Probably because of my experience in the health fields, but I have been curious about how, where, and when medical science and yoga intertwine. I am always heartened when I see evidence of western medicine’s growing curiosity about yoga and how and why it is so effective in helping yoga practitioners manage sometimes crippling and even fatal diseases. This growing curiosity will surely result in more study and more dollars spent on researching alternative healing techniques. With more research documenting the benefits the ultimate result will be more people benefiting from the practice and this gives me HOPE!
I want to share with you some recently published studies about the effects of yoga and meditation on health and quality of life. These are promising times and I can’t wait to see the outcomes of the newer studies that are ongoing!
A recent article in the New York times discussed research results published in The New England Journal of Medicine about the effects of Tai Chi on Fibromyalgia. The results were reported as “impressive” and one physician remarked on the significance of such positive results using a method that was so safe and had no side effects and no complications. A link to the full article is at the end of the post.
Years of world wide research has shown that yoga can be used to control physical functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, metabolism, body temperature, brain waves, and skin resistance. This can result in improved physical fitness, lower levels of stress, and increased feelings of relaxation and well-being.
Yoga and meditation has been used by cancer survivors to overcome sleep problems. Nearly 1/3 of the participants in a recent Wake Forest University School of Medicine study slept soundly after practicing yoga 2 times a week for 1 month. After only 8 yoga classes these survivors could rest peacefully without using sleep agents!
Recent studies at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine demonstrated the benefits of yoga for cancer patients and people with carpal tunnel syndrome. Specifically, middle-aged people who regularly did yoga lost weight over 10 years while a non-yoga group gained, on average, more than 13 pounds.
A study in China on the levels of stress hormones in individuals who received training in meditation + progressive relaxation + exercise vs. exercise, relaxation, and wellness education alone reported that after five days of training in meditation, students had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva after a stress test.
A study conducted by Dr Sung Lee and published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine in July 2004, showed that with 3 months of twice weekly Dahn Yoga classes, practitioners scored better in quality of life indicators such as physical functioning, reduction of pain, vitality, emotional functioning, and social/interpersonal relationships.
Currently the Korea Institute of Brain Science is working with physicians and scientists in Korea and Japan to study the effects of the meditation we teach at Body + Brain. Brain Wave Vibration, a form of meditation, developed by Ilchi Lee and practiced by more than 200,000 people worldwide has shown incredible increases in the amount of serotonin in the brain. This neurotransmitter is so important in the normal functioning of the brain in areas such as mood, sense of well being, and peacefulness.
IBREA now has a call out for research participants in a US based study on the effectiveness of Dahn Yoga and Brain Wave Vibration and with its commitment to the UN Millennium Development Goals, this research will spread worldwide.
All signs are pointing to a brighter and healthier tomorrow with more and more people becoming aware of the importance of mind and body harmonization not only for physical health, but emotional and spiritual health as well!
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