What’s so great about yoga?

Ask Dr. Sara Lazar at Harvard University. Following a running injury, she signed up for a few  classes and soon discovered she felt better physically, mentally, and emotionally.

And she became determined to figure out why.

She embarked upon some revealing brain-scan research that indicated a “clear correlation between meditation and the brain’s increased hippocampal size.” The hippocampus encompasses the brain’s ability to learn, recall and regulate emotions.

The implications appear clear: yoga and meditation are beneficial to cognitive and psychological process well after the exercises are complete. When she and her research team published their findings, Lazar noted, “Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day.”

Now yoga and meditation, though ancient in origin, are practices at the center of a new scientific discipline referred to as neuroscience, a blend of biology and psychology. This field investigates the connections between our nervous system, our interactions, and our emotional expression.

Those connections are not lost on the world it seems, as the United Nations declared June 21 this year as the first International Day of Yoga. Internationally, yoga is recognized for it’s now  common and integral role in our lives.

The mind-body connection has also gained ground in Western medicine, although the spiritual aspects of yoga are often dismissed. Neuroscience indicates that yoga and meditation can promote social transformation, one individual at a time. Yoga can reduce the anxiety that produces stress, judgmentalism, and a lack of empathy. All issues that science reveals are actually biologically ingrained over time.

The practice appears to undo that detrimental biological conditioning, at least as well as side effect-producing psychiatric drugs.

Yoga accomplishes much. It is a refreshing perspective that transforms, informs, and heals our brains as well as our bodies.

Read the full article here: Yoga and the Brain: A Vision of Possibilities