Yoga & Science

Dr Bethany Kok: Yoga Unites the World

Dr. Bethany Kok believes that lovingkindness meditation possess beneficial health effects, but she makes sure to point out that a person’s physiological state when they start such meditation can affect how much a person gets those benefits. She has found an upward spiral of growth in health, an upward spiral based on human ability to connect socially to other people through yoga. This connectedness provides a sense of safety and groundedness, and allows people to tune in to the people around them.

Dr. Kok holds a Ph.D. in Social Psychology with a concentration in Quantitative Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Degree in Psychology, Statistics, and Computer Science from St. Olaf College. Her peer-reviewed publications on the science of meditation appear in leading scientific journals including Psychological Science, Science Advances, and JAMA Psychiatry, and her award-winning thesis work has been covered by The Economist and Scientific American. She studied comparative meditation as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences before leaving academia for the private sector in 2017.

Dr. Kok believes that scientists, in order to study how something works, have to implement change. By using yoga as a means of studying systems of interpersonal connection, she hopes to make the world a better place. She fears that yoga is too often perceived as a unitary practice, when in reality it comes in many different forms. Researchers must examine the specificity of the yoga type, and the specificity of the yoga function, in order to move forward in understanding the ways in which yoga benefits the world.

03:28 | 2019

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