Neuroscience has slowly started to believe in body and mind connection, which was formulated and practiced in India in the form of Yoga over thousands of years. Biofeedback is a modern medical science term coined to encapsulate the fact that the brain changes its function based on what the body is doing. And, this makes it is possible to influence (or control) various physiological and psychological functions that normally are involuntary.
So far, Yogic wisdom of thousands of years (of body and mind connection) has mostly been ignored by western medicine. The ancient sages in India, through their own experiences with body and mind, designed the body positions and alignments in the form of Yogasanas. Yogasanas indirectly influence mind and intelligence in a positive way and enhance changes in the brain and Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) through conscious biofeedback. For example, Virabhadrasana giving an extensive effect on the mind is not magic but biofeedback. And, Yogasanas that incorporate backbends and the opening of the chest do a particularly good job at increasing positive emotions – and have been suggested for depression.
The brain and body connection is more pronounced when it comes to emotions. Let’s understand this in layman’s words. When we feel scared or get excited, our heart beats faster. When someone feels frustrated, he clenches the jaw. The brain changes its activity based on what the body is doing. Similarly, actions as simple as getting a smile on your face, changing your posture, relaxing your face, or slowing your breath have dramatic effects on your brain activity. This subsequently alters your stress, mood, and thoughts – a body to brain feedback. Hence the feedback is bi-directional – body-to-mind and mind-to-body.
We will cover biofeedback in various Yogasanas in our future posts.