There’s been quite a bit of buzz on yoga blogs about the recent book The Science of Yoga by William Broad that recently came out:
One of my new blog friends (a co-resident as well as yogi!), Steve Kraunz, has been thinking about designing a research study on yoga in the medical setting. He saw the book and sent me the following in an email with his thoughts — it deserves sharing:
I was thinking about this study and getting excited about and was in the book store and saw this book, The Science of Yoga. I picked it up and went to coffee shop and started reading. I got through the first chapter and felt sick. This dude, although much more of a seasoned yoga practitioner than me, wanted to pick yoga apart, dissect it and do an alien autopsy on it all in white coat and spectacles.
I closed the book and promptly returned it and was lucky to get my money back. It turns out I just don’t want to know what science thinks of yoga. If science found in a randomized controlled study that there was no such thing as love, would you still not seek it? If science found that prayer was useless, would you criticize your patients for holding vigils?
There are some things in this world that are etheral and mysterious and beautiful just because they are and we don’t always need to quantify and count–perhaps this is against our natures as doctors and scientists — but perhaps there is some healing that is just art. Anyway, I think I’ll put the study on hold but keep breathing with my patients!
All this reminded me of a Walt Whitman poem and that’s why I started think of it in this light:
When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
By Walt Whitman
When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much
applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
Wow I love that poem. Thanks, Steve!