Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Relaxation Response

Right now I’m reading The Relaxation Response. Originally published by Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson in 1975, the book's about the physiology of relaxation— related to practices of meditation and yoga. It’s stunning to me that this research and many of the ideas he proposed— now over thirty years ago— are just starting to gain broader medical and popular interest and confirmation. I feel like I'm taking part in Benson's legacy: I’m teaching for two mind/body research studies with the University of California. One is a study of restorative yoga and stretching for the metabolic syndrome, at UCSF and UCSD. The other is a new study of mindful breathing and hypertension, with UCSF’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. These studies, and others like them, continue the investigation of embodied awareness that Dr. Benson started making a formal case for in ’75. A great bit of contemporary medical history and physiological grounding for restorative yoga and meditation instructors and students.

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