Sudarshan Kriya and Bipolar Disorder
For those who continue to challenge a key concern raised many times on this blog that practicing Sudarshan Kriya can produce harmful effects in the practitioner, and for those who in the same breath claim that sufficient research has been done to deem it to be safe, let us consider the practice of SK with regards to those who suffer from bipolar disorder.
The following accounts are taken from Art of Living websites, and represent the current views regarding bipolar disorder:
Q: Can people diagnosed with bipolar condition do Sudarshan Kriya or the Silence Course?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I don’t advice them to attend the Silence Course, but they can attend the Basic Course and do everything except Sudarshan Kriya. Simple meditation, pranayam and some yoga is very good for them. They should do Sri Sri Yoga.
Comorbid psychiatric illness. Yoga breathing—particularly Bhastrika and rapid cycle breathing—may trigger manic episodes in patients with bipolar disorder. Those with type II bipolar disorder whose mood swings are well-controlled may do yoga breathing under supervision if they avoid Bhastrika and rapid cycle breath forms.
Now, consider that in his defamatory letter (which is reproduced here on this blog) Swami Sadyojatha named a former AoL teacher who he claimed was a bipolar sufferer, it is evident from reading this letter that Art of Living encouraged this former teacher to practice SK in spite of her allegedly suffering from SK. Indeed, the Swami makes it sound as if SK was the one thing which helped her to control and compose herself, and that when she wasn’t practising, that’s when her troubles were at their peak.
What this tells us is that at least up to the time the letter was written, August 2010, Art of Living were unaware that SK can be harmful to those who have been diagnosed as suffering from bipolar. In other words, this clearly shows that insufficient research had been done between 1982 and 2010 to determine at least one of the harmful effects of SK, and that this only came to light subsequently. Because since 1982, Art of Living have been publicly teaching this technique to anyone who attends their Basic Course – without taking into consideration if they suffer from bipolar.
I can further add to this that during the entire time I was with Art of Living, I had (and still have) a friend who suffers from bipolar and who I was trying to convince to do the Basic Course. I told many teachers about his condition, and they all urged me to bring my friend to the course because they strongly believed that SK would help to treat bipolar.
Yet now all of a sudden we are being told that SK is not suitable to those who suffer from bipolar. If this is the case, then one cannot help but wonder, with all this purported research Art of Living claim to have done on this technique how on earth did it take them nearly 30 years to discover this? And if it took 30 years for them to discover this one thing, what other harmful effects still remain to be discovered? Can they honestly still claim that “side effects, if any, are only positive”?
ADDENDUM 1 (June 11, 2012)
Q: Specifically, why should those who suffer from bipolar not practice SK?
Q: Can someone show the scientific research which has been carried out which concludes that SK is not suitable to those who suffer from bipolar?
ADDENDUM 2 (June 11, 2012)
After reading “ex teacher’s” comment (which became the following post, Would You Put Your Life in the Hands of People Like This?), I wish to acknowledge that “ex teacher” is in actual fact CORRECT about what the Sudarshan Kriya notes say with regards to bipolar disorder. Specifically, the notes mention that those who suffer from manic depression (which later came to be known as bipolar disorder) should NOT practice Sudarshan Kriya.
Based on this information, Art of Living have actually presented us with TWO conflicting views regarding the practice of Sudarshan Kriya. On the one hand we are told that “officially” those who suffer from bipolar disorder should NOT practice Sudarshan Kriya (see quotes above and now the SK notes), whilst on the other hand one of the seniormost teachers in Art of Living, Swami Sadyojatha, has told us something radically different in his letter (link above) where he defames the former teacher which he accuses of suffering from bipolar. A letter which must have been sanctioned by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar himself otherwise it would not have been allowed to be published. So was this really means is that RS is contradicting himself on something which is an extremely serious issue. In other words, he is lying.
All of which still doesn’t help us, because we still don’t know the truth about SK with regards to bipolar, and most likely we will never know.
Just to be clear on this, all other questions raised here still stand.