March 2, 2016
By Steve Grant
Ask a seasoned yoga teacher or yoga student about the ancient practice and they likely will tell you that the benefits of yoga are both physical and mental – and real. Stretch and strengthen muscles, keep the body limber and healthy, mellow the mind.
If yoga is so beneficial, wouldn’t it help people deal with many modern physical and mental maladies like lower back pain or workplace stress?
Long-time yoga professionals are certain that yoga does just that. But in today’s world, educators and health professionals in particular want scientific proof that yoga truly helps before they embrace its use in schools or therapy.
Which is why scientific research into the effectiveness of yoga has exploded in recent years, some of the cutting edge work being done in Connecticut and New England. “Science is the currency of the modern world,” said Edi Pasalis, director of the Institute for Extraordinary Living at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Ma., one of the nation’s leading yoga schools. “Kripalu sees objective scientific validation as a way to open the doors of our society’s major institutions such as education and health care and provide access to those who need the tools of yoga the most.”
At the University of Connecticut, Crystal Park, a professor of psychology and an expert in the psychology of stress and coping, is the lead scientist working to create a template to guide yoga studies for years to come. It is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. The idea is to account for the many differing styles of yoga, to bring uniformity to research, to develop a scientifically valid methodology to document whether yoga is useful in treating physical or emotional issues, and, if so, which yoga style is best in a particular situation.
My article on the burgeoning scientific research into the benefits of yoga appears in this month’s issues of Hartford magazine and New Haven Living magazine. Here is a link.