The idea of practising Yoga,Tai Chi and mindful meditation is very popular as a natural resource to reduce stress, increase emotional balance and live in harmony. But, howright is that? How efficient they really are? Is it just a belief or has it been scientifically proven?
First of all, conscious breathing allows anyone to bring mental calm and clarity and it’s used in first aid protocols to help facing emergencies and acute stress episodes reducing this way the possibilities of post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) in victims. Just focusing on your breathing is a meditation that sometimes even emerges just by intuition and understanding this fact allows anyone to comprehend that this wisdom isn’t something that you learn through life but a resource available for every human being.
What we can learn and develop is discipline through Self-Love to practise it and improve our quality of life finding special techniques that may work better for specific problems. Many scientific researches support the application of meditation and yoga daily for health issues directly related to stress, anxiety and depression.
Meditation has proven to reduce physical and mental stress
Researches like those made by Narayan et al (1990)1 and Peng et al (1999)2 clearly showed how different meditation techniques had measurable positive results to reduce stress in patients under analysis.
The first of them was focused on the quantitative muscular relaxation during meditations with visualizations about the Chakras and the awakening of Kundalini Energy using Background healing music. The meditation was practiced for 30 minutes and the average of reduction of muscular activity was close to 58%.
The second research studied the variations of the heart rates, during Chinese Chi Kung and Indian Kundalini Yoga meditation techniques which were meant to produce quietness and relaxation. The study recollected information about heart activity of the volunteers not just during the meditation practice one hour long only but also for several hours of every person’s routine. Chi meditation consists of conscious breathing with visualization of a harmonic lotus at the level of the stomach and Kundalini Yoga protocol includes breathing control and Mantra chanting both with a basic meditative pose with legs crossed.
Researchers found out that there was a constant and really remarkable contrast between heart rate oscillations during meditation and out of it as changes were almost instantaneous after starting the meditation.
A natural medicine against anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders
So far we have talked about meditation as a tool to face stress and minor health problems, as all the subjects of those studies were healthy and most of them were also young. But fortunately, Meditation and yoga have also been successfully used against psychiatric disorders and as a palliative in some illnesses.
When it’s about clinical cases related to anxiety, we can find several researches made by Dr. David Shannahoff-Khalsa (2003)3, who has used several meditation techniques to face diverse psychiatric and neurological disorders. For now we’ll talk about the results obtained using these alternative resources against Obsessive-Compulsive (OCD) and OC Spectrum Disorders, as this is one of the most common psychiatric diagnosis, which is also really hard to heal.
For this experiment Dr. Shannahoff-Khalsa used 2 meditative methods for separate groups:
- Mindful meditation called Relaxation Response (Benson, 1975)4;
- Protocol designed by Dr. Shannahoff-Khalsa using Kundalini Yoga as Taught by Yogi Bhajan®, which included 8 basic exercises combining stretching, mantra chanting and conscious breathing, and 4 more techniques or kriyas that were optional. One of these meditations was specifically indicated against OCDs, which consists of breathing through the left nostril only as slow as possible (1 minute breath as the optimal speed) for 31 minutes.
These techniques were practised every day by the patients under control during a whole year, being tested every 3 months. Even the eldest volunteer, a 62-years old woman could almost bring to 0 the indicators of OCD (it’s important to remember that aging of nervous system makes recovery more difficult).
Kundalini Yoga Meditations against depression
Besides this and even some others investigations of Dr. Shannahoff-Khalsa which also treat depression, we could also find the research made by Kunjeswori Devi et al (1986)5, where a daily 1-hour long yoga routine (before breakfast) under supervision of a teacher was done. This yoga-set included Asanas and meditations combined with Pranayamas (breathing techniques). 110 volunteers were included for this research, from which 80 were diagnosed with depression.
After six months, 60% of the depressive patients showed improvement in their sleep patterns, digestive system, pulse rate, blood pressure, social interactions and became less irritable. These improvements were less prominent in those cases treated with imipramine.
As the application of these techniques was made for scientific purpose and against serious health problems, it’s common to find the use of 1-hour long sets which are really wonderful for anyone. If you want to start practising daily, you can do 10-Min yoga sets that can be also really effective to let harmony, health and happiness blossom in your life, in company with beautiful Mantras and therapeutic sounds to keep those good vibes for the routine.