Research and Studies
There are many exciting studies currently underway documenting physical, mental and emotional benefits of yoga, drumming, dance and meditation. The following are just a few interesting studies that can be found on the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health's Research pages. Please click on the links provided to access the full article. I would be very grateful to anyone who might know of good research that could be shared.
The Science of Dance: Seven Ways that Movement Makes Us Happier and Healthier
...Turns out that the benefits I was feeling have their roots in neurobiology. Scientists in the United States, Europe, Israel, and Australia have been studying both the physical and feel-good benefits of dance for many years. According to an article published last year in Scientific American, research indicates that dancing can boost our mood, self-esteem, and fitness levels; reduce stress; and even help us recover from trauma. “Studies show that dance increases levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin, and helps develop new neural connections, especially in regions involved in executive function, long-term memory, and spatial recognition,” writes study author Jason G. Goldman.
The Benefits of Drumming for Body, Mind, and Spirit
For those who are ready to reclaim this birthright (or exercise it more!), there are huge benefits to drumming, a few of which include
Huge stress relief. We live in a culture of stress, so way too often we have stress hormones pulsing through our bodies. Drumming shifts the brain from releasing stress chemicals to releasing endorphins and other healing chemicals.
Supreme presence. Drumming creates a powerful state of presence, which takes you out of processing the past or worrying about the future (and out of your stress response) and brings you instead into a state of freedom within the present moment, where everything is possible.
Easy meditation. Drumming induces a meditative state in a way that is really fun and happens without effort. In more subtle forms of meditation, there can be a struggle to focus the busy mind. When you drum, it’s hard not to focus on the rhythm, because the vibration is powerful and all-encompassing.
Balance. Drumming brings your biorhythms into sync. From your heart to your brain, major organs and systems fall into a pattern of entrainment where rhythms are aligned. This helps your systems to function optimally, which means that you are functioning optimally.
Boosted immune system and more positive emotions. Research shows that drumming produces an elevated mood state, enhances immunity, and improves social resilience.
Joy, joy, joy. With the release of feel-good chemicals, increased energy, and physical and energetic balance, drumming leads to simply feeling really good and full of happiness.
Loving-kindness meditation increases social connectedness.
The need for social connection is a fundamental human motive, and it is increasingly clear that feeling socially connected confers mental and physical health benefits. However, in many cultures, societal changes are leading to growing social distrust and alienation. Can feelings of social connection and positivity toward others be increased? Is it possible to self-generate these feelings? In this study, the authors used a brief loving-kindness meditation exercise to examine whether social connection could be created toward strangers in a controlled laboratory context. Compared with a closely matched control task, even just a few minutes of loving-kindness meditation increased feelings of social connection and positivity toward novel individuals on both explicit and implicit levels. These results suggest that this easily implemented technique may help to increase positive social emotions and decrease social isolation.
Your Brain on Meditation
For a study published in the journal Psychological Science, a group of researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, enrolled 48 undergraduates in an experiment. Half of the subjects practiced mindfulness four days a week for two weeks, while the other half took part in a healthy nutrition program.
Researchers found that in the group that meditated, the students’ working memory actually improved, while their habitual mind wandering started to decrease. They also had higher GRE verbal scores, which jumped on average from 460 to 520 in only 14 days.
“We had already found that mind wandering underlies performance on a variety of tests, including working memory capacity and intelligence,” UC Santa Barbara graduate student Michael D. Mrazek told The New York Times.
In short, the meditation group was better able to focus on ideas and remember facts without getting distracted as easily.
Laughter yoga versus group exercise program in elderly depressed women: a randomized controlled trial
Laughter Yoga founded by M. Kataria is a combination of unconditioned laughter and yogic breathing. Its effect on mental and physical aspects of healthy individuals was shown to be beneficial.
First published: 16 September 2010, https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.2545,
Mahvash Shahidi, Ali Mojtahed, Amirhossein Modabbernia, Mohammad Mojtahed, Abdollah Shafiabady, Ali Delavar, Habib Honari
The Chakra System as a Path to Creating the Life You Want
The chakras are often thought of as a systemic ladder to higher consciousness. Step by step, building from the ground up, we open the liberating current,to gain greater degrees of freedom, love, openness, awareness, and wisdom. To aid that process, there are numerous yoga poses, bioenergetic movements, and breathing exercises to dissolve blockages and channel the charge of your life force into your chakras. The result is a kind of awakening that doesn’t go back to sleep.
I’ve been teaching the liberating current for over 40 years. It’s been the thrust of most major spiritual traditions, and it’s tried and true. And for as many decades, we’ve been collectively raising our consciousness through a spiritual revolution that we thought would change the world.
And while I believe it does make a difference to the collective evolution of consciousness, it is quite obviously not enough. The world needs something more from us. It needs us to bring that higher consciousness back down to the earth plane, so that we really can make a difference.
For the last 15 years, I’ve also been teaching the downward current through the chakras. It begins with the connection to our highest source, then moves into visualization and communication of our vision, down into the relationships needed, generates the power to do what we have to do, the pleasure and fun in creating, and finally, into full manifestation on the earth plane.
This is an entirely different journey. We have blocks here, too, which we experience as resistance. Resistance to speaking out, resistance to staying focused, resistance to getting down to the nuts and bolts required to bring something into completion. It may even be resistance to focusing on just one or two things at a time. This is also a spiritual path, for it is the manifestation of our spiritual work on the earth plane.