Healing Power of Yoga
The Future is Yoga
Khalsa may have been ahead of his time, but it seems the world around him is finally starting to catch up. "I've noticed a shift even in the 10 years I've been at Stanford," says McGonigal. "Today, a lot of the younger researchers are interested in yoga and meditation, and they're doing their dissertations on it. That just wasn't the case when I started. "
This newfound interest in yoga from the science world will, Khalsa says, surely boost yoga's credibility as a therapy. "A lot of older, veteran scientists will resist the idea of yoga as a legitimate therapy until the day they die. It's just the nature of bias and belief." (For illustration, he offers the "cigarettes don't cause cancer" die-hards.) "Often it's the next generation that can finally enact a shift."
As more young researchers become interested in yoga, more proposals will be written and accepted; more studies will then appear in peer-reviewed journals. "Once you get hundreds replicating the same outcome in different populations, in different countries, using different styles, then confidence begins to gain. It takes a critical mass of research evidence to ultimately shift the bulk of scientific opinion toward acceptance."
As someone who has waited decades just to receive rejection letters from the NIH, Khalsa is prepared to persevere and bring yoga its due recognition. "My aim is to provide evidence that yoga has a place in regular, everyday life as well as in therapy. And I'll do that by compiling the evidence showing that it works," he says. As author and Kripalu Yoga teacher Stephen Cope explains it, when it comes to the potential of this practice in America, "Sat Bir is holding the 3,000-foot view." It just may take a while for the world to catch up with him.
Formerly the health editor of Yoga Journal and, most recently, executive editor of Body+Soul, Jennifer Barrett now writes from her home in West Hartford, Connecticut.