Talking about Science & Yoga

Yogis are convinced of the healing benefits of yoga, based largely on direct experience and their observations of others. While this may not meet the criteria of scientific proof, their assessments should be taken seriously because the practice of yoga directly cultivates the ability to perceive internal states. Very experienced teachers, who have gone deeply into their own practices, also develop an uncanny ability to observe others. This was demonstrated positively by Master Shree in our YTT classes. While the methodology of older studies may not be up to current standards, and more  rigorous research is needed, the situation is improving with more and better research being published in both India and the West. We can expect more evidence in the years to come from studies currently under way evaluating yoga’s effects on everything from cancer to back pain and Ayurveda herbs and food.

In the efforts to explain yoga’s benefits, yoga teachers and practitioners tend to speak of chakras (energy centers), prana (vital force), and nadis (channels through which prana flows). While these concepts are useful in understanding yoga, they are completely unpersuasive to most Western Scientists. Indeed, most Western Scientists find such explanations off-putting. Yet, some yoga teachers make outrageous claims for the system they promote or dress up their theories about how it works in pseudoscientific language

My perspective is to not get too caught up in the words or worry about the occasional far-fetched claim. If notions like chakras and prana turn you off, just think of them as metaphors.  There may not literally be an id, ego, and superego in the brain, but these psychoanalytic concepts can still be an interesting way to think about how the mind works. Good metaphors can help us understand, as yogis put it, ” what is.” The fact is, all kinds ofnutty things are said about yoga. Some critics will try to use the most extreme pronouncements of ancient yogic texts or of modern teachers to discredit the entire field.  Many of yoga’s benefits can be explained in ways that conform with Western ways of knowing. Here are forty ways that yoga facilitates better health, both as prevention and as treat­ment, that are supported by evidence.  I would like to end todays blogging with my belief that, Yoga is the martial art of our souls and our greatest enemy is within us , our EGO!

Therefore, Let us Aspire to Inspire Before we Expire….

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