Chapter 14

Yoga and Meditation: Antidotes to Civilization

Sonia Suchday, Yvette Fruchter, Lauren Hagemann and Anthony F. Santoro

Abstract

The rapid spread and chronic nature of diseases of civilization have created a scenario where local and traditional medicine is ill-equipped to deal with health and wellness. Low cost public health prevention and intervention efforts are key elements in stemming the tide of diseases arising from fast-paced globalization. Diseases travel across borders, so do modalities of health. The mingling of Eastern and Western methods of health and wellness has given rise to the practice of various mind-body techniques. Yoga and meditation, categorized as mind-body therapies, are examples of this cross-fertilization of treatments between the East and the West. Both yoga and meditation have been described as useful and effective health and stress management tools that can alleviate the negative physical effects of stress by improving neuroendocrine status, metabolic function, inflammation, HPA regulation and parasympathetic nervous system tone. Yoga and meditation benefit health via their effect on obesity and diseases such as coronary heart disease and diabetes mellitus. The inexpensive nature of yoga and meditation practice makes them attractive public health tools. With the increasing impact of globalization, the arsenal of public health tools should include traditional and modern medical approaches from both Eastern and Western traditions. This sharing of regional and culture-bound health practices offersthe opportunity to implement potentially effective public health programs within unexplored geographic locations and settings. Yoga and meditation are ancient wellness techniques that can be used in combination with traditional medicine to reduce the global escalation of obesity and related chronic illnesses.

Total Pages: 254-280 (27)

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