A new film investigating the science of yoga shows the remarkable biological benifits of yoga practice. In it top proponent of “nurture over nature” Bruce Lipton, ex professor of biology, and now a leading visionary in what is know as New Biology, suggest that yoga represents the cutting edge of modern evolution of mankind.
About half of the film is dedicated to inspiration talk about how yoga helps its practitioners “feel good” and the film itself admits that the chakra system, for instance, apart from being invisible, cannot yet be measured by any medical device. Lipton has said that sometime in the 1980s he abandoned his lifelong atheism when he came to believe that the way cells functioned demonstrated the existence of God. Not much of a scientific statement.
Apart from these metaphysics the film presents in an objective and plausible style – it documents indisputable scientific support for yoga. A main narrator is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. His professional position and convincing, level headed clarity and intelligence shines through.
Ananda Kutir – one of the the biggest privileges of my life
I attended yoga courses at the Ananda Kuitir Ashrama in Rondebosch East throughout much of the 1990’s. My teachers were the legendary Swami Parvati and Yogesh, Motherswari, steeped in the traditions of Sivananda yoga, as taught to them by his disciple Swami Venkatsenanda. Our literature was bound as “The Science of Yoga”. An ex medical doctor Swami Sivananda was the first 20th century guru that was grounded in a sensibility that resonated with Western thinking. He was a first major non “weird old guy with a long beard” guru and the teachers and students he attracted gained popularity all over the world, a renowned human being with a vast reputation for knowledge and understanding.
It was through his, albeit dated 1950 colonial style British Indian English, that I came to know the system of yoga in a sensible, logical and systemised manner. There was no hint of the occult, no difficult yoga routines, impossible ideals, far fetchedness or any hint that yoga is anything other than a means to universal self-realisation through the study of the methodical and objective – and therefore scientific – investigation into the nature of self and Prana.
And that is, at the end of the day, what yoga is: union with the energy that is the universal life force that we are born from, eat from, breathe and live by.
Mindfulness, yoga and meditation
The objective approach known as Mindfulness (which is interestingly not mentioned in the film) and its benefits are well researched. Combine its science with the metaphysics of self-realisation or “spiritual” meditation and you have yoga and ” consciousness”.
Call it energy, the Cosmic Divine, or God by any name, it is when we become aware of the pulse of life in our blood and bones that we get to know life.
Music & Yoga, Cape Town.