THE UNPLANNED BEGINNING
In January 1998, following a two week course on Yoga by Swami Bua of New York, a group of people began doing Yoga every Saturday morning in the premises of Sri Siva Vishnu Temple at Lanham, Maryland. These practices included physical yoga exercises, breathing exercises, and mantra-based meditation.
As more beginners wanted to join the practices, beginners training classes were held over 4 to 6 weekly sessions, each of duration 2 to 3 hours. Such sessions would cover both the practices and theory of Yoga, while the Saturday morning sessions were considered as a time for group practice. Such training sessions held were typically once or twice a year. On two occasions, between 2001 and 2003, upon the request of Rajdhani Mandir, a temple in Northern Virginia, Dr. C. Rajan Narayanan, the principal teacher at that time, also conducted these training sessions over 4 to 6 weeks. A weekend practice group also began in that temple.
Since Fall of 2004, Dr. C. Rajan Narayanan began teaching breathing and meditation techniques at the University of Maryland, College Park, one evening, typically on Thursdays from 6:30 pm. This was organized by a Student Association group.
The practices have not remained the same over the years. Various forms of practices from other traditions like Buddhism (Vipassana) and western mysticism (Rainbow Bridge of Alice Bailey tradition) have been included in the practices. Our recent research has added some mudras and dance steps with breathing techniques. From an initial hour or two, today the Saturday morning sessions at Sri Siva Vishnu temple extends 3 hours and 30 minutes from 7 am to 10:30 am. This growth of exercises, incorporation of various traditions, and the need to expand the duration of practice embodies in it the seed of a new school of thinking with regard to yoga – going to the roots of yoga (beyond the common thinking of yoga as primarily physical exercises) and going beyond the tradition of yoga (by incorporating exercises from other traditions).
THE SEEDLING OF LIFE IN YOGA FOUNDATION
Over the years, regular practitioners of Yoga have benefited significantly in physical and mental well-being. Some of the deep experiences of various participants resulted in a thought that a charitable, non-profit group should be formed to propagate the learning of these practices to wider audiences within and outside the Washington, DC- metro area.
On November 19, 2005 in Perryville, MD, practitioners of this Yoga met to discuss the benefits and implications of these various practices on the body, mind and spiritual domains. On December 5, 2005, a Yoga dinner was organized at the home of one of the regular participants. It was at this dinner that the question of certification and teacher’s training arose. It was seen as a critical element to bring this to others. The need for publication – books and audio/visuals was also there. It was here that a firm need for an organization was felt, culminating in the formation of the Life in Yoga Foundation on April 8, 2006. The Foundation was deeded as a Charitable Trust under IRS Code 501(c) (3) with the seven founding trustees.
OPERATION OF THE LIFE IN YOGA FOUNDATION
The Foundation is operated by volunteers and a Board of Trustees with by-laws for their election and operations as appropriate for a public charity. Board meetings are typically held on the last Saturday on every second month and is open to all.
MAJOR ACTIVITIES OF 2006
On March 2, 2006, a presentation on Yoga was made by one member of this group at the Washington Navy Yard to the employees of the US Navy. Over the weekend of March 24-26, starting Friday evening, a retreat for beginners called “Introduction to Yoga” was organized at the home of one of the regular participants in Silver Spring, MD.
On April 2, 2006, a day long advanced yoga session was conducted as a teacher’s training session. This is one of two sessions intended as a complete training routine for advanced practitioners of Yoga who have gone through the theoretical content of introductory yoga. The second session was held on July 4, 2006. Another session was held end of August and still another is planned for the first week of November.
On April 9, 2006 a new yoga session began in Gaithersburg, MD, organized by one of the regular participants. In the months of June and July, 2006, a six week program called Yogic Management of Asthmatic Problems was conducted.
On August 3, 2006, a weekly yoga session was started on River Road, Potomac, MD at 6:30 pm in the evenings. Another introductory yoga retreat is also planned between November 23 and 26 in Potomac, MD. However, for 2006, the current focus is on teacher training and publication.
PROGRESSION FROM 2007 TO 2010
Over the fall of 2007, DVDs were developed. During 2007 and 2008, the approach was to have two teachers' training session and two retreats each year. Since we were run on a donation basis, and there was not enough volunteer funding coming, and volunteers who were doing the task of arranging the retreats were getting burned out, in 2009 we adopted a course strategy with a recommended donation for each course. In 2009 June, we also formed the Life in Yoga Institute and in 2010 we have converted fully to fee-based courses. 2010 will also see the launch of Yoga Therapy course for Physicians
PROGRESSION FROM 2010 TO 2012
2010 saw a focused effort to bring yoga education to physicians and health care professionals. The quality of the programs has enabled Life in Yoga to establish credibility as a leading educational institution of yoga and the premier yoga voice in the medical community. To make this possible, fortuitously Dr. Dilip Sarkar, retired surgeon and medical school faculty, and Sat Bir Khalsa of Harvard University Medical School joined as faculty for the CME program. Dr. Arvind Nandedkar of Howard University College of Medicine and the Office of Continuing Education enabled the paper work to make the CME happen.
From 2010 to 2012, we have seen the program grow -- from 9 participants in 2010 to 35 in 2011; from a local event in the DC metro area to a national program and with offering in DC and Florida.
Life in Yoga has also aligned its 5-3-1 approach as working on five levels as understood in terms of medical terminology: musculo-skeletal system, biochemistry, genetic expression, vitality or energy system and immune system. The vision is to unfold in the decades to come a Unified System of Medicine that goes beyond the Integrative Medicine concept by identifying the common healing pathways in these five levels.
In 2012, Life in Yoga led an effort to bring together leading yoga institutes to form a worldwide accredication association seeking the correct representation of yoga and appropriate certification standards.
PROGRESSION FROM 2012 TO 2015
2012 to 2015 saw the fruitioning of the work begun between 2010 and 2012. During this period Life in Yoga Institute has become a permanent fixture in all the major health fairs conducted in the DC metro area.
In December 2014, Life in Yoga Institute became the first yoga organization to be awarded accreditation to provide CME credits to physicians.
On the side of research and content development, Life in Yoga unveiled the complete structure of the Unified System of Medicine as part of its presentation in June 2014 in Poland and thereafter in the June 21 2015 International Day of Yoga event in the National Mall in Washington DC.
Since getting accreditation Life in Yoga began developing additional courses for healthcare providers. On June 21 schedule of 10 such courses from August 2015 to October 2016 were announced.
Life in Yoga hopes to establish a Yoga Therapy Medical Center to serve as both a therapy and training center within the next year or two. A call to raise $2 million for the purpose has been put out to seek potential donors.
STEP UP IN 2016
2016 turned out to be a year of great surge with the establishment of a therapy clinic in Houston. Towards that were two preparations that happened in 2014: Bio-meridian measurement, and CME accreditation.
First, we began testing with Electro-Photonic Imaging (EPI) using Bio-well for Naadi (bio-meridian) measurements in July 2014. [This was an upgrade from the EAV machine we were using since 2012 which while instructive was not quick enough for practical application.] The resolution it gave, on root cause of health issues and ability to measure impact of any intervention instantly, were path breaking. This resulted, as noted earlier, in the announcement of the Unified System of Medicine on June 21, 2015. In 2016, we had a major break-thru with the use of Bio-well to help the recovery of a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patient who had been suffering for 35 years.
Second, having become the first yoga institution to be accredited to offer continuing medical education in 2014, groups that had interest in promoting health aspects of yoga to medical professionals started taking interest in us. Houston Chapter of Sewa International, a non-profit organization, invited us to offer a one-day CME course for physicians in Houston on July 16, 2016. This was the first CME course for Life in Yoga outside Maryland.
The key volunteer who organized the facility for the CME course and for publicity among local physicians, worked for a company where the 70-year old CEO was suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for the past 35 years. In the initial years it was mildly disruptive with occasional episodes of non-functionality for a few hours, but no more than a day, and not very frequent. Slowly, over the years, it became more frequent and longer than a few hours. In the meantime, he had established a good management team in his company, so that his non-availability would not create an issue. In the two years prior to this 2016 Houston visit, he was non-functional for about 20 days in a month. The volunteer organized a consultation with Dr. Rajan Narayanan for his CEO, Ramesh Bhutada, on July 17 2016. His case is public information now, given that he has spoken about his recovery on a radio show and several other public meetings.
The Naadi readings of Bio-well clearly indicated the zone of weakness in Naadi communication. A single yoga breathing exercise, within 15 minutes, brought him from a significant state of fatigue to no fatigue at all. In Mr. Bhutada’s words, his fatigue had been at a 60% level (relative to worst state) when he met, and after the exercise it was 0%.
Ramesh Bhutada, besides being the CEO of a mid-size company, was also a well-known philanthropist in the Houston area. Early on, after about 5 years of experience with Chronic Fatigue, he was advised that there was no solution in modern medicine. He had sponsored other yoga and non-conventional treatment providers over the previous 25 years to come to Houston. After his experience of this quick recovery with this yoga practice, he decided the next day, he will sponsor Life in Yoga Institute to establish in Houston.
The experience with Mr. Bhutada also revealed the difference between palliative and curative exercises of yoga, and a deeper understanding of what Bio-well was reading. What we had done for him in his first meeting was only a palliative exercise that immediately relieved the Chronic Fatigue. The reading shown by Bio-well was weakness in the (peripheral) nervous system which we addressed. Bio-well was reading the communication between the subtle (vibration/electromagnetic) and gross (physical) body. However, there were indicators in the Bio-well reading that there was deeper instability that was not determinate through the organ systems. From August to December 26, 2016 we applied a technique in yoga that works on the connection between the causal (spiritual) and subtle body that ensured his complete recovery after 5 months and 10 days on December 26th.
On September 11th, through his network, a presentation was made by Dr. Rajan Narayanan, at the India House in Houston, along with a panel of other well-known speakers like Dr. David Frawley and Raj Vedam. Ramesh Bhutada was invited to share his experience as part of Dr. Narayanan’s presentation. The audience size was between 350 and 400. With this publicity, and a philanthropic physician offering his office as a location, Life in Yoga Clinic opened in Houston.
On another note, between September 23rd to 26th, we conducted our 3-day Overview CME course in Maryland.
HIGHLIGHTS OF 2017
Beginning a training program in Houston to train people locally to continue the therapy program there. Four people were trained then, and two of them became successful and regular therapist who have continued the work through 2020 and beyond.
CME programs had two deviations from normal. We conducted our usual Overview CME courses in Maryland (May 5-8, Sep 8-11), but we added two more programs. Dr. Sarkar and Narayanan offered a new 2-day CME course called Yoga Therapy for Cardiovascular Disorders (July21-23). Another one was a one-day intro course on September 16 in Phoenix (AZ), which resulted in a local physician offering her clinic for Life in Yoga in 2018.
Dr. Rajan Narayanan also attended the Bioenergy Conference in St. Petersburg on July 1-2 and shared the research findings, which with the help of Dr. Korotkov was published in 2018.
Also we did a trial therapy program starting in September at the Beeler Manske Clinic in Texas City, which we monitored through January 2018.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS 2018
Establishment of clinic in Phoenix (AZ), even while clinic activities continued in Maryland and Houston.
Publication of Bioenergy and its Implication for Yoga Therapy -- can be accessed through the National Library of Medicine (PubMed): READ MORE
We saw more astonishing recoveries through use of mantras and subtle yoga practices.
Attendance for our CME course was reducing. Methods to recruit physician attendees were not cost effective.
Experience of no fee program at the Beeler Manske Clinic from the previous year had the same experience as that of the Clarksburg Medical Center in 2013. Free therapy does not work. It does not create patient incentive to keep practice and recover.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS 2019
Our research work continues, and we have found extraordinary success with autoimmune conditions and most conditions that are difficult to handle with allopathic medicine.
Our CME courses were cancelled for lack of sufficient enrollment.
We expanded and began a clinic in Delaware.
We saw more astonishing recoveries through use of mantras and subtle yoga practices.
In November of 2019, we were invited to do a clinic in London, UK. This was done in a Central London physician's office in the Harley Street neighborhood.
We have emerged primarily as a research organization with focus on clinical work that generates data to expand our research.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS 2020
While clincal work in Maryland, Houston and Phoenix continued in January and February, from March onwards all travel shut down due to COVID. On April 13 2020 we started a daily online (zoom with youtube streaming), chair-based yoga program that would be accessible to all irrespective of physical abilities. It was designed to address both the physical and mental health of people, given how people were reacting to COVID.
The session was planned for 5:30 pm every day (USA East Coast time), 7-days a week to ensure daily practice and targeted for body-mind-spirit relaxation at the end of the work day. Interestingly the bulk of the attendees were retired, senior citizens. The impact of their sleep quality, vitality and even blood pressure and other health issues resulted in a second session targeted at the West Coast population.
West Coast session was planned at 6 pm Pacific time and started from the month of June. We quickly discovered that half of the attendees were from India. Since the predominant attendance from the west coast were retired people, to keep it reasonable for India attendees we chose not to change the time for winter.
The unique aspect of using mantras, Chakra Vibrations for mental health, and Haim-Im-Um mantra to address respiratory health resulted in a grateful attendees who donated generously at the end of the year beating previous year revenues.
In September, we started our formal Measured Yoga Therapy certification training program with 20 attendees.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS 2021
Since the bulk of the attendees were senior citizens with our chair-based yoga, we thought we should offer morning sessions with more of mat-based Hatha Yoga practices. From February 2021 we began offering daily 7 am East coast time session that included Hatha Yoga approach.
In March of 2021, we started a second batch of Measured Yoga Therapy Training.
With expanded presence of trainees, we were now able to offer yoga therapy in 13 US locations, Toronto (Canada), Dubai and Hyderabad (India). However, our therapy resumed with some caution to ensure that our therapists were not exposed to COVID. Only those vaccinated were allowed to seek therapy.
2021 also saw accelerated work in our CYAI focus.