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The scientific method has been at the heart of Western technological progress for over 100 years. Regardless where you live Vancouver, Victoria , Kamloops, Banff, Jasper, Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, London , Halifax, St Johns or Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, this method consists of formulating a hypothesis, generating one or more experiments to test this hypothesis, and recording observations gained through experimentation to falsify or validate the hypothesis.
Although it sounds complicated, it is a very simple method of testing ideas. Indian culture has long known of the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of Yoga.
This is because their civilization has had thousands of years to observe the changes it creates in those who practice. However, the west is too young for this type of cultural wisdom.
Therefore, the popular belief is that any claim must be tested and proven true by science to be accepted.
Now, it may seem insane to attempt to test whether or not someone is enlightened in a laboratory, and it is. That is why the positive benefits claimed by Yogis that science can test are limited to the body.
Testing physiological changes is a strong suit of modern medical science. So, what positive changes do we find in those practicing yoga?
First, and perhaps most obvious is that there will be an increase in strength and flexibility. As the postural practice of yoga uses the body’s own strength to stretch and work muscles it becomes its own workout. Consistent workouts promote increased strength, flexibility, and endurance.
Secondly, the increased heart rates associated with exercise help to strengthen the cardiovascular system. Elevated heart rates maintained safely over long periods strengthen the heart.
It is a muscle after all. This side effect also sends more blood to and from the extremities, promoting cellular repair and the release and removal of toxins and waste.
Thirdly, a good work out from a Yoga class can increase endorphin levels in the brain. Endorphins are brain chemicals that can promote feelings of calmness, happiness, pleasure, and connection. Increased (natural) levels of these chemicals also help to combat stress.
Lastly, the neurophysiological benefits are perhaps the most popular. In simple words, yoga can make you happier and less stressed. It does so by increasing endorphins and lowering cortisol in the blood (stress hormone).
Further, it helps the nervous system enter into the regenerative alpha frequencies more easily. This s associated with increased creativity and relaxed alertness.
Mind and Body
Yoga is a method of unifying the mind with the body. It also is a method of finely tuning the body to work as a functional whole. There is no doubt then why so many thousands of people worldwide, as well as several studies sing the praises to Yoga and its benefits and why yoga teacher training is on the rise.