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Meet the Innovators: Dean Ornish, M.D.

This medical doctor introduced millions to the heart-healthy benefits of yoga, meditation, and a vegetarian diet with his groundbreaking clinical research.

By Holly Hammond

Dr. Dean Ornish has introduced millions to yoga's health benefits through his famous studies showing that heart disease can be reversed through diet, meditation, group support, and yoga, published in Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease (Ballantine, 1992). Medicare is currently funding his Preventive Medicine Research Institute's research into the effects of his regimen on elderly heart patients at hospitals nationwide. He is also conducting research to see whether prostate cancer may be reversible by changes in diet and lifestyle, which would have implications for other forms of cancer.

Dr. Ornish has been studying yoga for almost 30 years with Shri Swami Satchidananda. Life magazine named Ornish one of the 50 most influential members of his generation. He was a physician consultant to President Clinton and has been featured in virtually all major media. He's also written five best-selling books.

"When I first began conducting research 23 years ago, we had to refer to yoga as 'stress management techniques.' The cardiologists said, 'We can't refer to a study that includes yoga—what are we going to tell patients, that we're referring them to a swami?' Since then, yoga has achieved much greater acceptance within American medicine as well as in the general population. I am very encouraged by the current state of yoga in America."

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