Date of Award

2018

First Advisor

Sarah Snyder

Second Advisor

Anne O'Dwyer

Abstract

This thesis examines the neurological effects--on beta and alpha brainwaves--of pranayama yoga. I introduce the topic with a brief review of the history of yoga and its transformation from the East into the West, and touch upon three popular neurological disorders (generalized anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder (type I)) and their current treatments. Then I go on to describe the findings of the research associated with this thesis: in which both novice and experienced yoga practitioners engaged in a series of yoga sessions over several weeks and had their brain waves measured during the first and last sessions--and their brain waves were compared to novices who did not experience the yoga sessions. Findings revealed an increase in right alpha waves for the experienced group and decreases were found for left alpha waves in both novice and experienced groups. Potential applications to these findings are within addressing current treatments for those with the previously mentioned psychological disorders, as well as directions for future new--yoga- and meditation informed-- ways to treat psychological illnesses.

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