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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptical Inquirer > March/April 2019 > The Science of Why Yoga Quiets the Mind

The Science of Why Yoga Quiets the Mind

Fitness Industry Hype Obscures Yoga’s True Benefits


Matthew C. Nisbet is professor of communication at Northeastern University and editor-in-chief of the journal Environmental Communication. He also writes at and can be found on Twitter @MCNisbet

I had been practicing yoga for a decade, but it took an unexplained injury to push me toward turning yoga into a daily routine. I had spent a brutally cold winter battling unexplained nerve pain in my legs, which doctors after a series of diagnostic tests eventually characterized as related to “muscle tension.”

For years as a professor and writer, my days were spent at a desk chair, slouched over a computer. I always prided myself on staying in shape, taking breaks to run and lift weights. But now it seemed the years of sitting at a computer, pressed to meet the next deadline, had taken their toll. As I worked with a physical ther- apist, I began to notice that the nerve pain I felt in my lower legs appeared to be connected to chronic tightness in my hamstrings and hips, and this tightness would intensify after sitting at a desk and/or under conditions of stress.

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