Over the course of the past several decades, Eastern and Western medical ideas and philosophies have interacted in ways never before possible in history. However, where they seem to differ the most is that most Eastern philosophies emphasize the preventative side of health, where as the Western has focused more on treatments, surgeries, and drugs after the person is sick.
Naturally, with the huge rise in popularity of yoga in the West, Western science has started to investigate this practice which comes to us from a time before Hippocrates and his oath. In this article we will look at various scientific findings regarding yoga and meditation.
With any sort of athletic activity, it is difficult to judge ultimately what the influence of that activity is on the overall health of the person, because we all have different bodies with different strengths and weaknesses. However, there are several key findings across the board regarding yoga that are fascinating and only confirm what the ancient yogis began telling us so many years ago.
Stress and Tension
According to many studies done, some with women, women waiting for radiotherapy, pregnant women, and men with different backgrounds, yoga has been found to reduce stress, anxiety and tension. Stress and tension are very detrimental to our health, and in study after study, doctors have found the practice of yoga to be more efficacious in alleviating stress and tension than not practicing it.
Other Findings About the Body and Yoga
According to the NYU Medical Center’s website, a study was done on people with carpal tunnel syndrome. Half of the patients were given yoga practice and the other half were given wrist splints to wear for eight weeks. Yoga was found to be more affective than the splints.
In another study, women with fibromyalgia were given the choice of an eight week yoga course. The women who completed the course reported a reduction of symptoms including anxiety, stiffness, fatigue, and pain.
What Science Says About the Affects of Meditation on the Brain
A recent investigation undertaken by the Massachusetts General Hospital studies sixteen patients over the course of an eight week yoga, meditation, and mindfulness program. They were trying to find the affects of these practices on the brain. They found that the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning, became more dense in its gray matter. They also found that in the amygdala, the part of our brain that deals with stress and anxiety, gray matter density was reduced.
Yoga has been proven to reduce stress and tension, as well as the symptoms for a variety of different physical ailments such as carpal tunnel syndrome and fibromyalgia. We have also seen that science has proven that meditation even changes our brains for the better, allowing us more learning and memory power, and reducing our stress and anxiety.
Let’s hope that science can continue to study the manifold benefits of yoga and meditation practices, and that the divide between Eastern and Western medicine can be bridged, for greater understanding of ourselves.
About the Author
Benjamin Norris is a journalist from Bristol, UK, who spends his days lecturing Indian Cultural History at one of Europe’s leading Architecture Universities. He is particularly fascinated by global spiritual cultures and practices, and by many subjects of an esoteric nature. His writing often reflects these interests, and he enjoys little more than delving deeply into unknown worlds of research. For more articles on the benefits of yoga and meditation, visit Omharmonics.com.