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News ->Experts sceptical of Swami Ramdev's claims

(22 August 2006)

Swami RamdevAfter a month long series of UK Yoga workshops this summer, Swami Ramdev - the guru of Yoga ( the ancient art of purification and strengthening of the body, mind and soul) and Pranayam (a series of breathing techniques combined with Aasanas [postures] from ancient Indian Vedic Sciences) - returned to India safe in the knowledge he will be back in the UK to hold a second series. Health experts in the UK, however, caution followers about throwing out modern medicine in favour of yoga and pranayam for the treatment of hyper tension, diabetes and cancer.

One of Swami Ramdev's Yoga & Pranayam workshops.Held at venues in Ilford, Leicester, Bolton and Harrow, thousands of British Asians attended the yoga and pranayam workshops to experience yoga at the hand of a master whose mission is to “eradicate mental and physical illness” world wide. The main impetus behind this UK Yoga tour was to raise funds for the ‘Patanjali Yog Peeth (UK) Trust’, a British registered Charity and an offshoot of the Patanjali Yog Peeth in India. Attendance to each workshop was gained through donor passes, costing anywhere from £50 to £350, with all monies raised going to support the activities of registered charities in India and ‘Patanjali Yog Peeth (UK) Trust’.

Swami Ramdev, is founder of the Patanjali Yog Peeth, a yoga centre in Northern India, dubbed as ‘the World’s largest Yoga Institute’. It currently provides facilities for intensive and extensive scientific research and development into yoga and ayurveda as well as educational degree and diploma courses to over 1,000 students.

Swami RamdevThe activities of the Patanjali Yog Peeth are not without controversy though. Their website claims "His Holiness Swami Ramdevji Maharaj is first, in the world health history, to use freely available Pran (Oxygen) as a medicine and in turn succeeds to cure thousands of grief stricken persons suffering from lethal diseases like Diabetes, H.B.P., Angina, Blockages in Arteries, Obesity, Asthma, Bronchitis, Leucoderma, Depression, Parkinson [sic], Insomnia, - Migraine, Thyroid, Arthritis, Cervical Spondalities [sic], Hepatitis, Chronic Renal Failure, Cirrhosis of Liver, Gas, Constipation, Acidity etc. which are still a challenge in modern medical science." The group also claims to have developed an ayurvedic cure for cancer.

Dr Kat Arney, Cancer Research UK science information officer, said: "It is important to think about cancer in a holistic way, aiming to treat physical problems as well as maintaining general wellbeing. But there is absolutely no scientific evidence whatsoever to show that any of the Swami's remedies work to cure cancer, and they have not been shown to be safe or effective in clinical trials.

"As a general rule, people should be sceptical of any alternative or complementary therapy claiming to cure cancer, especially as some may actually be harmful rather than beneficial due to a lack of safety testing and quality control."

"But there is a place for some types of complementary treatments in improving quality of life for people with cancer. For example, yoga can help to relieve anxiety and insomnia for people with cancer. And we know that massage, visualisation techniques and aromatherapy can help to improve the quality of life for cancer patients alongside modern medical treatment."

You can find out more about complementary therapies for cancer at

Similarly, while acknowledging the well-being benefits of yoga, Cathy Moulton, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK said: "There are a number of complementary therapies that may be of potential benefit to people with diabetes. However often there is a need for more research to explore the real benefits to people living with the condition. What is far more important for people with diabetes and those who may be at risk is eating a healthy balanced diet - low in fat, sugar and salt, and containing plenty of fruit and vegetables - and, of course, getting regular physical activity and taking any prescribed medication."

Diabetes prevalence in the UK’s South Asian population is 20 per cent compared to 3 per cent of the general population. Further information about dealing with diabetes can be found at



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