tripled. I have gained inner serenity and can remain detached even in times of crisis. Recently when I lost a large sum of money in business I was amazed at my own ability to take it in my stride calmly. My nagging pain in the neck and continuous vertigo have vanished."


Name: DL                            Age: 30
Present Diagnosis            Rheumatoid Arthritis

Symptoms                         :When young she was a lively youngster who loved sports and running. Suddenly she found herself straddled with aches and pains in her joints, her legs, her elbows and her fingers. Every movement became an arduous task. This upset her terribly. The years were rolling by and her aches and pains were being controlled by medication. The high dosages were adding to her problems. She suffered from acidity and food did not appeal to her any more. In desperation after running from one doctor to another she landed at The Yoga Institute. Here she learnt that in tackling her problems she not only had to learn how to control her pain but she had to learn how to live again. She was gently pushed into a routine of exercise, work, relaxation and recreation. She discovered that she was becoming a physical cripple and decided that if her body was crippled, her mind had to remain strong and active and she joined several classes and gradually got greatly interested in Yoga. She wanted to become a Yoga teacher. She studied and became one. She now comes to the Institute recreational activities. Her melodious voice and mild temperament are an inspiration to all.


1) Improvement in the Physical State: The relaxed mode of various Yoga practices coupled with a relaxed attitude and controlled breathing took many of the participants by surprise. Many were not even aware of the tensions that had been lodged within their bodies. For some, the very fact that they actually moved their hitherto 'useless' limb was reason for irrepressible joy. This chart gives us an idea of the various levels of physical benefits derived by those who attended the orthopaedic camp.

Dr. P. S. Mamtora (Orthopaedic Surgeon), delivering a talk
at the orthopaedic camp at The Yoga Institute, Santacruz (E).

Results: Improvement in percentage:
Much: 32.5%;                  Very Much: 37.5%; 
Little: 22.5%;                   Very Little: 7.5%

2) Improvement in the Emotional State: Despite being aware that emotions play an important role in defining one's health status, modern medical science has not found a pill or a shot that can deal with them. Yoga which is a way of life, offers lifestyle management as a tool to improve emotional states. Simply because the emotions refuse to let themselves be studied under a microscope it does not mean that they should be overlooked and over-ruled. Medical practitioners have consistently remained stubborn in their disbelief about emotions and their relationship with ill health. Grudgingly some medical practitioners are now acknowledging the body-mind connection. Yoga believes implicitly in the dictum. 'As is the mind so is the man'. This chart gives an idea of how many people who initially attended a camp to deal with their Orthopaedic problems, also benefitted emotionally.
Results: Improvement in %: Much: 45.45%; Very Much: 22.72%; Little: 27.29%; Very Little: 4.54%
3) Improvement in the Mental State: One of the many interpretations of the meaning of the word Yoga is complete control of the mind 'Citta Vritti Nirodha'. Yoga propounds that the body and the mind are not two separate entities but instead are very closely linked. What the mind goes through, the body interprets. When the mind is in turmoil the body shows signs of malfunction. Slowly, but surely, the strong links between disease and its roots in the mind are gaining wide acceptance. The number of people who have improved their mental conditions following this project are indicated in this diagram.
Results:  Improvement in %: Much: 44.68%; Very Much: 21.29%; Little: 29.78%;  Very Little: 4.25%
4) Improvement in Spiritual Awareness:  A refusal to accept the higher reality, refusal to explore
one's true nature and improve oneself often leaves many a person feeling empty. Disease then finds an easy route. Several people who attended this project were able to sense a subtle deepening of their spiritual beliefs.