article: scientific studies of yoga and meditation
"Most of us who love our yogic practices and enjoy their physical,
emotional, and spiritual benefits don't worry about why or how they
work; we just do them. Some folks, however, can't rest without hard
evidence. They're part of the push toward finding out whether
alternative therapies, including yoga and meditation, have health
benefits that can be measured."
In researching medical claims by several lines of yoga, I came across
this article. The article discusses three individuals who have been
inspired by their practice of yoga and meditation to look deeper into
the efficacy of their selected discipline through scientifically
grounded studies. What I have drawn from this article and others like
it is that...
...there is no one solution that will provide a cure of all ills.
...each ailment must be addressed as a unique scenario.
...the tenets of western physiology do apply to eastern practices
(and we are becoming more and more able to specify the physiological
workings of eastern practices).
...that the very same thing that can cure a symptom can exacerbate it
when overdone or done incorrectly.
While the best guide to discernment is found within, it is wise to do
one's legwork as regards the medical claims of one's selected
discipline. Become an ardent student of physiology and anatomy, in
addition to spirituality, and understand how the methods of your
discipline work the body. Become familiar with other disciplines,
their claims and their workings, and be willing to compare and
contrast. Become strictly familiar with your own body, and with how
your discipline translates through it. Cast off fantasy and desire in
this respect, be willing to see and admit all sides of the discipline.
I really appreciated Vedanthan's ability to see all sides of his
discipline. From the article:
His studies so far seem to indicate that yoga helps to improve his
patients' sense of well-being in greater measure than the changes it
makes in their pulmonary conditions. The importance of this cannot be
dismissed: Earlier research indicates that asthma is more likely to
kill patients who have negative attitudes and poor self-image.
Vedanthan was pleased to see the patients in his published study
become more upbeat and watched as the majority of the non-yoga group
started yoga practice when the study endedand he was even more
pleased that some of those in the original study still practiced yoga
five or six years later.
"They are motivated by their success," he says, "and they continue."
Ever the Western skeptic as well as the yoga devotee, Vedanthan tells
his patients, "Add yoga to your medical regimen so your quality of
life improves. You can't say yoga is the answer for everything, but
it has a place. Do it, and it will help."
-end of excerpt-