The science behind yoga is quite correlated to meditation to a certain extend. Thousands of years back the first mystics wanders several places just to attain solace from their daily struggles and distractions. There in isolation they studied their own inner experience. They noticed a myriad of thoughts and emotions as they felt there inner core, although it somehow caused anxiety and stress. Eventually with vigilant observation the mystics found that when they stopped feeding their thoughts they started to get quieter and quieter. They were quite literally changing their state of mind from the inside out.
The Mystics in India called this practice Vipassana which means clear seeing. Today in present scenario we call it as Meditation. Moving into early 2000s , scientists studying the brain and the effect of brain exercises started to make some surprising discoveries . Brain science was still in its infancy and in fact up until late into the 20th century it was still thought that the brain was solid like concrete, unable to change in its structure. But then they discovered a phenomenon called brain plasticity. It seemed the brain could actually change. It could be shaped and rewired by exercise and guess what they found had the power to cause structural changes with Meditation.
Several studies found a whole host of structural changes in the brains of people who meditated. The default mode network which could stimulate wandering and aimless thought grooves was quiet down. The amygdale which processes fear and anxiety reduced in size and activity. Gray matter in the sensory regions of the brain increased which turn enhanced sense perception. These were startling discoveries and it became clear that there was something to this ancient practice after all, but it’s not just neuroscience. The field of psychology also owes some recent developments to this Eastern philosophy. The Mystics of old times claimed the simple fact with regular insight.
You’ll see that your thoughts are not real and the recent success of cognitive talk therapy uses this exact same strategy. The subject learns to see the falseness of their own repetitive thinking. They’re simply an interpretation of what is going on not the actuality of what’s going on. So what’s the difference you might ask well say someone next to you makes a sarcastic remark. This may trigger you to start thinking about a number of possible explanations and they could all be completely false. For example she did that on purpose, everyone does this to me, they’re all planning to keep me down etc. See how these thoughts lead to other thoughts which multiply with each other. The philosophy of Vipassana is to see that these thoughts are nothing more than stories in your head and as you get better they stop multiplying so quickly but don’t be disheartened it takes practice by the way.
You don’t necessarily have to look like a yogi or sit like a pretzel to meditate so whether it’s breathing meditation, watching meditation dancing or fishing meditation whatever clears your mind is a great place to start. All of these techniques contribute to a healthier mind there is something that brain science is starting to substantiate and it’s what ancient mystics said all those years ago.