Although the Oriental systems of Yoga and meditation may seem at first to have some sort of mystical connotation and skeptics still remain incredulous about the results of practicing these techniques, there is a growing body of research supported by thousands of articles which beg to differ.
But how exactly can contorting the limbs and sitting in what is described as active mindfulness benefit you? Ask patients of COPD, Autism, breast cancer, psychosomatic illness and depression, and you will realize in how many ways practicing meditation and yoga can benefit both mind and body.
Parts of the brain grow when you meditate!
Yes, unbelievable but true. Morphometry tests carried out by a number of Neuroscience research institutes have provided irrevocable proof of this. You can access numerous articles regarding this on Pubmed, the online journal library of the National Institutes of Health. Tatia Lee et al, from the Laboratory of Neuropsychology at the University of Hong Kong, demonstrated that 21 weeks of Loving Kindness Meditation induces growth in the right angular and posterior parahippocampal gyri of the brain. This can help reduce feelings of anhedonia or lack of the ability to enjoy things or events.
Meditation helps neurons wire better
Not just growth, but the way neurons wire and fire can also be significantly altered by meditative processes. Eric L Schwartz and his team at the Athinoula A Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, have found that Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) affects the amygdala or the emotion controlling center of the brain. It was found that meditators can extend the benefits to emotional processing obtained during meditation even when they do not meditate, because such training induces learning that is process rather than task specific. In simpler words, you can keep your calm at all times and under all situations, your neurons just don’t activate your stress centers anymore.
The benefits of Yogic Asanas
Karen J Sherman and others at the Group Health Research Institute, Seattle, undertook a comprehensive review of literature on Yoga. According to the review, Yogic postures help mitigate stress related to depression and ameliorate fatigue experienced by cancer patients. They can also engender physical fitness in older patients, increase cardiovascular endurance, optimally align sympathetic/parasympathetic and cardiovagal function, increase pulmonary capacity, regulate glucose, bring down blood pressure and decrease the severity of epilepsy.
The whole medical community is welcoming a synergistic approach to healing and incorporating holistic treatments along with conventional treatment methods. Looks like bending your back does go a long way in keeping you healthy and happy!
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