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CLASSICAL YOGA

In one study, 1 group took part in a brain-training program while the 2nd group took part in yoga: movement & poses, meditation & breathing exercises. After 12 weeks, researchers discovered that all participants performed significantly better on thinking tests. However, the group that also practiced yoga & meditation showed improvements in their moods, they scored lower on an assessment of potential depression than those in the brain-training group, and they performed much better on a test of visuospatial memory, a type of remembering that is important for balance, depth perception and the ability to recognize objects and navigate the world [1]. The brain scans in both groups displayed more communication now between parts of their brains involved in memory and language skills. Those who had practiced yoga, however, also had developed more communication between parts of the brain that control attention, suggesting a greater ability now to focus and effectively perform tasks. [2]

MORE TRANQUILITY OF THE MIND

One of the main goals of yoga is to achieve tranquility of the mind and create a sense of well-being, relaxation, improved self-confidence, efficiency, increased attentiveness, lowered irritability, and an optimistic outlook on life. The practice of yoga generates balanced energy which is vital to the function of the immune system.[3]

ACTIVATES RELAXATION RESPONSE

Yoga encourages one to relax, slow the breath and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system and the flight-or-fight response to the parasympathetic system and the relaxation response.[4] The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rate, decreases blood pressure, lowers cortisol levels, and increases blood flow to the intestines and vital organs.

NERVOUS SYSTEM RELIEF

While stimulation is good, too much taxes the nervous system and yoga provides relief from excess stimulation and the stressors and hectic nature of modern life.[4] Restorative postures, savasana, pranayama, and meditation encourage pratyahara, a turning inward of the senses which enables downtime for the nervous system, the byproduct often being improved sleep.

RECOVER FROM TRAUMA & PTSD

An essential aspect of recovering from trauma is learning ways to calm down, or self-regulate. For thousands of years, Yoga has been offered as a practice that helps one calm the mind and body. More recently, research has shown that Yoga practices, including meditation, relaxation, and physical postures, can reduce autonomic sympathetic activation, muscle tension, and blood pressure, improve neuroendocrine and hormonal activity, decrease physical symptoms and emotional distress, and increase quality of life. For these reasons, Yoga is a promising treatment or adjunctive therapy for addressing the cognitive, emotional, and physiological symptoms associated with trauma, and PTSD specifically. [5]

References:
1. Prakash RS, Voss MW, Erickson KI, Kramer AF. Physical activity and cognitive vitality. Annu Rev Psychol 2015; 66: 769–797.
2. New study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, 2016;52(2):673-84. doi: 10.3233/JAD-150653.
3. Arora S, Bhattacharjee J. Modulation of immune response in stress by yoga. Int J Yoga. 2008;1:45–55.
4. McCall T. New York: Bantam Dell a division of Random House Inc; 2007. Yoga as Medicine.
5. Reibel DK et al. Mindfulness-based stress reduction and healthrelated quality of life in a heterogeneous patient population. General Hospital Psychiatry. 2001;23(4):183-192.

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AN IN-PERSON MEDITATION PRACTICE

SDF

IMPROVE FOCUS & PERFORMANCE

During a brief in-person meditation training program on cognition, scientists found that 4 days of meditation is enough to improve beginner meditators’ working memory, executive functions and their ability to process visual imformation. [6] Another study looked into the neural effects of an in-person meditation training that found that this led to activation in brain regions involved in self-regulation, problem-solving, adaptive behaviour and interoception (which is the sense responsible for detecting internal regulation responses, such as respiration, hunger, heart rate, and the need for digestive elimination). [7] Further, with continuous practice, addictive and unhealthy habits are more likely to loose their appeal.

REDUCE STRESS & ANXIETY

A little stress is good for you, however when it becomes overwhelming, it can take a toll on your health by increasing anxiety, depression & cardiovascular disease. In-person Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs can help manage and reduce psychological & physiological symptoms of stress [8]. An on-going study of in-person meditation training found that 69% showed that meditation practice alleviated symptoms of anxiety. [9]

IMPROVE SLEEP QUALITY

1/3 of people are said to experience difficulty falling asleep [10]. 1 out of 10 people experience regular insomnia [11]. A study done for insomnia found that sleep quality dramatically improved with eight weeks of in-person meditation training. [12]

LOVE DEEPER

Based on a study done for an in-person mindfulness-based relationship enhancement program, levels of relationship satisfaction in couples’ were elevated. Acceptance of one another, autonomy (the state of existing or acting separately from others) and closeness increased as relationship distress decreased. [13] Even 3 months after the study, couples reported still experiencing these improvements.

MORE COMPASSION FOR SELF & OTHERS

In a mindful self-compassion program, a test group reported feeling significant gains in self-compassion and these results were maintained at 6-month and 1-year follow-ups.[14] A study showed that people in a mindfulness group responded with more compassion toward others compared to that of a control group. They demonstrated this by more often giving up their seat for another.[15] Note: Self-compassion is conceptualized as containing 3 core components: self-kindness versus self-judgment, common humanity versus isolation, and mindfulness versus overidentification, when relating to painful experiences.

References:
6. Zeidan, F., Johnson, S. K., Diamond, B. J., David, Z., & Goolkasian, P. (2010). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and cognition, 19(2), 597-605.
7.Boccia, M., Piccardi, L., & Guariglia, P. (2015). The meditative mind: A comprehensive meta-analysis of MRI studies. BioMed research international, 2015.
8. Sharma, M., & Rush, S. E. (2014). Mindfulness-based stress reduction as a stress management intervention for healthy individuals a systematic review. Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine, 19(4), 271-286.
9. Chen, K. W., Berger, C. C., Manheimer, E., Forde, D., Magidson, J., Dachman, L., & Lejuez, C. W. (2012). Meditative therapies for reducing anxiety: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials. Depression and anxiety, 29(7), 545-562.
10. National Health Service (UK). (2013).
11. National Sleep Foundation (US). (2013).
12. Gong, H., Ni, C. X., Liu, Y. Z., Zhang, Y., Su, W. J., Lian, Y. J., … & Jiang, C. L. (2016). Mindfulness meditation for insomnia: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 89, 1-6.
13.Carson, J. W., Carson, K. M., Gil, K. M., & Baucom, D. H. (2004). Mindfulness-based relationship enhancement. Behavior therapy, 35(3), 471-494.
14. Neff, Kristin D., Germer, Christopher K. (2012). A Pilot Study & Randomized Control trial of the Mindful Self-Compassion Program, 10.1002/jclp.21923
15. Lim, D., Condon, P., & DeSteno, D. (2015). Mindfulness and compassion: an examination of mechanism and scalability. PloS one, 10(2), e0118221.

 

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