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Meditation on yoga

Advocates of yoga have maintained that it does not cure or treat a disease, instead it lowers anxiety and helps people cope with their symptoms.

health-and-fitness Updated: Mar 01, 2009 00:27 IST
Sanchita Sharma
Sanchita Sharma
Hindustan Times

Drew Barrymore, Madonna, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Aniston, Naomi Campbell, Julia Roberts, Charlize Theron, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicholas Cage… these are just some of the Hollywood actors who have flirted with yoga in the recent years.

No, this column is not about their tryst with desi postures, or even the many-flavoured yoga options available in Hollywood, from the better known Ashtanga and Hatha yoga to Kundalini, Karma yoga, Liberation and even Dancing Shiva yoga.

I mentioned Hollywood simply because going by the popular mood, I’ve decided to be even more proud of things Indian that get validation from an industry more plastic than the all the plastic clogging drains of Delhi and Mumbai.

Now that Hollywood’s admiration of yoga is established beyond doubt, I’ll move on to the news you can use. Yoga was found to improved mood and reduced fatigue, not only in healthy women but also in women who are being treated for breast cancer.

Just 75 minutes of yoga over 10 weeks reduced depression by 50 per cent and improved feeling of well-being by 12 per cent, reported a study in Psycho-Oncology a couple of days ago.

Advocates of yoga have always maintained that it does not cure or treat disease, but lowers anxiety and helps people who are ill tolerate their symptoms better.

Yoga’s calming effect is fairly well established in India, but this study underlined that it can help even those in physical pain and mental stress. Since the patients in the study had different levels health, they were asked to do simple postures, with props such as cushions, bolsters and blankets used for support to achieve total relaxation with minimal physical effort.

There’s more. Another study reported this week that stressed students could benefit from simple meditation in the days leading up to exams. The study, reported in the medical journal, International Journal of Psychophysiology, said meditation can help students buffer themselves against the intense stress of student life and improve brain function. The added benefit was that the students who meditated also felt less sleepy and irritable.

The study investigated the effects of 10-weeks of transcendental meditation on a ‘Brain Integration Scale’, electrodermal habituation to a stressful stimulus, and sleepiness in college students in Washington D.C. Ten weeks later—just before final exam week – the meditating students scored higher in brain tests, reported less sleepiness and were less jumpy and irritable.

To put the accuracy of the ‘Brain Integration Scale’ scores in perspective, the study mentioned that professional athletes (Norwegian) who have won gold in the Olympics and corporate honchos (US) have high scores than others. It concludes by stating that increasing one’s Brain Integration Scale scores “can provide a new basis for success, a new foundation to deal with the challenges we face in an ever-accelerating world.”

Students, meditate on this.