Central Council for Research in Yoga & Naturopathy under Ministry of AYUSH hosted today a webinar on Yoga and Immunity titled VIHARA with an aim to deliberate the various aspects of immunity. Experts included Clinical Immunologists, Researchers, clinicians, and Yoga & Naturopathy physicians participated in the webinar.

Ranjit Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH made the opening remarks on the importance of immunity in the new normal conditions due to COVID 19 and talked about yoga and immunity. Dr Raghavendra Rao, Director, CCRYN gave a brief overview of the program and welcomed all the speakers and attendees to the event.

In the technical sessions, renowned Immunologist from Bengaluru Dr Chandrashekara S talked about the beneficial and harmful effects of inflammation and how this needs to be moderated to get the desired results. He said Immune homeostasis is the corner stone of good health and Yoga and Naturopathy helps in restoring the balance. He explained how situations like infections, stress, and acute exercise can have deleterious effects on immunity and showcased evidence by using yoga approaches in autoimmunity. He emphasised on need for immune stabilization instead of immune boosting.

Dr Akshay Anand, Professor, Neuroscience Research Lab, Department of Neurology, PGI, Chandigarh threw light on the research with various yoga modules that have shown a significantly increased DHEAS, Sirtuin1 and telomerase activity with decreased cortisol and IL-6 levels in addition to decreasing DNA damage and oxidative  stress. He recommended for more studies on animal models in combination with cell culture based models to dissect the immunity based changes by identifying cellular as well as molecular pathways. Dr Rima Dada, Professor, department of anatomy, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi gave a wider view on evidence based studies on yoga. She enlightened the audience on the beneficial role of yoga in reducing the sperm DNA damage, oxidative stress, male infertility, improving the mitochondrial integrity to the  modulation of gene expression in glaucoma, depression and aging.

Dr Gururaj Rao , Director, ICREST talked about epigenetic changes, gene expression  and how to measure epigenetic changes in lab settings. Dr. Jyothsna Rao, Director, ICREST focussed on types of immunity and stimuli that trigger chronic inflammation and the effect of stress on immunity and reactivation of latent viruses along with various methods for quantifying immunity. Dr Raghavendra Samy shared his study on the role of yoga in Antarctica where yoga was offered as an intervention to Indian expeditioners to Antarctica. The outcomes on psychological, biochemical, serum markers and gene expressions showed better adaptation to the extremely harsh environmental conditions through yoga practices.

Dr Radheshyam Naik, Head, Medical Oncology, HCG Hospitals threw light on  the link between immune system and cancer and the  research involving immune-oncology with potential areas like tumour infiltrating lymphocytes , tumour mutational burden, conversion of cold tumour to an immunogenic hot tumour using chemotherapy, radiotherapy, etc. and role of yoga in modulating antitumor immune response. Dr Amritanshuram, Head CAM program, HCG Hospitals talked about the concepts of yoga and highlighted the beneficial role of yoga in psychological and immune outcomes on cancer survivors and explained about how yoga works on the mind.

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