Researching the effects of yoga poses with Ultrasound
Dr. Krishna Raman has achieved great success in cost effective preventive and curative healthcare by integrating Yoga and Western Medicine in his clinical practice. He has seamlessly optimized patients' overall health and wellness with the best of what both modern and ancient sciences can offer.
Medindia interviewed Dr. Krishna Raman MBBS, FCCP (Internal Medicine) and trained in Yoga by the legendary yoga expert B.K.S. Iyengar in Poona.
Dubbed by the Economic Times as the 'Man with a mission', and widely known as the 'dancers' doctor' Dr. Krishna Raman does more than just scribble prescriptions—he guides the patients on the principles of good living and healthy lifestyle. Medical practice worldwide has only recently woken up to promote patients' holistic health. Dr. Krishna Raman has tested and tried this method of complementing Yoga with western medicine for the last 25 years. True to the maxim, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating," his patients are from all over the world—Germany, Mexico, UK, US, Singapore, Sri Lanka and many other far corners. Some patients recovered so well that they went on to become Yoga teachers themselves, and vouch for the success of this method of striving for holistic health. Dr. Krishna Raman spoke to Medindia from his clinic that has a tastefully designed Yoga room annex in a quiet neighborhood in Chennai, South India.
You are a doctor with degrees in western medicine. Yet you have published many medical papers in various forums showing the benefits of complementing western medicine with Yoga. What prompted you to integrate Yoga with western medicine in your clinical practice?
I have been practising Yoga since I was 14 years, even before I entered a medical college. My parents have taught me a disciplined life style that includes exercise in daily life and have also set an example of value based living.
Medical education helped to lend a perspective to the yogic postures in terms of health benefits. As a medical student I won awards for yoga demos in inter-collegiate cultural events. A German patient who was suffering from nocturnal cramps for nearly 25 years was referred to me by a patient of mine who knew of my interest in Yoga. I realized all she had was muscle cramps and taught her some asanas and in just three days she was fully cured. She was fully convinced of the benefits of practicing yoga and is now a yoga teacher herself. I was amazed at the therapeutic potential of yoga after that and delved deeper into the ancient science and there has been no looking back ever since.
I continue to research yoga with Ultrasound and other techniques to prove or disprove the effects of yoga. This scientific approach is very important. With humility I would like to mention that my perspective of yoga has undergone a total transformation after I was fortunate enough to be drawn into the fold of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
Do you administer yoga therapy to all your patients?
No. Only if the clinical condition demands it and most importantly, only if I feel that the patient is able to do the asanas will I opt for yoga therapy. A patient who had almost lost total bladder and bowel function came to my clinic asking for yoga therapy. I advised immediate surgery.
Patients with orthopedic problems, spondylitis, lower back pain, computer related injuries (CRI), prolapse of the bladder—in fact, many mechanical ailments of the body respond well to yoga therapy.
Do you endorse the claims made by many yoga teachers that Yoga can cure all diseases?
Absolutely not. There are many diseases that Yoga has no role to play such as cancer, AIDS, Hepatitis, hernia and myopia, to mention a few. People blindly believe in the claims without questioning the logic behind the supposed cure. For example, Yoga can never be used as treatment for obesity for the simple reason that not enough fat is burned by practicing yoga. Hernia likewise needs surgery (when advanced) and hepatitis is a serious viral disease.
Very rarely do I come across a patient who diligently practices Yoga even after a particular health problem is solved.
When a patient comes to me with a complaint of recurrent cold, I teach Pranayama "the breath of life" instead of straightaway prescribing antihistamines (unless needed). The patient enthusiastically learns the breathing techniques, but refrains from practicing them on a regular basis to ensure better health and wellness always.
Most patients take yoga therapy for a temporary relief, go back to their busy lifestyle that relegates Yoga to the background until another ailment crops up at a later date and they rush to me for treatment. In my opinion, altering one's lifestyle to follow a healthy routine of diet, exercise, relaxation and mind control promotes a sense of wellness at all times.
Is it enough for a person to do yoga alone to exercise the body?
No. Every exercise has its own benefit, only the methodology is different. Yoga is a passive exercise in the sense it does not involve rigorous activity as in swimming, cycling, aerobics, jogging or even brisk walking. There are certain biochemical changes that do not occur with yoga practice as it occurs with other exercises. Yoga is not a one-stop shop as most people think it is. For instance, Yoga cannot burn calories fast as these other exercises do. Also very few people do it consistently and systematically. Sometimes it is better to do exercises from different systems to keep fit. I have been meticulously practicing yoga since I was fourteen; still I keep aside time for swimming sessions as often as possible.
A lot many of your patients and students are foreigners. Is it easy taking an oriental practice to foreigners?
I do have many patients outside India and I am frequently invited abroad for demonstrations and lectures on yoga. I admire the diligence with which foreigners learn and practice yoga, which perhaps stems from their reverence for a system that they have learnt, promotes holistic health. Back home it is a matter of regret for me that yoga is no more than a fad or hype and there are very few, good teachers who teach Yoga with perfection.
What bothers you most when it comes to your practice of combining yoga and western medicine?
It bothers me when patients come to me believing yoga has miraculous power to cure ailments. Yoga requires an inner shift—a conscious decision by the practitioner to choose good over evil, right over wrong in every aspect of life. Yoga is a way of life.
A disciplined lifestyle and diligent practice are very necessary to reap the full benefit of yoga therapy. Healing happens faster when the patient's attitude is positive and there is serious commitment on the patient's part to overcome the illness.
Your patients say that over and above the treatment, you help bail them out of depression. How do you manage that?
I never miss an opportunity to tell my patients, "Whoever you are and whatever you do, believe in the essential goodness of what you are doing and do it well." A healthy mind-body-emotion combo is imperative for good health and wellness. Yoga and Pranayama may help an individual achieve control and prevent illness in body (to an extent) and mind but ultimately health is in God's hands. I lace my treatment with spirituality because I believe if the human spirit is able to rise above mere materialistic aspects of living, only then holistic health can be achieved.
Dr. Krishna Raman exudes a positive energy and enthusiasm that comes from all those years of diligent yoga practice and reaching out to others in distress with a genuine concern. His books, "A Matter of Health" and "Yoga and Medical Science: FAQ, offer detailed medical explanations for the mechanisms of asanas and Pranayama.
Medindia wishes more people in this world would slow down from a mindless, mad rush of living, understand that popping pills is not a healthy alternative to good lifestyle, realize the real purpose of living and take time to look within and without to establish love, peace, harmony in their inner being and in the world outside.
"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." Maria Robinson