Monday, May 14, 2012

The Science of Yoga by William J Broad: Part III Moods

Part III: Moods

I thought this was probably the most positive chapter of the book, examining how yoga can lift moods and refresh the human spirit. 

Mr. Broad states, "The studies began with the muscles (and how yoga can relax them), went on to study the blood (and how yoga breathing can reset the chemical balance), and eventually zeroed in on the subtleties of the nervous system (and how yoga can fine-tune it's status).  The discipline was found to lift and lower not only emotions but also their underlying constituents - the metabolism and nervous system."  (pg 78)

The author found first hand accounts here, in both the yogic community (through Amy Weintraub) and therapists.  Now here, as with his other chapters in the book, he found questionable practices amongst so called regulatory and scholastic organizations, and other authors who were perpetuating yoga myth., The grossest errors once again being that yoga can increase your metabolism and that breathing practices increase your oxygen consumption.  He debunked those in the first two chapters.

"Chaya, the physiologist in Bangalor who had practiced yoga since childhood, told me that the secret of weight loss had nothing to do with a fast metabolism and everything to do with the psychological repercussions of undoing stress, 'Yoga affects the mind - and desire,' she said, 'so you eat less'.  (pg 98)

I loved this statement toward the end of the chapter: The portrait of yoga that emerges from decades of mood and metabolic studies is of a discipline that succeeds brilliantly at smoothing the ups and downs of emotional life.  It uses relaxation, breathing and postures to bring about an environment of inner bending and stretching.   

Yes - "and environment of INNER bending and stretching".  Internal flexibility of the mind.  As I've been taught, Yoga is what you CAN'T see.

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