Harvard Yoga Scientists Find Proof of Meditation Benefit

Scientists are getting close to proving that yoga and meditation can ward off stress and disease

yogaLondon: Scientists are getting close to proving what yogis have held to be true for centuries—yoga and meditation can ward off stress and disease.

John Denninger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, is leading a five-year study on how the ancient practices affect genes and brain activity in the chronically stressed. His latest work follows a study he and others published earlier this year showing how so-called mind-body techniques can switch on and off some genes linked to stress and immune function.

While hundreds of studies have been conducted on the mental health benefits of yoga and meditation, they have tended to rely on blunt tools like participant questionnaires, as well as heart rate and blood pressure monitoring. Only recently have neuro-imaging and genomics technology used in Denninger’s latest studies allowed scientists to measure physiological changes in greater detail.

“There is a true biological effect,” said Denninger, director of research at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, one of Harvard Medical School’s teaching hospitals. “The kinds of things that happen when you meditate do have effects throughout the body, not just in the brain.”

The government-funded study may persuade more doctors to try an alternative route for tackling the source of a myriad of modern ailments. Stress-induced conditions can include everything from hypertension and infertility to depression and even the aging process. They account for 60-90% of doctor’s visits in the US, according to the Benson-Henry Institute. The World Health Organization estimates stress costs US companies at least $300 billion a year through absenteeism, turn-over and low productivity.

Seinfeld, Murdoch

The science is advancing alongside a budding mindfulness movement, which includes meditation devotees such as Bill George, board member of Goldman Sachs Group and Exxon Mobil Corp., and comedian Jerry Seinfeld. News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch recently revealed on Twitter that he is giving meditation a try.

As a psychiatrist specializing in depression, Denninger said he was attracted to mind-body medicine, pioneered in the late 1960s by Harvard professor Herbert Benson, as a possible way to prevent the onset of depression through stress reduction. While treatment with pharmaceuticals is still essential, he sees yoga and meditation as useful additions to his medical arsenal.

Exchange programme
It’s an interest that dates back to an exchange programme he attended in China the summer before entering Harvard as an undergraduate student. At Hangzhou University, he trained with a tai chi master every morning for three weeks.

“By the end of my time there, I had gotten through my thick teenage skull that there was something very important about the breath and about inhabiting the present moment, he said. I’ve carried that with me since then.”

His current study, to conclude in 2015 with about $3.3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, tracks 210 healthy subjects with high levels of reported chronic stress for six months. They are divided in three groups.

One group with 70 participants perform a form of yoga known as Kundalini, another 70 meditate and the rest listen to stress education audiobooks, all for 20 minutes a day at home. Kundalini is a form of yoga that incorporates meditation, breathing exercises and the singing of mantras in addition to postures. Denninger said it was chosen for the study because of its strong meditation component.

Participants come into the lab for weekly instruction for two months, followed by three sessions where they answer questionnaires, give blood samples used for genomic analysis and undergo neuro-imaging tests.

‘Immortality enzyme’

Unlike earlier studies, this one is the first to focus on participants with high levels of stress. The study published in May in the medical journal PloS One showed that one session of relaxation-response practice was enough to enhance the expression of genes involved in energy metabolism and insulin secretion and reduce expression of genes linked to inflammatory response and stress. There was an effect even among novices who had never practiced before.

Harvard isn’t the only place where scientists have started examining the biology behind yoga.
In a study published last year, scientists at the University of California at Los Angeles and Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn found that 12 minutes of daily yoga meditation for eight weeks increased telomerase activity by 43%, suggesting an improvement in stress-induced aging. Blackburn of the University of California, San Francisco, shared the Nobel medicine prize in 2009 with Carol Greider and Jack Szostak for research on the telomerase immortality enzyme, which slows the cellular aging process.

Build resilience

Not all patients will be able to stick to a daily regimen of exercise and relaxation. Nor should they have to, according to Denninger and others. Simply knowing breath-management techniques and having a better understanding of stress can help build resilience.

“A certain amount of stress can be helpful,” said Sophia Dunn, a clinical psychotherapist who trained at King’s College London. “Yoga and meditation are tools for enabling us to swim in difficult waters.” Bloomberg

Source: www.livemint.com

Mashramani 2014 Celebration by Texila American University

Texila American University (TAU) for the first time since its operation in 2010 joined Guyana in celebrating its recent 44th Republic anniversary on the 23rd February, 2014. Mashramani is an Amerindian word which means “Celebration after Hard Work”. This year Mashramani was celebrated under the theme “Cultural Folklore; Celebrating 44″, it is most commonly known as “Mash”. This is one of the most anticipated festivals for Guyanese; since they are given the opportunity to mix, mingle and design costumes, art and music to depict their rich cultural heritage. It is usually followed by a hive of activities which includes calypso, steel band, soca and chutney competitions. We at TAU were most proud to part-take in the cultural celebrations.


TAU Pageant 2013

Texila American University recently hosted an Annual Cultural Evening on December 22nd, 2013 at the National Cultural Centre, Georgetown, Guyana. Students of Texila hailing from 35 countries celebrated and enjoyed their differences that the diversity has created for students, faculty, and staff.

The cultural evening showcased a wide range of cultural performances including classical and traditional dance, music, skit, mime, pageant show, etc. representing the traditions.

Pro-Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Dr. Prem Misir was the guest speaker and awarded the students who have proved their excellence in academics, sports and cultural events.

Medical Conferences And Their Importance While Studying Medicine

Arun Raghavendra: An MD student of Texila American University talks about his experience on attending Continuous Medical Education

TAU studentThis is a brief write up of my experiences after having attended three medical presentation and I thought why not share it with my fellow students. This write up was drafted after Mr. Balakumar, Admin Manager, TAU, asked me to put my experiences and my view about the CME lectures and their share in training to be doctor. I firmly believe medicine is not only practised as a team but also learnt as a team.

The first presentation was on the 17th of January 2014, a team of faculty from the HOWARD UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, Washington DC, United States, presented a two day series of lectures on heart diseases, effects and impacts of hearts diseases in the health care system, treatment and management. It was very informative and made me inquisitive to go and read about various patho-physiological aspects of the disease and current trends in treating and managing the same. There was also an oncology based lecture on breast cancer and recent advancements in the same which opened up a whole new avenue for study and discussion.

The second presentation was organised by the institute of health science education, GPHC and the MOH, with the participation of the University of Calgary, Canada. A team of surgeons and senior nurses and a pharmacist were visiting and they covered a spectrum of lectures in screening methods, management, treatment, primary prevention, patient care for chronic kidney diseases. Dr. Nairne scott-Douglas, Medical Director, Southern Alberta Renal Program, needs to have a special mention for his very informative and interesting series of lectures on the same. He also gave many ideas and insights for discussion and debate on the same topic. His expertise and experience were very useful in the learning exercise.

The third presentation was organised by the Medical Council of Guyana and it was very vibrant in terms Lecture subjects and discussion after each session. The session by, Dr.C.Mahadeo on lung Cancer staging and treatment strategies, with additional information on extra cardiac thoracic surgery was very interesting even to the very beginners of medicine. Other participants were renowned Doctors from Guyana, like Dr.C.Bowman, Dr.T.Alexander, who were handling a very lively and exciting session.

All the CME lectures had one thing in common; the perspective of looking at medicine in totally different angles. The team participation and healthy discussion in each of the sessions were very helpful in enabling me discover new trends in the respective topics. Medicine is a field that requires continuous updating and lifelong learning for which these CME’s are very supportive. I am looking forward to attend more and learn more. I would also recommend attending these CME’s for my fellow student friends, and also request our university to sponsor or organise such ventures to help the young doctors in their learning.

Seminar on Advancing Neonatal Intensive Care Services in Guyana


Date: February 18, 2014

Guyana Public Hospital Corporation,
The Resource Center, Guyana
South America


Dr. Christopher Ian B. Cabaiza, Dip. Ger, DPAMS, FIAMs, FICS
TAU – Associate Professor
Head of Department : Pre Clinical


Dr. Narendra C. singh, Bsc, MBBS, FPCPC,FAAP, PCCM
Chief of Pediatrics
Associate Clinical Professor
Mc Master University