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THE SCIENCE BEHIND YOGA

Biological Understanding of Yoga and Meditation

Today, there is a paradigm shift around the concepts of health, illness, and treatment options. We are living in a time where medical physicians largely rely on technology and drugs to treat illnesses and diseases. Yet in the midst of the best health care system that western medicine has to offer, millions of people are seeking alternative health care (Barnes, 2004). In the recent past, efficacy and therapeutic effects of yoga have been reported in various medical journals using latest technology, suggesting that yoga has scientific basis. Moreover, millions of people are exploring and paying for such complementary treatment primarily out of their own pocket, which again emphasises and acknowledges the positive and healing effect of yoga.

What causes diseases - the role of oxygen

Disease arises when there is an imbalance in the body due to negative thoughts/energy. Oxygen is vital for life and life is about the breaths. A person who maintains the synchronization of breathing leads a healthy and disease free life.

Scientist have concluded that the chemical basis of energy production in the body is a chemical called ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). If the production of this ATP is disrupted in some way or the other, the result is lowered vitality, disease and premature ageing. Oxygen is considered critical for the production of this ATP and pranayam allows us to tap into this vital component.

The effects of yoga

In the last two decades research into meditation suggests that meditation can improve the immune response, the response of the sympathetic nervous system, modify cardiac symptoms, reduce pain, reverse heart symptoms and slow down the ageing process. These are some of the mechanisms by which these effects arise.

  • Response to hypoxia: Individuals practising yoga have generalised reduction in chemoreflex to hypoxia in laboratory conditions.
  • Muscle relaxation: stretching of muscles, which produce sensory stimulation thereby helps in relaxing muscle tension and restoring optimal muscle tone and posture. Localised relaxation of the head and neck areas again are the areas of proprioceptive stimulation, which not only improves respiration, but also stabilises emotion.
  • Brain blood flow: alteration of blood flow (particularly by head posture when large volume of blood surges the head and brain to provide increased distribution of blood to relatively starved part of the human body). By Pranayama, the elimination of CO2 and increased O2 uptake creates a stage of Kevela-Kumbhaka (apnoea-like condition), which helps concentration capability and to voluntary control over respiratory centre. This oxygenates areas in the brain (frontal, temporal, parietal and anterior cingulate gyrus) which have significant role in mental balance and concentration.
  • Blood pressure: voluntary controlled abdominal breathing practices reduce the raised blood pressure.
  • Consciousness: breathing and relaxation produces a sedative effect while deeper relaxation can produce temporary loss of ego and ecstatic vibration temporary phenomenological unity by merging the awareness of environment and self in one through fixed attention. This unity phase produces the stage of egoizing, which forms a buffer against anxiety provoking stimuli.
  • Yogic meditation influences the reticular-activating system and cortex to produce the most beneficial state of sub cortical alpha-regulated activity as confirmed by various electroencephalograph studies. This altered state of consciousness causes TROPHOTROPIC activity that can be used with a high degree of success in the treatment of psychosomatic disorder.
  • Emotions: meditation helps in relaxation and uplifts a person spiritually. Meditation like Kundalini yoga regulates the neurotransmitters, hormones and enhances coherence between the two brain hemispheres. Chanting mantras, meditation, rhythmic movements have a positive effect on our emotions. The parasympathetic system is activated which facilitates relaxation (Aftanas,2002; Kjaer, 2002).

Brain waves and Yoga

We can record the waves of electrical activity in the brain using the electroencephalogram (EEG).

  • Alpha waves: these represent a pleasant, calm, and positive resting state that appears to act as a bridge to awareness of the deeper states of consciousness. Along with the pleasant feelings, training alpha waves provides enhanced performance for athletes, golfers, singers, martial artists or anyone who requires speed and accuracy with their hands or body. Many meditation systems train Alpha waves through visualisations (meditation) or mantra repetitions (Tassi and Muzet, 2001; Young and Taylor,1998; Tetsuya et al. 2004) (MORE).Text in red will come here
  • Beta waves: with its constant mind-chatter has proven to be the most difficult area to master for most meditators, particularly those raised in our information overload age. Many people who try meditation give up in frustration at this seemingly impossible challenge.
  • Delta waves: these can provide a profound calming and deep meditation experience and appears to be related to the capacity for empathy and reaching out beyond one's self. Meditators who have a conscious experience of Delta report that the state is both profound and psychologically healing. However, very few meditation systems have been successful in training Delta in few dedicated people.(MORE)text in red will come here
  • Theta waves: these are at the brainwave frequency that we are producing in dreaming sleep and has been the goal of many meditation systems. It is recognised as the storehouse of emotions and the subconscious memories. Theta, as in our dreaming, is very creative and intuitive. However, it also carries the potential for terrifying images and emotions. Based on the Neuro observations, one can develop an approach to access Theta safely and use its wonderful creativity.




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