Listen to a Radio National interview conducted on 29th March 2017 with scientist and Iyengar yoga practitioner Roger Cole, who attempts to explain some of the science behind the practice of Iyengar yoga.
INTERVIEWER: Have you had a go at yoga? Heaps of people have, it’s become a very popular way of exercising and de-stressing. Whatever the ancient origins of it are, it arrived in the West India in the 20th century one of the people who popularised it was BKS Iyengar.
Now yoga is understood as a physical and mental and spiritual practice that supposed to make you healthier and happier. But how much do we know about the science behind it?
Roger Cole is an American Iyengar yoga teacher and he’s also a scientist who is interested in relaxation and in sleep. He’s in Australia running workshops at the moment, Roger welcome to Life Matters….
ROGER: Hello Amanda. Thank you for having me.
INTERVIEWER: Now how do you marry your science background with yoga, Roger?
ROGER: Well, I do practice Iyengar yoga and BKS Iyengar said that ‘alignment is equanimity’. Now one of the goals of yoga is a state of mental and physical balance, and so when you practice the postures with good alignment creates a state of mind, and that’s how I use it in my practice.
INTERVIEWER: Where does the science come in as far as you’re concerned, your background with science?
ROGER: Alignment is something that you can see, that you can touch, and that’s what we scientists like. You can measure it, you can feel what’s going on, and so you can share the information scientifically with other people and they can reproduce what you did, so one thing about Iyengar yoga, he said ‘put your foot here, put your knee there’ and it looks like it’s all external work, but if you look at the anatomy of it, first of all it starts to work on the joints, it starts to work on the muscles in certain ways, and then that creates an effect on the nervous system. And so I studied how the biomechanics of a posture translates not only on the health of the joints, the health of the muscles, but how it translates into the nerve reflexes which ultimately create a balanced and peaceful mind….