Meditation technique shows positive effect on HIV+ patients

14 Jul 2013

A unique pilot study by the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) has found that regular practice of Sudarshan Kriya meditation technique and breathing exercise, has worked positively with HIV affected persons who are still not on anti-retroviral therapy.

So far, Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) in clinical trials on patients suffering from non-communicable diseases showed a reduction of pain among cancer patients, and among addicts with opiate and alcohol dependency.

Depression was twice as common with people living with HIV than with the general population, which is compounded by stress and a sense of isolation from the community, Dr R S Paranjape, director of National Institute of Virology (NIV), said and decided to embark upon this study to understand whether breathing techniques can help people living with HIV as well.

A year-long scientific study was conducted, in which those living with HIV (who are not on medication yet) were taught breathing techniques and assessed to find whether their quality of life had improved.

Dr Nita Mawar, principal investigator of the study, approved by the scientific research and ethical committees said, “The pilot study involved a group of 61, with 31 persons living with HIV in the intervention arm where SKY was taught and the rest in the controlled group. The breathing exercise is the cornerstone of the Art of Living programme.

“We wanted to experiment whether this simple technique that utilises specific rhythms of the breath can increase their energy and stamina, enhance immunity and help improve their physical and mental health,” she said.

An additional six-day workshop of SKY to be practiced at home for 30 minutes daily by trained Art of Living teachers followed by a practice session for a week. The SKY practice is a standardized technique and includes 3 rounds of pranayam, Bhastrika and OM Chanting followed by rhythmic breathing of Sudarshan Kriya (meditation).

A 31-item questionnaire and CD4 count were used to document effect in both groups from baseline till three visits at four weekly interval in the 12-weeks study, Mawar explained.

The WHO–BREF HIV has 31 items and 6 domains for Physical Health, Psychological, Level of Independence, Social, Environment, Spirituality/ Religion/ Personal Beliefs. Quality of life assessed by a score developed by WHO has been tested and used in several studies, Mawar explained. People living with HIV benefited from the therapy and the results showed an improved quality of life, Mawar said.

QOL scores improved soon after the training indicating the need for sustaining the SKY practice, Paranjape said.

Courtesy : The Indian Express