The Self-Directed Biological Transformation Initiative and Wellbeing

Looking at the benefits of an Ayurvedic retreat over a holiday

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It is always lovely to read research Deepak Chopra has been involved in. As many of you know, Deepak Chopra is an Indian American author, public speaker, alternative medicine advocate, and a prominent figure in the New Age movement. Through his books and videos, he has become one of the best-known figures in complementary and alternative medicine, setting up the Chopra Centre for Wellbeing in 1996 in San Diego. He was one of the researchers for this study which looked at The Self-Directed Biological Transformation Initiative and wellbeing.

This study was a quasi-randomized trial comparing the effects of participation in a 6-day Ayurvedic system of medicine-based comprehensive residential program with a 6-day residential holiday at the same retreat location. The intervention addressed physical and emotional well-being through group meditation and yoga, massage, diet, adaptogenic herbs, lectures, and journaling. Participants in the Ayurvedic program showed significant and sustained increases in ratings of spirituality and gratitude compared with the holiday group, which showed no change. The Ayurvedic participants also showed increased ratings for self-compassion as well as less anxiety at the 1-month follow-up. Whilst having a holiday can be very beneficial for emotional and physical wellbeing, therefore, it would appear that Ayurvedic retreats can offer the additional benefits of increases in self-compassion, gratitude, spirituality and greater anxiety reduction.

Heather Mason

Founder of the Minded Institute, The Minded Institute

Heather Mason is a leader in the field of mind-body therapy and the founder of Yoga Therapy for the Mind. She develops innovative methods for mental health treatment drawing on her robust educational background including an MA in Psychotherapy, an MA in Buddhist Studies, studies in Neuroscience and a current MSc in Medical Physiology.. She is also a 500 RYT, a yoga therapist and an MBCT facilitator. Heather offers various professional trainings for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals and therapists, lectures around the world, and delivers training to medical students. She also develops protocols for different client populations by translating cutting edge research from the psycho-biology and neuro-biology of stress into yoga practices, breathwork, mindfulness interventions and therapeutic holding. Further she is involved in research on the efficacy of these practices, holds the annual UK yoga therapy conference and is blazing the trail for the integration of yoga therapy into the NHS