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Chinese Mind-Body Training Reduces Stress

Researchers have unravelled how an emerging mind-body technique, adapted from traditional Chinese medicine and practised by thousands inĀ  China, cuts down stress levels in just five days.
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The integrative body-mind training (IBMT) is now being taught to undergraduates involved in research on the method at the University of Oregon (UO).

In October 2007, researchers led by visiting UO professor Yi-Yuan Tang and UO psychologist Michael Posner documented that doing IBMT prior to a mental math test led to low levels of the stress hormone cortisol among Chinese students.

The experimental group also showed lower levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue than students in a relaxation control group.

“The previous paper indicated that IBMT subjects showed a reduced response to stress.” Tang said. “Why did it work so fast?”

The new findings point to how IBMT alters blood flow and electrical activity in the brain, breathing quality and even skin conductance, allowing for “a state of ah, much like in the morning opening your eyes, looking outside the grass and sunshine, you feel relaxed, calm and refresh without any stress, this is the meditation state,” he said.

Data were drawn from several technologies in two experiments involving 86 undergraduate students at Dalian University of Technology, where Tang is a professor, said an UO release.

The data were analysed and prepared for publication at the UO with help from Posner and psychology professor Mary K. Rothbart, who are not co-authors of the paper.

The study was published online in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences.
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Sources: The Times Of India

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Yoga Soothes Menopause Symptoms

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Yoga can reduce hot flashes and night sweats among women going through menopause, and also appears to sharpen their mental function, new research suggests.

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To investigate whether yoga would help women with physical and cognitive symptoms of menopause, scientists randomly assigned 120 menopausal women, 40 to 55 years old, to yoga practice or simple stretching and strengthening exercises five days a week for eight weeks.

The postures, breathing and meditation included in the yoga intervention were “aimed at one common effect, i.e. ‘to develop mastery over modifications of the mind’… through ‘slowing down the rate of flow of thoughts in the mind’,” the researchers explained.

Women in the yoga group also listened to lectures on using yoga to manage stress and other yoga-related topics, while those in the control group heard lectures on diet, exercise, the physiology of menopause, and stress.

After eight weeks, women in the yoga group showed a significant reduction in hot flashes, night sweats, and sleep disturbances, while the women in the control group did not, Dr R Chattha, of the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana in Bangalore found.

Both groups showed improvements in a test of attention and concentration, although improvement in the yoga group was significantly greater. In a test of memory and intelligence with 10 components, the yoga group improved on eight, while the control group improved on six.

“The present study shows the superiority of yoga over physical activity in improving the cognitive functions that could be attributed to emphasis on correctness in breathing, synchronizing breathing with body movements, relaxation and mindful rest,” the researchers suggest.

Sources: The Times Of India

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