A practicing catholic, Dr Shirley Telles is doing research on ‘effect of yoga on human body’ for last 30 years.
With 176 publications to her credit, she is a scientist of international repute who can speak of pharmacokinetics of medicine and effect of yoga in the same breath. She can also explain the teachings of Christ and the concepts of dhayana (meditation) dharna, (concentration) and samadhi with ease.
No wonder she was picked up by Baba Ramdev to lead his research wing on yoga at Patanjali Yogpeeth.
As director of research, her current job is to decode the scientific aspects of yoga on human health and society.
“Yoga as medicine is a possibility in near future. The day is not far off when all the scientific effects of yoga on human body can be decoded,” says Dr Shirley when Hindustan Times caught up with her on the sidelines of a seminar on ancient art of healthy living.
“Yoga is something which not only affects human being physically but mentally, socially and spiritually. We all know that. Only the authentic scientific validation is awaited and we are working on it,” she says while throwing light on what led her to yoga.
“It was rather accidental. I was offered to pursue research on coma, which I found very boring and so my guide introduced me to yoga. And the rest they say is history.”
Insisting that her religion was never a hindrance in what she pursues as passion, Dr Shirley insists that yoga has in fact given her the strength to focus on her prayers.
Those who dub yoga as communal must study its scientific benefits, she says.
A votary of yoga in school curriculum, she is willing to help the state government in designing the syllabus for various classes, like she has done for Patanjali Yogpeeth.
A regular at national and international conferences on yoga, she has been the recipient of several awards such as the John Templeton Foundation Award and a Fulbright Fellowship.
She has also worked with Indian army on a project aimed at making skill activities better through yoga and meditation.
Claiming that clinical studies done at Patanjali Yogpeeth have proven that if safely practiced, breathing exercises such as ‘Kapalbhati’ and ‘Anuloma Viloma’ could not only improve memory and attention but also reduce snoring which is a widespread problem no one like to talks about.
The breathing exercises also reduce obesity and balances blood pressure.
“At Patanjali Research Institute we are working with top universities and medical institutes such as Harvard and MD Anderson Cancer Centre to authenticate the benefits of yoga. In UP, the tie-up is with Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS),” she says.