The science of yoga and mindfulness
Published in Spectrum, Winter 2014 edition, p. 36-39.
by Karin van Maanen
After practising and teaching yoga and meditation for some years, including completing Maarten Vermaasse’s meditation modules with the BWY, my interest in mindfulness was sparked and I embarked on the University of Aberdeen’s Studies in Mindfulness course in 2011. The course is geared towards the research and practice of integrating mindfulness into one’s professional context. In my case: yoga teaching. As part of the research I had the opportunity to investigate and reflect on the relationship between yoga and mindfulness in-depth. I am grateful for being able to share some of the resulting findings. May they be helpful to Spectrum readers.
I had always considered mindfulness and meditation to be an integral part of yoga. However as De Michelis (2005) points out, in Hindu and Indian yoga circles the word yoga is almost synonymous with the practice of meditation, but over time, in English language usage the word yoga has become synonymous with the practice of postures and meditation is often regarded as a separate aspect. Both De Michelis (ibid) and Singleton (2010) acknowledge that modern yoga has transformed quite radically in response to what Singleton describes as “the differing world views, logical predispositions, and aspirations of modern audiences” (ibid, location 409).