Brain stimulation seems to offer a shortcut to unlocking the benefits of yoga and mindfulness sessions, but turbocharging meditation could have a dark side
FIRST came yoga, then hot yoga, beer yoga, even goat yoga. Now we have e-yoga, the combination of brain stimulation with meditation, mindfulness and downward dog.
Paradoxical though it may seem to add modern technology to a spiritual practice, there are hints that passing a small electrical current through your brain enhances the hard-won effects of yoga and meditation, leading to greater feelings of well-being, more quickly.
The first results of trials of the technology will be available next month, but that isn’t quick enough for some. Behind closed doors, the world’s first e-meditation classes have already started. The US defence agency is even investigating the concept as a way to enhance soldiers’ abilities. But don’t unroll your mat just yet: fast-tracking your zen could have a dark side.
The yoga and meditation industry is booming, with more than 30 million people practising in the US alone and the global market worth £74 billion. It is no wonder: while practitioners have spoken about the transformative potential of meditation for centuries, science has only recently caught up.
Mindfulness meditation – paying more attention to the present moment, to your thoughts, feelings and the world around you – can protect against depression, accelerate learning and alleviate pain and anxiety. It may even slow the ageing process. Yoga has also been found to offer numerous health benefits, such as helping with depression, anxiety and emotional eating. Both can switch off genes implicated in inflammation, which is linked to a number of diseases.
Even so, it takes time and dedication to see results from yoga and …